Sunday, January 29, 2012
Last night, Firecracker Hubby and I did something we don't often do. We babysat. For 5 hours. For my best friend, Sara, who I write about a lot in this blog. Sara is one of my oldest and dearest friends and I love her like a sister - actually more than a sister, since we don't have the issues and family baggage that sisters do.
Sara does a lot for us. She catsits when we go away. The last time we went away, she visited every single day of our vacation to visit our cats, since one of our cats needs daily insulin shots. Yes, every day - for 8 days straight - she dutifully made the trek to our house and administered shots to our furboy. And gave them lots of love and attention. Now THAT is a good friend.
So it goes without saying that we were happy to give Sara and her husband a nice night out by themselves, something they rarely get to do. They were so excited when we arrived - all gussied up and smiling, heading out to a film and dinner. It was Sara's hubby's birthday and he was just pleased as punch to get to go out alone with his wife.
Sara and hubby have 2 young boys and she is a stay-at-home-mom for the time being. Money is tight, and babysitters are few, so this was a real treat for them.
So we spent 5 hours entertaining their boys who were happy as clams that we were there. The boys adore us and were jumping up and down with excitement when we arrived. Ugh. 5 hours. Would we be able to handle it?
The answer is - yes, and we had an okay time playing games with them, hubby rough-housing with them, eating pizza with them. But here's the thing about kids. They're okay for a few hours, but it is mind-numbingly boring to be around them for hours on end. I was sitting there, playing Candyland with the younger boy while he prattled on incessantly and I thought to myself how do people do this every day without blowing their brains out?
I am a person who needs intellectual stimulation. I like thought-provoking books and films. I am drawn to intelligent, insightful people. I like to think philosophically. I question things. I think critically. Yes, I enjoy a good dose of dumbness sprinkled through my life, but being around dopey, chatterbox kids non-stop would send me heading off a cliff.
People often say that having children makes a person grow. I don't know. I think having kids would be a akin to getting a lobotomy.
They are completely self-centered. They are undeveloped. They are (for the most part) uninteresting. They ramble on non-stop. They think everything they do is fascinating (when it is not), and they expect us to act as though it is. They need constant praise and approval. They are attention whores. They expect the world to revolve around them.
At the same time, they are at times funny, cute, entertaining and affectionate. I wouldn't say being around them makes me a better person. It just makes me tired and braindead.
In the final analysis, a few hours with kids - here and there - is tolerable and at times, even enjoyable. Their innocence and the novelty of them can even be entertaining and a nice diversion.
We do love the children in our lives - in small doses.
Thursday, January 12, 2012
I was heating up my lunch today in the office kitchen when an associate (who I do not know well) asked me how I was doing and how my holidays were. We got to chatting about holidays and winter and I mentioned that I am disappointed that we haven't gotten any snow this year so far because I love to ski, particularly on real snow, as opposed to machine-made. She was nodding vigorously in agreement, so I asked her if she also likes to ski. She said, "Yes, I used to... B.C." I asked, "B.C.?" and she replied, "Before Children". We both got a good laugh. I replied, "I like that! So let's see...I guess that makes me F.C. - Free of Children!" She looked a little confused for a moment, but then she laughed.
Exchanges like this are seemingly small and insignificant until one really thinks about the bigger implication of what is being expressed. I like to think of these types of interactions as nice little reminders of just how good we childfree people have it. So often we take for granted our freedoms and our ability to continue doing all the things we love uninterupted when so many of our counterparts long ago bid farewell to their hobbies, their friends, their interests, their free time and adult recreation because they made one seemingly simple decision. If the thought pops into my mind that I might like to go skiing on Saturday, I pack up my skiis, hop in the car and head to the slopes. If a parent decides he would like to go skiing on Saturday, he will most likely immediately decide that it's impossible because it would involve taking the kid, which would not work because the kid does not know how to ski, or does not want to learn how to ski, or decides it would be too expensive to take the kid, or it would be too difficult to arrange a sitter on such short notice, or it wouldn't be possible because Saturday is the day that Junior has football practice. Just thinking about it is enough to bring on a headache.
But it's not just our pursuit of recreation that is so much easier for the childfree. When I go home after a busy day at work, I most likely will not feel like cooking. Maybe I will throw together a salad. Maybe I will eat a bowl of cereal. Or maybe (if I am feeling particularly naughty, which tends to happen as it gets closer to the weekend) I will eat chocolate chip cookies. In any of these scenarios, here's what I am not doing. I am not slaving. I am not serving. I am not rushing. I am not negotiating. I am not catering to picky tastes. I am not making multiple meals to please multiple palates. I am not worrying. And the icing on the cake? I am not spending $800 - $1,200 a month on groceries!
Oh, my poor, pitiable childfree life - such an empty, lacking life - sitting home with hubby at night, relaxing on the couch, reading or cackling over Seinfeld re-runs, talking leisurely about our day, making plans for the weekend, going to bed early and getting a nice, full night of sleep, waking up well-rested, having time in the morning to exercise, browse the internet, have a nice breakfast together, talk and ease into the day. No racing, no rushing, no corraling, no noise, no arguing, no homework, no resentment.
The morale of this story? A life B.C. is good, but a life F.C. is infinitely better.