I wear black a lot. Like sort of everyday. I guess I like black. I like the simplicity of it and consequently the way it can mean whatever you want it to mean. On the 4th of July I woke up an entire household trying to discreetly come inside to use the bathroom at a grossly early hour because a dog freaked out and went batshit nuts. Why? Because, according to his [grumpy] human: “You are wearing black. He does not like black.” Really? That dog must not get out much. And truly, I love the idea that black is slimming.
The other morning T and I were sitting around in our various shades of black having our morning coffee talk. The convsersation moved toward children as we were oohing and ahing over the truly lovely family of one of our girlfriends. We considered the nature of children, more specifically the nature of having children. Not in the physiological way, I believe we are clear on that, but more in the ideological way. We wondered out loud what kind of parents we would be and we considered the waxing and waning pressures of procreation, the curiosity factor, and the multivariate input from parental people and non-parentals. It is interesting. Confounding. Bizarre.
Do we want kids?
Do we need kids?
Do you plan for it?
Let it happen?
Are you missing out if you do/don’t? [Hello, FOMO.]
Would we be good parents?
Are we wasting good DNA?
Saving the world by not spreading our DNA?
It is a very common topic among women my age. But the more I think about it the more I realize that my mom [I think it was my mom…] was probably spot on when she said that one of the biggest bummers about the modern era of women’s liberation and family planning was that somehow everyone got all consumed with the ‘planning’ and forgot about the ‘family’. [I am sure I don’t need to mention Idiocracy again here – not that I am advocating for the Clevon method.] In a lot of ways my speculation on the subject is silly being that I’ve not had kids. But I have seen it done a lot of ways: have ’em early, have ’em late, have ’em accidentally, have ’em (mutually) intentionally, have ’em (underhandedly) intentionally, adopt, abort, miscarry, smiles, tears, burdens, benefits. It runs the gamut of human experience.
Will I have kids? Honestly, in a lot of ways, I have kids. Like hundreds and hundreds of them. I think if I did the math I can say I have worked with more than a thousand of them on a pretty regular basis, and have had a range of experiences that goes from the best to the worst. True, it is not the same as being a full-time parent, because I can walk away. But I usually do not. And there is definitely a time span during which, if I am your child’s teacher, I spend a lot more time with them than you do. That is a simple fact of human adolescence.
I do not think that teaching is the same as parenting, nor does it necessarily qualify me to parent, in a surrogate role or otherwise. [Note to parents: That goes the other way too, siring does not necessarily qualify one to teach – just sayin’.] However, the satisfaction I derive from my work seems to have quelled my innate need for producing kids. And if that is actually the case it is probably best for me to keep on keeping on in the same way. A friend of mine recently said, “I’m not having kids, I don’t want to be chasing toddlers in my fifties and dealing with preteens in my sixties.” I had to agree that those did not sound like great options. In the same vein another person I know said if he had it to do again he would have kids as early as possible, like at 17 or 18. I shuddered thinking of myself at that age, and then adding a child in the mix. But we are biologically programmed for that so maybe there is some validity there. Another friend who says she has never wanted kids said, “People should not have kids unless they are totally sure they want kids.” I thought for a moment and then had to disagree. I mean how can you know for sure – categorically – that you want something or not if you’ve not done it. I think having kids is an area where that kind of thinking is bound to fuck up the future parents and the kids. At the same time most people I know say that if they knew how hard it was ahead of time they might not have kids – but since everyone says that and the kids keep on coming suppose there is some evolutionary protective device in there that blocks full comprehension to ensure the survival of the species.
Do I need to have kids to contribute to humanity? To leave a legacy? To make a difference? I do not think so (and that’s probably not what should inspire the desire to sire anyhow.) There are a lot of ways to contribute aside from the genetic imprint.
For example, Johnny Cash chose to wear black. He wore it “for the poor and the beaten down living in the hopeless hungry side of town; for the thousands who have died, believin’ that the Lord was on their side; for another hundred thousand who have died, believin’ that we all were on their side.” Now that is a strategy with which I can get fully on board. Johnny wrote this song after talking to college kids about the world they were living in and the futility that world can engender; he listened. Is there a better way to parent than that?
Well, there’s things that never will be right I know,
And things need changin’ everywhere you go,
But ’til we start to make a move to make a few things right,
You’ll never see me wear a suit of white.
Ah, I’d love to wear a rainbow every day,
And tell the world that everything’s OK,
But I’ll try to carry off a little darkness on my back,
‘Till things are brighter, I’m the Man In Black.
So, maybe for now I’ll just keep on doing my part by being monochromatic, and try to carry off a little darkness on my back.
Plus, let’s face it, it is slimming.