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October 18, 2005

kids lite

Disclaimer: before I discuss this latest parenting debacle, I need to clarify something oft misunderstood. I do not hate children. Nor parents. I do not care if people procreate any more than I care if they buy a sedan. It's not my business, not my place, not my interest. Any frustration I've expressed in this space is simply the result of my losing a significant percentage of friends to parenthood. Yes, "lose." I'm delighted that my friends are happy, but I miss them, and the little shadow-of-what-it-used-to-be audiences I'm granted, while appreciated, are salt in the amputation stump. I do not, you see, have a demanding infant with which to fill my newfound free time. I'm still right here, right where I was with you, without you. It sucks, frankly. It's merely unpleasant at an individual level, but collectively, it's been socially decimating. Am I being selfish? Probably. But I can't believe it's any healthier to not miss my friends. Anyway. I'll deal. The larger point is that it's not really about kids at all. Got it?

• • •

Two friends, let's call them Kathy and Mike Mulligan, are in the family way. Eighth verse, same as the first—man, am I ever numb to this by now. A couple months ago, they were me. Together we mourned lost friends, and we cynically toasted our own eternal childlessness. Somewhere in the discussions, birth control came up, and she said they used none. "Are you insane?" I asked. "Pretty please, allow me to drive you to the freakin' drug store." No, she replied, it'll be fine. She is unable to have kids. Her only evidence: a lifetime of being careless with birth control. Her logic made me nervous then, and now voila. Tardo Jr. is en route.

Wishful thinking, sadly, is how they make all major decisions. Concurrent with their careful conclusion that no birth control was necessary: a $150,000 home remodel. They're turning their house into a bed and breakfast. When they entered six digit territory, I asked what the zoning restrictions were.

"Hmm?" came the reply. Turns out they hadn't checked.

"I'm sure it'll be fine," they said. Turns out it's not fine.

A week after the remodeling conversation, when news of the pregnancy broke, I wanted to bitchslap them. Not for having a baby, but for having a baby for the most moronic reason imaginable. Kathy asked me to look up abortion law on the web. She was unsure if she wanted an abortion, but Mike was sure. Damned sure. He even joked about throwing Kathy's pregnant body over the cliff. Ha, ha.

Welcome, Tardo Jr. You will be loved.

So now we're having a baby, but we're having it Mulligan style. "How are you going to run a shop with a newborn around?" I asked.

"Oh, it'll be fine. No problem. We'll just set up a playpen in the boutique."

"It's not that easy. Newborns turn your world upside down. You won't be working."

"It'll be fine," she repeats crossly, getting peeved at me for daring to question the wisdom of The Plan. She's offended? I'm offended. Do I dare mention their previously established genius for foresight? Nah. I let it go.

No, I do not hate children. But I sure do detest when people create children lightly. If any decision calls for some care, some gravity, I'd think it the decision to create a human being.

Alas. It'll be fine.

posted by john at 7:42 PM  â€¢  permalink