Monday, August 13, 2007

Child-Free American

So the other night we were at dinner with Steven and Lauren and were seated across from Steven's friends Forrest, Marina and their kid, Blaze. Blaze, you must understand, looks like he should be in grape juice commercials, is talkative without being annoyingly precocious and had not an ounce of bratty in him. In short, a good kid.

Unsure of what else to chat about, Blaze seemed like a good option. And in the course of the discussion someone accurately described Jamie and I as "childless". But that person was quickly shot down in favor of what must be a new term: Child-Free.

Apparently this term was cooked up to spare the feelings of those who would like to have children, but do not. I am both amused and horrified that, for the first time in my life, as a middle class white male I've had a PC label applied to me. My feelings must be mitigated through semantics. I am to be described in a way that suggests I have made a valid choice of alternative lifestyle, and that choice is recognized and appreciated by all.

Were Jamie and I the same age we were when we left for Arizona, the question of the number of children we had left behind with Gorton's fish sticks and Kraft Mac'n'Cheese would never be addressed. Young, recently married, we'd be expected to be having a great time, going to shows, travel the world, etc...

But now...

Now we are in our 30's. In March and April, it will be semi-accurate to describe us as being in our mid-30's. We are past the age when we've gotten our careers going, have had our youthful fun, and its time to bring the next generation of Leagues into existence. For the rest of my life, it will be presumed I'm hiding a couple of fishstick-eaters somewhere.

For anyone who has followed this blog, its not a secret that this is not going to happen. I like kids. Despite all the jokes I make at the expense of folks who are now wrestling with sleepless nights, dirty diapers and paying for college in 17 years... And as much as I like sleeping in, not having dirty diapers and spare money enough to buy Jimmy Olsen comics... Having kids just isn't in the picture. We didn't make the choice, but it's also never been in the cards, and so was never been given much consideration any more than "wouldn't it be neat if we had hands where our ears are".

I want to be very clear here: In no way am I offended by assumptions that we should have kids. I don't think folks who have kids are suckers. I was just left reeling at the idea that I had moved into a category which I had not been aware existed.

Now, here's what I dig about my valid lifestyle choice as a Child-Free American... It may keep me from going through the battery of questions all child-rearing folks (AKA: Breeders) have:
-when we plan to have kids
-why we don't plan to have kids
-why we don't press on and adopt, because, you know, we'd make swell parents (a topic which is sorely up for debate, and would require experiments that no western government would allow. Jason's hypothesis: Feral Children.).

As Child-Free Americans its like we decided on a different path in life. Like, say, we decided to live in a dymaxion home or done something else slightly unconventional, but, you know, it's just something you let slide.

As a Dog-Saddled/ Child-Free American, unfortunately, you have a great love for your pets. And people really, really do not like you matching their stories about how their kid smiles when he farts with how your dog wakes you up in the morning when she's hungry, or how your cat has figured out how to open the pantry door. Still, I must remind everyone that your kid will be in diapers for years and my dog learned to go to the door before she was six months old when she had to pee. I'm just saying.

Pretty sharp, my dogs.


J.S. said...

What a strange post. By the way, I think you were mislabeled. Given the fact that you can't have kids, you're still childless- not child free. The child free label is meant to respect the decision of people who choose not to have kids- not to protect the feelings of people who can't have them. Of course, I guess you could be both childless and child-free. If you want to be put in this category I think you have to own up to not wanting kids, though (and I'm still not clear on whether or not you would want to have kids if it were possible after having read your blog).

Carla said...

This is a great post.

I think you are Child Free in that you choose not to have children. Being able to or not doesn't matter. Or it shouldn't.

I think a lot of breeders want company. Misery loves it. Not that kids are misery, it just puts you in a category where 9 pm is late and spit up on your clothing is an accessory. You want other people to be in your circle.

We are catching a lot of peer pressure for only wanting one child. Everyone with more than one, which means everybody, tells us to have more. It's crazy.

And I don't mind pet to children comparisons at all. I sometimes in a stressful situation almost call X-man my old dogs name, Sprocket. This actually happens more than I'd like to admit.

And I must remind you that diapers are in your future. YOUR future. We will all end up back there. But I guess the point is that you won't have to change them. That will be up to McSteans or the aggressive underpaid nurse. :)

I'm sure I've pissed off a bunch of people and I'm sorry. Didn't mean too.

JAL said...

I gotta admit, too, that this is a strange post. I can't quite figure out if your dogs have saddles or if you have a saddle made of dogs.

I like to think it's the latter, that you ride the wasteland of a Cormac McCarthy-esque West with Lucy and Mel quite literally at your sides, a shotgun clamped tight Lucy's mouth and Mel on the lookout for murderers and bandits.

If, by chance it is the former, and your dogs have saddles, why don't you have a monkey to ride them? For shame, sir, for shame.

Anonymous said...

I wonder how a "McLeague" would have turned out.

The League said...

Surprising what a touchy issue having or not having kids. Even down to how many to have in order to propogate the species.

Perhaps what complicates things all the more is the biological imperative at play versus my love of Silver and Bronze Age back issues which complicates things so.

Now, Jamie and I COULD have possibly adopted if not for Jamie's lengthy criminal record, so I think that still qualifies us as Child Free.

As per the dogs, Mel runs ahead of the horses on look out, and Lucy runs behind picking up quail and doves I shoot so we can all have a good dinner.

The League said...

Anonymous, to answer your question:

Anonymous said...

Here's something related to this conversation ...

ALSO! When you're at Google, and type "Melbotis" and click "I'm feeling lucky", it takes you straight here!

The League said...

I believe when one types in "Melbotis" in Google, most roads lead back here whether I like it or not. I do plenty of ego searches.

Hey, if you can afford it, go nuts and have a million kids, or... try to help out some poor kid without parents and open your house and heart.

Jill said...

I love this post. Like CB, people are always asking when we're going to have another. As if having a gaggle of kids is our social responsibility. We've recently been thinking about the environmental impact of having lots of kids, and it really makes us pause.

Anyway, I sort of love that you, of all folks, now have a PC label. Does it make you a little itchy?

The League said...

I don't think it hit me until Sunday. But, yeah, it was interesting to see that I've now been popped outside of being Johnny Average.

I look forward to a lifetime of rolling my eyes and politely laughing when the label is applied.