August 24, 2009

Gifted Taco

Before reading this understand that I truly DO love kids. My nieces, my nephew, and my goddaughter Julia.

I often had (note: had) these periodic inner thoughts of whether or not to have children. They usually came on suddenly, perhaps after holding a friend's new baby, and left just as fast as they came on. I thought of it more often about 15 years ago, thinking that if I was ever going to do it, I better get busy pronto. Now, I've just run out of time, or reasonable time, to be a responsible' able-bodied parent. Yes, I could obviously still have a child but do I want to start that journey at my age? When I was giving it some serious consideration I often had the good and evil "me's" sitting on my shoulders, each yelling in my ears the pros and cons. I looked long and hard at most of my friends with children and they didn't seem all that happy. Actually they seemed exhausted, stressed, and even resentful of the little tykes. They spoke of "the good old days" prior to having them. They ALL complained of never having sex anymore... or, if they did have sex, it was hurried. More of a release than a pleasurable interlude. The women didn't seem to care, the men complained incessantly. Aside from the lack of sex, they never seemed to have any time for themselves. Everything they did was coordinated around their child's school, playdates, various sports, ballet, instrument lessons, camp, etc., etc. It makes one wonder if these parents hit a point in their lives when they themselves were bored. Had they done everything they wanted to do in life and were ready to give virtually ALL of their time to a child? I find it funny that EVERY single friend who has children has said to me, "I never knew it would be so time consuming." What? Are you stupid? Did you not read or talk to anyone prior to this endeavor? Were you on that island with Tom Hanks (Castaway) for the past 30 years? Of course it takes up time--every friggin moment of your life. You didn't think this would happen?

When I was a kid all I heard was "go outside and play." There were no "activities." We relied on friends and ourselves to create whatever fun we had. A bike, a skateboard, a few plastic army men, and a heap of dirt. That was about it. Nowadays, kids are bombarded with "activities." Parents feel obligated to do things to keep their child busy for fear they may miss something. Or, they're not doing their duty being a good parent. We had a black and white TV with 4 channels: ABC, CBS, NBC, and WTTG 5. You could sometimes pick up channel 20, which was usually fuzzy, but if you grabbed one pole of the rabbit ears and stood on your head while holding 3 pounds of aluminum foil in your other hand, it might come in halfway clear. TV sucked. Kids today have 200+ channels, play stations, electronic games, and computers. I truly think they're over stimulated. Where's the imagination? Quiet time? Time with friends outside without anything to play with except a ball or some woods to run through? It's no wonder kids are all fucked up today. Half are on Ritalin, antidepressants, or in therapy by the time they're in high school. That's seriously fucked up. Not to mention their diets. Kids eat more sugar and processed crap than ever before and parents let them; it's not worth the argument. As a kid we sat down to dinner every night at 6:00pm. We said a prayer and quietly ate whatever was on our plates. We were taught good table manners and how to hold utensils. Have you ever watched people eat today? Go to any restaurant and look around. Nobody knows how to hold a fork, much less cut something and switch back to the fork in the right hand... it's amazing. I want to walk up to people and say, "Who the hell taught you how to eat?" I digress... I probably would have considered having one or two kids if they didn't require the IMMENSE amount of attention they do. I'm too self absorbed and selfish to sacrfice so much of "me time" for anyone. And, is the payoff truly worth 22+ years of sacrifice? Not to mention the enormous expense of babysitters, nannies, schooling, food, clothing, and overall raising someone. Is the payoff truly that great? Really? 'Cause I'm not seeing it. Are the parents of an average 13, 14, 15, or 16 year old kid oozing with ecstatic happiness? Is the whole motivation to having kids so you'll have someone to take care of you when you're old? Maybe subconsciously that's it. Kids are basically a long term insurance policy. They're supposed to provide you with company and elder care later in life. By God, that's it! I honestly answered the question of the reason for having children.

If I ever did have a child I'd like to have a them from 6 months to 2 years (newborns do nothing except cry, eat, and poop). Then I'd send them away and get them back from 4-11, then away again until they were 24. When a kids hormones kick in (13ish) they're argumentative, combative, and from I've witnessed, they basically become demonic assholes. Are their exceptions? Of course... I know of 3. One is obviously gay, one is religious, and one is half retarded. The others are like me and my friends were--complete assholes. Show me a kid who loves and adores his parents as a teen and I'll show you a full-blown nerd. One who is considered uncool and probably a social outcast with few friends. Part of being a normal kid is being rebellious and standing on your own. With your own opinions, challenging authority and being a bit reckless and adventuresome without killing yourself in the process. Do I want to deal with that? No... and especially as an older parent. I'm sure much of parenting is wonderful. I know many parents have told me how wonderful it is to sit and watch their child do the simplest of things. Amazed that this beautiful child is a product of their own seed. Now, flash forward being the parent of a 15-year old daughter who just got caught sneaking out of the house and tell me how special parenting is.

Many (most) parents I know think their child is gifted. Newsflash, I assure you, they're not. If your kid isn't playing Bach beautifully at 4 years of age on a piano or violin, then she's not gifted. If he's not speaking fluent Russian and reading at college level at age 6 or coming up with some new mathematical theory than I assure you, he's NOT gifted. Smart? Perhaps. Gifted? No. I've never met any parents with a gifted child, ever. So, if you're watching that 4-year old of yours eat a taco and are amazed that they can hold it without dripping it all over their shirt. Sorry, they're not gifted.

Then again... maybe I'm trying to justify not having kids. But I don't think so. Parenting is not for everyone. Life can be pretty damn exciting without kids, believe me. Maybe even more than watching that gifted child of yours successfully eat a taco.

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