Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Who's Your Daddy?

Busy couple of weeks combined with, sadly, a grim headshaking despair at the ridiculous inability of about a third of my fellow Americans to put down their fucking teabags and accept things like paying taxes as the price of civilization and the lunacy of the idea of returning our nation to the open oligarchy of the Gilded Age that has kept me silent.

That, and March is roaring in like a sorry, soggy, mangy sort of lion and with it the annual stations of my personal cross. Ugh.

But thinking about Bryn made me think of parenting in general, and that, in turn, turned me to a couple of news items pitched at me or dropped on my digital carpet like a particularly noisome headless mouse by some friends of mine.

And, speaking of noisome things, when you have come to recognize the sound of your dying cat's ass exploding it may be that the time has come for said moggie to find herself half in love with easeful Death. I'm just sayin'; the laundry list (and I do not speak figuratively here) of the items you have shat on is getting longer than your tail, cat, and you've shat on that, too. I've spent fifteen years with you curled on my lap, little friend, but this incessant incontinence is wearing on my patience and the overall aroma of the house as well.

Still, it seems monstrously unfair to end a life, even a small life, because the end of that life has become nothing worse than a rather embarrassing and physically unpleasant nuisance.

Anyway, the main reason I started this post is because a friend of mine - who is childless by choice and chooses to continue as such - linked to this article and, yes, it is fucking Newsweek but that in and of itself should not be an excuse. The author's point is pretty straightforward:
"As younger Americans individually eschew families of their own, they are contributing to the ever-growing imbalance between older retirees—basically their parents—and working-age Americans, potentially propelling both into a spiral of soaring entitlement costs and diminished economic vigor and creating a culture marked by hyperindividualism and dependence on the state as the family unit erodes."
But more to my point is that this is a pretty standard screed you hear from the sort of anti-tax/pro-oligarchy types mentioned above; OMFG! We're not breeding! We're dooooomed!

Not mentioned in these screeds - and not mentioned by the author of this Newsweek thing - is that the subvocal corollary of this wail of despair is that "us wealthy white people aren't spawning..!" Or white people, anyway, wealthy or no. The enthusiastic breeding by the lesser sorts beyond the Law - the blacks and browns, both imported and domestic - aren't mentioned. It's the prospective dearth of precious whities that seems to be being mourned here.

That's pretty goddamn ignorantly racist, but, whatever.

But beyond that is the entirely, painfully, bone-stupid obliviousness of the damn thing.

Because the human bottom line has always, always, been that once people - and the people are usually but not always women because women end up doing the most of it - gain the ability to safely prevent pregnancy they do.

I've talked a fair bit on this blog about parenting and my take on it. That take hasn't changed. It's not really hard and it's not really work. If anything the worst parts of parenting are most similar to the worse parts of warfare; hours, days and weeks of endless, mind-numbing boredom spiked with irritating trivialities interrupted by brief moments of heart-squeezingly frightful terror.

So, not surprisingly, if you're sane and not a Duggar the first thing you do when you find a way to have sex and not have babies is to use it.

L love my kiddos. Usually. They're typically sweet and loving, silly and imaginative and vigorous and gentle.

But they're also kids. Raising a kid is often like playing catch with a Labrador; you're gonna get bored a long, long time before the kid or the dog. What's your limit on My Little Pony or tic-tac-toe or playing with LEGOs? I have no idea in absolute terms but I will tell you that it's way lower than your kids'.

And they're also greedy and short-sighted, demanding, irrational, and their intellectual horizon is typically about the far side of this room. They're often whiny, and fight with each other, and my wife, and me. Their little lives are a constant struggle for attention, which is wearing when you're at the stage where you're constantly struggling for dignity and a little silence.

So what did this Newsweek idiot expect? That all those smart twentysomethings were gonna take a kiddo HEAT-round for Team America? That Joe and Molly were gonna give up that loft in the Pearl and move to Clackamas and start cranking sprogs out of her belly like water out of a hose so our journalist can be sure that there's someone to change his Depends thirty years down the road? That those young white folks would throw themselves on the baby grenade so the national demographics aren't all jacked up in thirty years?

Sorry, pal; people don't work like that.

So my bride and I chose to go down the kid road.

But I won't pretend for a moment that that road's been a cheery nonstop ride, or that there's something wonderful and virtuous about it. The pavement's cracked and rough, the scenery's nice in spots but damn deadly dull in others, and there's not a single goddamn way to be sure that the entire journey won't be for nothing when you get to the end and the sign there says "convict" or "unemployed layabout" or "surly lout" or "whiny drama queen". If you learn anything during parenting it's that you get about 1 or 2 out of the 10 things that influence how and who your kid turns out to be. Or IF they turn out to be; this Friday is an ever closer reminder that all that love and care and wishing and hoping can end in a sifting handful of ashes.

But that's another thought for another day.


Talyssa said...

Your children are so cute! This post made me laugh, I enjoy the way you write its kinda quirky! haha

It's horrible to believe that in this day and age, people are still so concerned about the whites not breeding!!! So ridiculous, I mean I wouldn't even exist if every race decided to keep breeding within themselves...this idea of ethnic preservation is so backwards...

Big Daddy said...

I often find myself asking why we thought it was a good idea to have children too. On the one hand they fill us with love and pride, and on the other hand they make me tear out my hair in frustration.
I still think it was the right choice, for us as a family, and the author of the Newsweek article is a total tool. Arguing that white people need to make babies sounds uncomfortably like those German Motherhood they handed out in the 30s.
Regarding your declining cat, I guess the question is how does the cat feel about the exploding butt issue? I know it can't speak but there should be some idea of whether it hurts or doesn't care. Our last family cat was helped along after she developed cancer and was having a bad time of it.
On a lighter note has some interesting linguistic concepts related to despatching zombies.

FDChief said...

Talyssa: Be warned - I'll tell them you told me that. For ten minutes they'll be as insufferable as Seal Team 6.

I don't know how it is in Australia, but here in the U.S. our "conservatives" have a hell of a lot of this sort of racist stuff that they try and hide under dog-whistle words like "anchor babies" and "entitlements" and special privilege". The dirty little secret we - they, at least - try and keep out of the daylight is that a huge portion of our "conservatives" are nothing more than the rancid detritus of the American apartheid apparatus that was formally but not socially dismantled in the Great Society/Civil Rights Era of the Sixties.

These gomers left the Democratic Party (where they had lived as "Southern Democrats" since the end of our Civil War) and became Republicans but kept all their race terrors about huge unemployed Negroes coming to impregnate their daughters. Or taking over the country club. Or something. And, yes, it IS vile. So vile that they can't just come out and say it. But it comes out in these sorts of panic-screeds about how the young people aren't reproducing.

FDChief said...

BD: Yep. Can't live without 'em, can't send 'em to an island bound in heavy chains...

And the thing is, that outside episodes of random projectile defecation little Lily seems perfectly comfortable. If she was suffering or debilitated it'd be different. But she's not, and so I have a hard time just putting her down because I don't like cleaning used cat food off the carpet...

Leon said...

Do cat diapers exist?

Sorry to hear about your kitty.

FDChief said...

Leon: They do, but the little cat has a long history of tearing off anything you try and put on her fur; collars, bandages, you name it. A friend once got her this little "kitty raincoat" and I thought she was going to go completely insane. I don't think the diaper idea will work. Sadly...

Syrbal/Labrys said...

My eldest "kid" (35 in February) and I were discussing this very topic today. First, the sick pet thing....we took in as a rescue a lovely little keeshond once. It had been abandoned in a friend's fenced yard. We adored this cheery, bright and loving animal....and after three weeks, we knew why someone dumped it: it had seizures.

No amount of meds stopped the violent things, the dog saw auras and sometimes we could scoop him up and outdoors before every bodily function was lost in terror of convulsions. I begged my family to let me end it gently. My kids and husband unified against me. So when we left the house, the poor dog was put in a run. And on a wet, cold November day, he died there alone in seizure.

I wept for days and was too furious to talk to my family. But they all learned the lesson.

I had kids. Mostly, though I love them, I regret that decision. Because I hate the world I will be leaving them to live in; but I believe all of them (even my very dysfunctional daughter) are people who genuinely try to make it a better world.