It was a slight against nature itself.
And every other person in the coffee shop.
Perhaps it was because I was still waiting on my mocha, and thus not yet properly caffeinated. But I couldn’t really acknowledge the banshee wreaking havoc in my favorite coffee shop as human.
Not your cherub.
I mean the hellion running around screaming, picking his nose, knocking over glass bottles, and jumping off things.
And what, pray tell, was his parental unit doing?
Corralling the little darling?
Apologizing to the man whose pants became a Kleenex?
Of course not.
Even as the baristas stared daggers at her, along with every single patron who’d retreated to this caffeinated oasis for that necessary early morning pep in their step.
And maybe a scone.
Parents reading this are probably already switching to Apartment Therapy or some other, cooler blog (god, I hope so for your sakes), all the while rolling their eyes at me, the nasty mo disparaging The Children.
But I’m not against children.
Just the lackadaisical parents who enable their disruptive behavior. Because the minute I’d have politely asked the parent to manage her child, I would’ve received a scoff and possibly a subpoena in the mail for emotional damage.
How dare I, The Childless Wretch, insist that she, A Parent, subscribe to social morays whilst sharing public space!
Maybe I’m just a little touchy because I’m now of an age where, if I don’t have a child, I’m immediately suspected as being (1) Delusional; (2) Damaged Goods; or (3) Gay.
(And bless the hearts of those who really have to suspect Choice 3 with me.)
But I have several friends with kids—well-behaved, cute kids because their parents are responsible. (Okay, so cute is just a fortuitous byproduct of genetics and good wardrobes.). Still, they don’t expect me to treat them differently, other than understanding that they might not be able to pop by for a quick drink. And while I acknowledge that having kids changes things like that, it doesn’t have to change how you treat people in general.
Now, Choice 2 is one of those nastygrams parents project onto singles who want kids. You know, the whole Oh-you’re-still-single-there-must-be-something-wrong-with-you message. In lieu of a more understanding, truthful Oh-there-are-a-lot-of-assholes-you-have-to-meet-before-someone-good-comes-along-and-wow-I’m-fortunate-I-found-someone-in-this-wreck-of-a-dating-pool–who-didn’t-give-me-crabs-and-sometimes-remembers-my-birthday.
And Choice 3 isn’t really a disqualifier. Although LGBT parenting is much more legally complex, which might dissuade some. (Hey, that’s the truth. If you don’t think so, ask yourself “Do my spouse and I both have legal rights to our child?” Yes? Then count yourself fortunate that the American Theocracy tilted in your favor.)
But you know what?
I don’t want kids.
Not even one.
And it’s not because I don’t want to go through the legal hassle, or identify a surrogate, or initiate the painstakingly long adoption process. And it’s certainly not because I’m a damaged gay.
I just don’t want children.
And I’m not going to be guilted into having them.
Do I respect those who have children and provide responsible, safe care for them?
Sure I do.
Just like I respect anyone who excels at their chosen profession. Good for you.
You wanted this. You’re doing the best you can. Bravo.
That “bravo” just doesn’t seem to cut the mustard. It seems that we all require little reminders of your Precious Moment. (Or, as often seems the case, your That-Time-We-Forgot-To-Strap-On-A-Rubber.)
Like your chalkboard family. (Because fellow motorists care that you chose to have five children. And the girls like Cheerleading! And the boys like Fishing! Even though you’re not engendering your children!)
Or your tacky “Baby on board!” sign. (Because that’ll stop an inattentive driver from smashing into you.)
Or your neon, turtle-shaped “Slow!” sign in the public right of way fronting your house. (Because I’m not going to intentionally swerve and take out that aesthetically offensive, unnecessary traffic hazard.)
Because we all secretly want children and should craft our lives around yours.
You just know it.
Here’s the thing: I’m pretty laid back about kid stuff in the public domain.
I don’t care if you breastfeed. We’re all primates; the tiniest ones require feeding at inopportune moments. And I’d much rather see a feeding curtain than hear a screaming child.
I don’t care if your kid is crying and you’re trying to quiet it and are taking a lot of time grabbing the stroller to escort your kid out of the theatre, room, immediate vicinity of me. Because you’re trying.
I don’t care if you’re watching your child walk around unobtrusively, watching as s/he putters around.
But when I’m going about my day, and your lil’ bit continually gets in my way, or others’ ways, or disrupts the path of a special needs dog, do the right thing.
Don’t be a-wholes.
And be cognizant of the fact that, while you may think children are the best things ever, I may not, and that’s just fine.
Because the last time I checked, two stick figures, or one with a martini glass, are just as good as three, or four, or five.
Actually, just nix the stick figures.
They’re fucking annoying.