Having kids has never really been part of the picture. Well, my picture at least. Although at the age of twenty one reaching the point of no return called menopause is still far off, from what I’ve gathered from my peers’ reactions, you’re supposed to have at least some kind of inclination toward them at this point. At the very least, I’ve gathered you aren’t supposed to turn and run at the mere mention of procreating.
Bearing a child is, allegedly, the most natural thing one can do, assuming one is a woman and possesses a functioning womb. However, when you get down to it, and I mean really, really sit down have a good long think about it, it just seems, I don’t know, eerie, at best. Pink and blue bibs and cutesy cartoon zoo animal blankets aside, there is an entire person slowly feeding off of your nourishment to grow and form inside of you. To anyone familiar with the alien movie genre, you’ve heard this plot before. However, whereas in the movies the unsuspecting expectant mother has the benefit of being let off the hook for whatever evil plans the thing inside of her has in store for the outside world, in real life, the parent is the first source of blame. One day this person will have thoughts, feelings, and actions. At best, this person will have a positive effect on the world, but there’s also a chance that their intentions will fall more on the alien side of the spectrum, and not the fun teletubby kind. After all, someone had to birth the dictators of the world. Although I haven’t had many conversations with my womb and so can’t say for certain which way it leans, I feel it’s best not to take the risk.
I suppose my apprehension towards children stems from the fact that as a current adult, I was once a child. Therefore, I know firsthand just how cruel and ill-behaved they can be. There’s the odd behavior, such as drooling, publicly urinating on themselves, and having a sense of timing that leads to repeating inappropriate things at really inopportune times. This behavior for some reason is totally cool for kids, but once you bring these behaviors with you into adulthood, you get some funny looks. Presented with the evidence, kids just seem like really badly behaved adults, or at the very least the cast of Jersey Shore.
For evidence of their cruelty, look no further than substitute teachers. As a student who attended preschool through 12th grade, I encountered my fair share of substitutes. Looking back, though, I remember none of them for their merits, and all of them for the weird quirks or other abnormalities that, to the keen child’s eye, became a well of material for mocking.
There was The Witch, or the woman who wore long skirts and burlap shirts who in a past decade had probably moonlighted as a hippie, but now found herself in charge of twenty to twenty-five little people, ready to judge her based on her unorthodox clothing choices alone. She never made us do unnecessary homework, and as I recall even let us skip a few of the mandated assignments and thus attached herself securely on ‘our’ side. And yet despite having no reason to hate or disrespect her, we did.
There was also Mrs.-Gagnon-rhymes-with-’canyon’ who wore eccentric sweaters, not the most eccentric of which included a sweater adorned with dancing rabbits made of genuine rabbit fur. If we were good, she said, we would be allowed to pet one of the rabbits on her arm. Tempting bait, but no one bit. Unless you count the bitingly vicious imitations of her we did at recess later that day.
It didn’t get better with age, either. In high school, there was the poor college student who came to serve out an internship in our Spanish class that, upon coming out on the other side of it, probably ended up feeling more like serving a prison sentence. We berated him mercilessly for his funny pronunciation and general nervous- and sweatiness. High schoolers are like ruthless predators–they can sense fear a mile away, and they’ll use it like cheese in a mousetrap until they’ve got you right where they want you, which is to say trapped and squirming uncomfortably as they look on with glee. This was just my experience, but by all accounts from past teachers, I was one of the good ones. I take that to mean that I was just more clever about hiding my elaborate imitations of them, but still. Would you want to become a substitute teacher after reading that?
Of course, there’s still a chance that eventually I’ll change my mind, and find myself the proud owner of shiny, brand new children. And if I do, I’ll spend time educating them on seeing the positive in people, and do my best to ensure their overall net effect on the world is a good one. But just to be safe, if the teacher calls in sick, I’m sure as hell not sending them to school. And in the meantime, I’m sticking with plants.