Sunday, April 25, 2010

Procreation as contraception

“We’re not going to have any kids. It’s final, that’s the decision,” our friend Colleen said as we strolled around our neighborhood. She braced herself for the ensuing argument. People with kids are always trying to pressure their childless friends into having babies, most likely because certain emotional states seem to love company.

“Are you going to get a boat instead?” I asked.

As I understand it, the payoff for not having kids, besides the millions of extra hours of sleep, is that you get to have a boat. Also, you get to live your entire adult life without having the term “urine-soaked” apply to you.

Though she might have been expecting one, Colleen wasn’t going to get an argument from us. Back when Kara was pregnant, we used to work on our friends, saying, “Aw, come on, have one!” like we were offering them a Chiclet. But now that we’ve lived through the first ten months of parenthood, we’d never dream of pressuring anyone else into it, even those, like Colleen and Chris, who would be primo parents. The decision to upend your life and permanently pause your video games needs to come from you and your partner alone, not from those who might be looking to score an occasional playdate out of the transaction.

Of course, this doesn’t stop random passersby from asking me and Kara when we’re going to have another baby, which seems a lot like walking up to someone as they crawl out of the smoking wreckage of their overturned vehicle and asking, “When are you gonna do that again?”

“Not anytime soon, I hope,” you’d reply, in either situation.

We’ll get around to expanding our family eventually, and I don’t mean to imply that parenthood has been a bad experience. Sometimes, it’s been terrible. Most of the time, terribly rewarding.

For us, having a baby is like this: There’s a restaurant on the Jersey Shore that gives you a free T-shirt if you can eat an entire XXL pie by yourself. Several years ago, Kara agreed to go there with me and two of our guy friends on the condition that she could order just a salad. We all agreed, and then pressured her into getting a pizza anyway.

“We’ll help you out down the home stretch. We promise,” we lied.

With our three plates clean, and half a pie remaining on Kara’s plate, the three guys just stared at the table, trying not to make eye contact. We just couldn’t eat any more of that pizza.

That’s how Kara and I both feel about having another baby right now. We just can’t eat any more of that pizza, not yet.

“I just wanted a stupid salad!” Kara says every time I wear my awesome T-shirt.

Several of our friends are standing at the edge of the gene pool and deciding that it’s doing just fine without their contributions. Colleen and Chris were visiting us with another couple last weekend, who also floated the possibility that they might not have kids.

“Oh, can we go to a place that has a bar in the pool?” one of them said, as they planned the trip the four of them are taking to Cancun this summer. Poor, poor childless people.

“It’s gotta be a place that doesn’t allow kids. I don’t need all the ruckus while I’m trying to relax,” came the reply, as our son Evan banged spoons together in the next room.

Then Kara and I entered the room, and everyone fell silent.

“Sorry, we started talking about it when you weren’t here,” they said, looking like they’d been caught eating sundaes by their lactose intolerant friends.

Among his many powers, Evan has rendered our passports completely useless. Unless one of us makes a break for it.

You can sail away with Mike Todd at mikectodd@gmail.com.

3 comments:

  1. Parenthood is the toughest job you'll ever love.

    Those that are childless, are in 2 categories...the ones that long for children, but are unable to have them and those that are in the selfish, "it's all about me" category, and remain childless by choice.

    Neither group will experience the joy of the first "I love you mommy/daddy", the heartbreak of sending them off to their first day of school, and all the in-betweens.

    If I could do it again, I would....well, except for the potty training part, but to re-experience that, we're just getting a puppy.

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  2. Yeah, boy, it is tough, and we do love it. Our friends have good reasons -- medical and otherwise -- for not having kids, but think of all the money they'll save on paper towels alone.

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