Why is it that every time I read anything about kids, they're doing something awful? Really, do you have any idea just how enticing the prospect of having kids in your life becomes when all you ever read is "Daaaad! Britney put a peanut butter sandwich in the DVD player!"? or "Mommy! Mike's punching me in the face!" or "Hey, what'd happen if we flushed an entire roll of toilet paper down the toilet?"
Parenting magazines are full of this stuff. So are general-interest magazines like Macleans. Kids = Chaos. As a man who abhors Chaos and wants it to stay far, far away from him, the acceptance of this theory (it seems to have pulled slightly ahead of gravity in the credibility department) is most unsettling, almost panic-inducing.
I brought this up in a moment of uncertainty a couple of months back and unwittingly startled and upset my beloved. She said something along the lines of 'if you care about "things" so much, you need to look at whether you really want kids at all.'
Well, I've thought about it. I want both. If possible. I mean, I lived without a DVD player for the first thirty-one years of my life, and flooded rooms can be dried out. "Things" aren't so important to me that I'd go crazy without them.
We've spent the last four years of our life gathering up 'stuff' because (a) we had the money to do it and (b) once the house and kids arrive, we won't have the money to do it any more. So it stands to reason that anything substantial broken is likely to *stay* broken for some time. I can live with that. I really can.
It's the uncertainty that bothers me, I think, more than the remote control hurled through the TV screen or the baseball through the window or Coke spilled on my electronic piano or...or...or...The fact my mind can effortlessly spew out dozens of potential items to be broken (hell, anything you can look at, a kid can probably find some way to break), it just rankles. It's 'what's next? Any of the above? Something I'd never even considered? What if it *has* to be replaced? You can't live with a soccer-ball sized hole in your living room bay window, and said window costs four figures. Where's that money come from? And what's to stop it from happening again?'...you see, my mind just runs roughshod over reason.
I will be the first to admit that I have led a sheltered life. Eva's referred to me as 'Bubble Boy' more than once. The thing is, it's comfortable in here. I wake up every morning and I have a pretty good idea of how my day's going to turn out. I'm rarely surprised, almost never unpleasantly so. One of the things I have to teach myself is that having kids is much better than having a sense of stability.
Of course, you hope to raise your kids so they don't turn into hoodlums. But nobody seems to know exactly how this is done, short of straight-jacketing them. My childhood might as well have been spent in a straight-jacket, and I still found ways of destroying things, mostly, in my case, out of sheer clumsiness, but occasionally out of spite. And I didn't even have siblings, which seem to lend a whole new dimension to your family life: instead of simple vandalism, you have to deal with assault causing bodily harm...in some cases, it edges very close to attempted murder. (My wife loves to regale me with the tale of how she and her brother once chased each other around the block armed with butcher knives. They never caught each other, but whoosh, away goes the imagination again, posing that dreadful 'what if?' question.) She tells this tale in a matter-of-fact way, as if I could look out my window any time and see *hordes* of people, all armed with butcher knives, chasing each other around the block, and she seems bewildered and a trifle annoyed by my continuing insistence that This Is Really Scary Behaviour.
See, in my only-child way, I simply can not imagine hating somebody enough to pick up a knife and chase him with it. Yet according to her, this is pretty much normal, certainly nothing to be afraid of.
A brave new world, that has such children in it.
Anyway, it would be nice to see media portrayals of kids (and teenagers--for God's sake, don't get me started on the reported exploits of teenagers in the last three months!) that don't cause my stomach to tie itself up in knots. Civilized behaviour. Random acts of kindness. I'm quite sure these things happen--can I just see some sign of them, please?