I have reached the point in the life of the American female where everywhere I look I have friends who are getting married and making new human beings out of an activity that I have always looked upon as simply fun, exciting and a great way to spend a rainy afternoon, but not life changing. After getting engaged myself - although god knows when the actual wedding will take place - I have been bombarded by questions of when my better half and I will be adding to the population like good red-blooded Americans should.
The answer has always been way in the future, if it ever happens at all.
I never played with dolls or pretended to be a mom or anything like that. Those games always seemed monumentally boring to me - I much preferred running, jumping, climbing trees, riding horses, fighting with boys and getting lost and dirty in the woods behind my childhood home.
My own mother has advised me not to have children. Honestly, after having to deal with me as an infant and toddler I have no idea why they decided to have my brother.
To be fair, they do love him more.
Anyway, regardless of my own desires and advice from all and sundry, I can't help but wonder about that whole procreation thing. Would I be a good mother? Recently on CNN I read an article entitled "9 Things You Shouldn't Say To Your Child". Perfect, I thought. I'll read that and see if I would say those things to my child, and based on that decide if I should make babies.
Seems like solid logic, no?
Ok, here we go.
1. "Leave me alone!"
Shit, we are already off to a bad start. According to the article, this includes phrases like, "Don't bother me," and "I'm busy." I would say all of this to my kid. Cause sometimes I am busy! Actually, I'm busy a lot. Like right now. I'm writing. If I had a little sentient being tugging on me, begging me to see his or her newest accomplishment - like walking or using the toilet (both of which I do all the time - get over it!) - I would probably be like, "Um, can't you see that I am working and I never wanted to have you in the first place?"
Hold tight, readers, we still have eight more to go.
2. "You're so . . ."
I didn't understand this one until I read the rest of the paragraph. This is stuff like, "Why are you so mean?", "How could you be such a klutz?", or "She's my shy one." This includes seemingly positive things, like calling your child smart. Apparently young children believe what they hear without question (stupid) and saying things like this can pigeon-hole children and become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Honestly, that's kinda awesome. If I had a kid, I'd say things like, "You are the new world leader - the children around you are chattel and meant to serve you. You are Alexander, Ghengis Khan and Charlemagne reborn. Go forth and take back what's yours!"
Yeah, that'd turn out really positive.
3. "Don't cry."
This includes "Don't be sad," "Don't be a baby," and even "There's no reason to be afraid." So this logic is based on the idea that children have complex feelings and telling them "Don't be . . ." gives the impression that their feelings are invalid and can lead to stunted emotions later in life. Ok, even parents have to admit - sometimes kids' feelings ARE invalid. Scared of the dark? Don't be dumb. Be scared of something that makes sense. Like alien abduction. That's terrifying.
I'm just saying they should actually be afraid of what's actually scary.
4. "Why can't you be more like your sister?"
Making comparisons between children can make the less desirable child feel like you want them to be someone other then they are. Understandable, though I think I am not out of line to point out that these comparisons make the other child in the equation feel awesome! If you have two kids and one is obviously a fuck up, doing everything you can to nurture the one who might actually make something of themselves and thus be able to take care of you later in life (remember, we probably won't have Social Security to fall back on), seems like a good strategy for the future.
This is all about self preservation, people.
5. "You know better than that!"
Other phrases that fall under this category include "I can't believe you did that!" and "Its about time!" This is getting a little ridiculous. If I have a child that has ears and can speak and understand English and I tell them not to do something and then they do it, they sure as shit are going to be hearing this phrase! Even if they don't have ears and don't speak English, you'd have to be pretty thick to not to get when someone is displeased about something you did. And if someone, like your mother, is upset about something you did, don't fucking do it.
6. "Stop or I'll give you something to cry about!"
Now I'm not supposed to threaten my own child? Listen, if I make a another human being and destroy my rather attractive body while doing so, I will be able to threaten that creature. Apparently spanking and physical reprimanding of children has been shown ineffectual in changing behavior for the positive. I have only one thing to say about that.
You just aren't smacking 'em hard enough!
7. "Wait till Daddy gets home!"
This one I agree with. Postponing discipline makes it more difficult for the child to connect the discipline with whatever the hell they did wrong this time. This is actually very similar to the way you would correct an animal. If your dog shits on the floor and you find it hours later, you really can't rub their face in it and expect them to remember that its their poop. If you catch the animal in the act and yell at them while they're doing it, they can link the act with your disapproval. Whats more, its like, come on, grow a set and discipline the kid! No need to wait for Daddy, pick up the belt and do it yourself.
8. "Hurry up!"
Ok, now this is just silly. Now they are saying that yelling at the kid for being a slow-poke and making you late can just make them feel guilty. Let me tell you, they SHOULD feel guilty! What if I am on my way to an audition with Stephen Spielberg? You make me late? You loose me millions of dollars? You aren't just going to feel guilty, you're going to feel broken legs too. Then at least you'll have a reason to be late. Cause you can't walk!
9. "Great job!" or "Good girl!"
I can't threaten and I can't praise? What the crap? I do agree you should only praise things that deserve praise and not every little thing. When I was a kid and I didn't win a match or score high enough on a jumping course or if I feel off the balance beam, I didn't get a frikin trophy. In karate I got the shit beaten out of me, horseback riding I had to spend more time on the horse which meant terrible aching muscles and in gymnastics I would be strapped into a machine that would hold me in center splits for hours.
All that is true, by the way.
Ok, so what have we learned from this?
In my own humble opinion, either I would raise the next great mind in human history, or the anti-Christ.
Strangely enough, I am totally ok with either one of these options.
Fuck, I guess I have to have a baby now.