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Charlie Hatton
Brookline, MA



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Howdy, friendly reading person!
I'm on a bit of a hiatus right now, but only to work on other projects -- one incredibly exciting example being the newly-released kids' science book series Things That Make You Go Yuck!
If you're a science and/or silliness fan, give it a gander! See you soon!

64

#64. I do not have children, and cannot fathom ever, ever wanting that to change.

Now, this isn’t meant as a knock on those of you with children. I respect what you’re doing out there, really. And thank goodness somebody is willing to put up with all the crap that caring for kids entails, or we wouldn’t have any adults, now, would we? And better you than me, if you’re one of those parent types of people. Believe me, you’re doing a much better job than I’d be able to muster. One thousand percent, at least.

You see, I’m all about simplicity in life. Comfort’s good, too, as is convenience. I don’t think of myself as selfish, because, frankly — I don’t have to. My wife is fun, easygoing, and knows how to have a good time. Neither of us likes to make the other’s life difficult, or make convoluted plans, or start (or deal with) ‘drama‘ in any of its various forms. We’re simple city folk, just trying to get by, enjoy our time together, and relax with a beer every now and then. You know, the ‘American Dream‘ and all that.

So why, I ask myself, would I want, under any circumstances, to bring a small, needy person with no skills and a million demands into the equation? Or, God forbid, two or three of the little critters? What exactly would that get me, besides poorer, snippier (if that’s possible), and gray of hair? And frankly, I don’t have a good answer for that question. Neither have the many friends and relatives who’ve tried to answer it for me. Unsolicitedly, I might add. Harumph.

Look, I don’t want to appear to be uncooperative or insensitive to others. Certainly, I like to help friends with their problems. I’m a good listener. I like to think I’m generous, and helpful, and generally kind. (Unless you’re a pushy telemarketer, or some asshole who cuts me off on the highway. In that case, yours is a set of parents who shouldn’t have had kids. Suck on that, pork chop!) But there are a few differences between these gestures of good will and the slavery into which parents find themselves manacled.

For one thing, my friends (generally) know how to feed themselves. What’s more, they know exactly where to make their ‘tinkles’ and ‘number two’, and (again, generally) always perform the procedures involved correctly. And neatly. And with no need of assistance from anyone, most especially me. Look, I like my friends. Some of them — the really close ones, the ones I go way back with — I suppose I could say I love. But if they hit the point where they both need diapers and can’t change them, and I’m the only one available? Well, I’m gonna become unavailable before you can say ‘Depends‘ three times fast. No, dude, it doesn’t depend — you soil ’em, you boil ’em. I’m not coming anywhere near you without a hazmat suit and a gas mask full of Lysol. You get yourself freshened up, and we’ll talk, but until then, just count me out.

Ditto that for feeding these people. Mind you, I’m not above making with the ‘choo-choo train‘ and ‘here comes the airplane‘ talk and shoving food in someone’s mouth. But if that’s what I’m doing, it had better be a girl, she’d better be hot, and I’d damned well better be on my way to getting laid. So, at this point in my life, it had best be my wife. And she doesn’t ask for the old ‘choo-choo‘ routine very often, let me tell you. (Though she is a bit more amenable to having the airplane fly into the ol’ hangar, but that’s probably a story for another day.) Anyway, under no circumstances am I going to be stuffing creamed corn or applesauce into anyone’s gob for laughs, so why set myself up for that with some little ragamuffin who’s as likely to puke it back up on me as shit it into Mr. Pampers? Again, what’s in it for me?

Okay, perhaps that’s a little harsh. But then again, no, it isn’t. See, right now it can be all about me, and my wife, and sometimes, the dog. Because that’s all I really have to worry about on a day-to-day basis. My friends are great, but they do a dandy job of washing themselves, and dressing themselves, and behaving themselves in public, all on their own. Okay, so some of them do a dandier job than others, I’ll admit. And some have significant others to help keep them in line, as I do. But still, I don’t see any of them running around naked on their lawn, or showing up at work with their pants on their head, or yelling and screaming like tiny banshees as soon as they get in their damned seat on the plane. And those are not behaviors that I personally want to be responsible for discouraging in others. Really, it’s all I can do some days not to strip down and frolic naked in the backyard myself.

In the end, I take a very logical stance when looking at this question. That’s just who I am, and it’s who I’d still be if some little hellion accidentally ended up in my life. Sure, I might be tender and weepy for a while — oh, I’d damned well be weepy — but eventually, I’d get back to the cold, calculating levelheadedness that got me this far in life. Thirty-plus years of nature and nurture aren’t going to go away, you see. And so, I can’t say that I’d make a very patient father, or a very understanding father, and I don’t think I’d enjoy the process all that much.

Which, probably not coincidentally, is a bit the way my father seems, when I look back at my early years. Oh, he tried — bless his heart, he made one hell of an effort — but he’s also pretty logical, and tends to frown upon activities that don’t make any damned sense whatsoever. Like most of what I did for the first twenty years or so of my life, and still occasionally do today. He did his best, and we have a pretty good relationship, I think. He loves me, and I love him, and we can talk about sports, and sometimes work. But I’m not sure we really know each other — we’re just not the kind of person who are going to roll up our sleeves and get in there and feel a lot of things, when we really don’t have to.

It’s different with my wife, of course, and that’s the card a lot of the yea-sayers play when talking about children. ‘It’s like a little version of your wife.‘ ‘If you love your wife, you’ll love your kids, probably even more.‘ ‘Oh, just do it — I’ve got kids, and misery loves company, dammit.‘ (Okay, maybe they don’t say that last one. But I can see it in their eyes. Trust me.)

Anyway, I don’t buy it. Look, all those things I said I wouldn’t do for my friends? I’d do them for my wife in a heartbeat. All those things, and many, many shuddery keep-you-awake-at-night-just-thinking-about-them more. And I think she’d do the same for me, unless I’d pissed her off that day, maybe. But our relationship is different. We chose each other. We have compatible personalities, similar interests, and complimentary talents. We like many of the same shows, and bands, and toppings on our pizza. A kid would be a crapshoot! There’s a very good chance the thing would be petulant, or high-maintenance, or whiny. The damned thing might even develop a taste for anchovies, for crying out loud! We could never order pizza again!

So I say, ‘no way.’ Why ruin a good thing when our best years are ahead of us? We’ve got a house, and a few car payments left. Certainly, we don’t have the money to be supporting some little layabout mooch. And when we do, why throw it into school supplies and Garanimals and Fisher-Price toys? We can travel, and see the world, and relax on a beach, and shush down a mountain somewhere. (As opposed to shushing some little brat who doesn’t want to eat his strained peas.) I just don’t see the advantage.

Sure, I hear about how ‘rewarding‘ and ‘magical‘ having a child is, but really — when you’ve cleaned one pile of barf off the floor, haven’t you more or less cleaned them all? I think our dog keeps us plenty on our toes in that department as it is, thank you very much. She’s just enough of a handful for us to manage, and even then, we need the odd evening away for sanity’s sake. Which is another huge difference when you have a kid, of course. We can leave for a nice dinner and leave the dog at home with a scoop of peanut butter and a doggie door to the back yard. Try that with a kid, and they’ll throw you in jail. Now you tell me, who’s having a rewarding time, eh?

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