Dispatches from the Suburbs of Hell

Heaven is for the obedient. Hell is for the wrathful. What of the ones in between? We wind up in the Suburbs. Our sin is individuality. Our punishment is boredom. But at least we're in good company.

Location: New England, United States

Monday, January 07, 2008

Spraying for Rugrats

With the holidays safely over, and the shopping malls no longer packed to capacity, I feel like I can speak plainly. Besides, it's a whole new year; time to unburden myself. Besides, I've been turning over in my head something my girlfriend said to me one dark shopping day this season. She observed my discomfort and annoyance at all the baby carriages at the mall, crowding the corridors and tying up the elevators, and said, "You really don't like kids, do you?"

It got me thinking about just what it is that I don't like about the whole situation. I came to realize, it's not kids that I hate, per se. I mean, a child is what it is. A child is a loud, messy, selfish, irrational being; that's the nature of childhood, and a child can't help being that. No, it's not children I hate. It's what having children does to people.

Understand, while I have a low opinion of people in general, I believe that no one deliberately sets out to be a bad parent. I'll be the first to admit that some people just should not have kids, and these people often find this out the hard way. But no one has a child with the intention of ruining both their own and that child's life. Parenthood is something that people usually enter into with the best of intentions - or at the least, without deliberate malice. People do the best they can, and some find out that their best just isn't good enough. Raising a child is the simplest thing in the world to do, and the hardest thing in the world to do RIGHT. it tests people to their absolute limits. And, inevitably, it changes them, as such experiences do. I have witnessed it first hand. I have seen people who, before they had children, were interesting and level-headed and fun to be around. Then the children came along. And everything goes down the tubes. People cease to be people, and become PARENTS. So long, pleasant conversation. So long intellectualism. So long books with words. Spending a few decades trying to wrangle irrational creatures is bound to leave you somewhat irrational yourself. And that's what most parents are. Irrational beings, tending to their spawn, oblivious to all else. And with that obliviousness inevitably comes other things. Like smugness and entitlement. Like having a baby carriage to push around gives you the right to hold up the elevator or the bus or something. In my darker moments I just want to rail at them. Yes, congratulations. You spawned. You gave in to a biological imperative and you reproduced. You did your part to contribute to the ultimate environmental collapse of the planet by creating another consumer of resources. You farted out a pink mewling THING that you're going to have to support for at least the next two decades of your life. What, you want a medal? Just find a frigging seat, lady.


On the other hand, perhaps that's as it should be. I mean, children need to be taken care of, and I can't fault one for being TOO attentive to their children's needs. After all, the alternative is even worse: the absentee parent. I've known a few of them too. Fathers who spend their nights at the bar, unwilling - and perhaps, unable - to interact with their kids. Mothers out on the town, convinced they still look fantabulous - too fantabulous to be bothering staying at home rearing their kids. Gah. Few things creep me out more than the Hot Single Mom. Something's just not right about that situation, man. It's not something I'm proud of, but I've been familiar with a Hot Single Mom or two in my time. There's a certain, just-barely-perceptible desperation in them. Single moms are single for whatever reason, and I'm sure it's lonely. I'm sure it's hard to be out with the girls, throwing back cocktails, and then come home at the end of the night only to send the babysitter home. I'm sure it's hard to continue to feel desirable when you need to look after your kids. I'm sure it's hard to meet obligations to others when you have needs of your own. And it makes me feel horrible to say I find it creepy...but it does.

I think it's pretty clear parenthood is not for me. I mean, if I WERE to have a child, I would want to do so when in a position of stability. If I were to have a child, I would want to give him EVERYTHING. Every opportunity, every comfort, every ounce of love and support possible. I'm just not in a position to do that right now, and I don't know if I ever will be. All I DO know is that I don't want to be hauling a baby carriage around a mall...pissing off people like me.