Friday, January 23, 2009

Hypothetical Parenting

The following is just a random bunch of stuff with the merest of similarities: parenting.

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As a teen, I spent a great deal of my free time babysitting, and many parents (and friends of our family) commented with sometimes annoying regularity what a great dad I would be some day.

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When I first started coming out to my friends in my late teens and early 20's, I was on the short end of comment like, "Oh, what a waste..." and "Gee, won't you miss having kids?" and so on...

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Over the last 10 years or so, during any of my more "substantive" relationships, people have been very forward in asking if we plan to adopt (or opt for any of the less passive modes of obtaining a child - no, not kidnapping...). The subject even came up on my first date with The Beau (it'll be 4 years this May, but who's counting?). We are both firm in our conviction: we love and adore the kids in our lives - nephews, neices, children of friends and neighbors - and enjoy their company...in relatively short doses. We know our limits.

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We have developed a shorthand to signal when one of us (usually the Beau) is reaching a point where they can take little more. It started one day in the presence of a very tired child, acting like a very tired child who was not have the best day with a parent who was similarly not having the best day. It was not pretty, for anyone. The kind of day where we'd all like to request a do-over.

The Beau turned to me and said, "Tell that story again about how you don't want to have children..."

It has since been reduced to just, "Tell me that story..."

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Last Saturday, on the flight to Orlando for a company meeting, I met quite a number of parents and kids - some on their way to the Mouse, and others on the first leg of a trip to Washington, DC for the Inauguration. Quite a combination of similar, yet still disparate types of energy.

Most of the kids were wonderful during the flight - it could have been much worse. I overheard one dad talking to a mom he was sitting across the aisle from, extolling the rewards and virtues of being a parent. "There's nothing better in the whole world." He kept saying this, over and over.

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For him. Nothing better for him. I'd be willing to bet that some of the parents that might happen to read what I've posted so far have been mildly offended or put off at least by my tone and phraseology.

I am OK with that. Please understand that I love kids, I loved teaching and think it's great that the world is making more Gays without me ever having to lift a finger.

But.

There are other things in the world. Other things that are better for Other people in the world. People who don't have any interest or drive or desire to be parents.

Sometimes, we come up on an odd, reverse side of that. Certain groups tell us that we can't be parents because it's wrong/immoral/illegal/inappropriate/fill in the blank. Other people tell us that we just don't know what we are missing, not being parents, and that we'll never really be fulfilled as humans without that knowledge and experience.

Makes me bristle.

What happened to Live and Let Live? I love your kids. I think your commitment to raising your kids is stunning and wonderful and breathtaking and I know it's something I could not and would not do in my lifetime. Why can't that be OK too?

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Last weekend, a waitress who lived and worked in the French Quarter was murdered outside her apartment as she was coming home from work. There were a few witnesses who were able to supply the police with descriptions and assist in creating sketches that were distributed throughout the city.

By noon yesterday, all three of the suspects involved in this robbery-gone-bad were in custody after turning themselves in to the authorities.

Two 15 year olds and one 14 year old. Who prompted them to turn themselves in?

Their mothers.

These mothers saw the sketches, recognized them immediately and urged their kids, their children to surrender to the police, peacefully. And they did.

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Could you do that? Could you go to your child and ask them, plead with them to hand their lives over to the police, knowing that what comes next is the unknowable?

It's only hypothetical for me, who will never have kids of my own - so it's easy for me to say, "Hell, yes."

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What about you, moms and dads? What about you? Could you do that?

4 comment(s):

Jen of A2eatwrite

This post tore me up.

My heart goes out to those moms, but they absolutely did the right thing. Could I do that, too? I'd hope so.

I also believe strongly in live and let live. Parenting is not, nor should it be, for everyone.

There are so many ways in which we all, as human beings, contribute to the fabric of society.

soccer mom in denial

Wow. So much here.

I have a cousin who chose not have children and there is a certain relative (who will remain nameless but you know well) who thinks her life is worthless because of that choice. I just want to scream at that relative for her limited, parent-focused view of the world.

And yes. Without at moment's thought I would either get my kid(s) to go to the police if they committed a crime or turn them in myself. I raised people to be good and not harm.

And Lord, please tell me I'm not that mother who led to your and the Beau's short-hand query....

Ambassador

Jen -

It's odd when certain posts just tumble out of you, unassisted. This was one of those. I didn't really know where it was going. It rather wrote itself. Thanks for the comments.

SMID - You know some of my friends who also have chosen not to have children; they too get the kind of treatment you referred to. I just don't get it - heaven forbid one should be a contributing member of society, doing well by doing good...but fail for never having been a parents? That's nuts.

And, no...it wasn't you and your family. This started soon after the Beau and I met, here in the Quarter while you were hundreds of miles away. Cute and neurotic of you to worry, tho'!

Hugs to both of you! K

painted maypole

first of all, i totally respect anyone who knows that having kids is not for them. I wish more people would CHOOSE not to have kids. there are some pretty darn crappy parents out there (not to say that YOU would be... but I think it's great when you can say "love kids, but don't want to raise them")

this line: "think it's great that the world is making more Gays without me ever having to lift a finger" - cracked me up.

and yes, I believe I would urge my child to turn herself in. And if she didn't, I would turn her in.

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