At 29, female and happily married, there is one question I despise more than all others. Its the dreaded, “When are you going to have kids?” People always throw it in there casually, too. Usually between such innocuous questions as, “Hows your mother?” or, “Wheres the bathroom?” Just as Im getting comfortable in a conversation, someone drops in wondering if my ovaries are firing at full capacity and how often Im banging my man. And while theyre at it, whats my current condom bill? Because really, thats what asking about family planning boils down to. (Source: The Most Invasive Question I Get Asked Daily, by Julie Zack Yaste)
“Do you have children?” It’s a question I’ve gotten repeatedly in my travels, as cultures everywhere celebrate children and women’s ability to produce them. I don’t, nor do I plan to for reasons both personal and environmental. But not wanting to spark an awkward exchange, I’d usually demur with, “Not yet.”
It's Thursday, time for verse, for edgy verse, and curiously potent advice from thoughtful English librarian and writer Philip Larkin. Childfree advice…
This Be The Verse
They fuck you up, your mum and dad.
They may not mean to, but they do.
They fill you with the faults they had
And add some extra, just for you.
But they were fucked up in their turn
By fools in old-style hats and coats,
Who half the time were soppy-stern
And half at one another’s throats.
Man hands on misery to man.
It deepens like a coastal shelf.
Get out as early as you can,
And don’t have any kids yourself.
Philip Larkin (via The Poetry Foundation)
A quirky poem from a quirky poet. What say you? Is the childfree choice a chance to abbreviate the cycle of &$@#ing up? 😉
Before tackling the topic of Pee-pee Teepees and tinkle targets I’d like to digress briefly to matters more mammary and less urinary.
I remember hearing from a friend when he became a new father that his wife had received a breastfeeding cover-up (aka nursing cover, Bebe Au Lait, etc.) called a Hooter Hider. Although I practice selective hearing when talk turns to tykes, this gem caught my attention.
“A what?” I shot back.
“A Hooter Hider, you know, like to cover up your boobs when you’re nursing,” he explained.
No, I didn’t know.
This remains one of my bigger disappointments about choosing childfreedom. No breastfeeding chez nous. I’m sure it’s a less sexy proposition when your wife is oozing funny colored milk, but the idea of a bare boob being thrust into the limelight around the clock has always fascinated me. But I’m getting offtrack.
Introducing the Tit Tent
As if the name Hooter Hider isn’t good enough already, my friend brought it to my attention because he was certain he’d dreamed up a viable contender brand. Tit Tent.
While Tit Tent could indeed inspire clever advertising ditties (and graphics), I suspect that it would not be a big hit with the target market: mothers. Fair enough.
But I couldn’t resist the urge to Google “Tit Tent”. And much to my surprise and amusement I discovered that my friend was beaten out by a clever European marketing team.
The Tit Tent: This one was really popular in Belgium in the summer of 2009 after a massive marketing campaign by the newspaper Het Nieuwsblad! A tent in the shape of, well, a boob. (10 Coolest Camping Tents)
808 Solutions… designed round tents (a breast is round -not square like most tents are-) fully customized, including a nipple and aureole on the top of the tent. (808)
I must admit that I can’t figure out exactly what the marketing campaign was promoting. Nor can imagine that market demand for Tit Tents is high enough to justify manufacturing these maternal camping cribs for campers. But it sure would make finding your own tent at the end of a concert a little easier. (BTW: Two-tone beanies which looked just like the Tit Tent were allegedly part of the marketing campaign. Sleeping caps, I suppose.)
Okay enough with my breast digression. On to piddle products.
I sometimes joke that the more I lower my standards, the more I exceed my expectations. Well, my poop post inevitably invited similar potty post suggestions from the peanut gallery including links to the two following items. So, yes, I apologize in advance. Part of being childfree is being able to avoid poo-poo and pee-pee conversations. In fact, it’s a HUGE bonus. But, I figure parents’ don’t have an exclusive on potty talk, so I’m weighing in.
First up, is a product that looks for all the world like a fun party hat. Referred to elsewhere as wee-wee tents (the moniker that reminded me about Tit Tents), “Pee-pee Teepees for Baby Boys” were just too bizarre to resist.
Why is it that the act of diaper changing always seems to inspire an extra “contribution” from the little one? Parents of baby boys have been particularly vulnerable – until now. Just place a pee-pee teepee on his wee-wee during diaper changes, and the hazard is averted. An ideal baby shower gift, the five powder blue 100% cotton pee-pee teepees are decorated with airplanes and arrive in a miniature cotton laundry bag. (UncommonGoods)
Are you kidding? I’ve heard that the occupational hazards of changing little mister’s diaper include sprinkler shows on a par with the Versailles fountains, but a Pee-pee Teepee?!?! Won’t the little rocket either:
- fall off, or
- blast off?
Weird. And ready for weirder? Remember my all-too-real urinal deodorizer experience? Sorry, but we’re headed back in that direction again.
At first I thought this was a pretty cool idea. You know, give the little man a fun challenge that will keep his junior manhood trained on the toilet bowl. Small boys’ attention spans wander, and their wizzers’ wander with them. If you can lock their attention on the inside of the potty, you might be able to reduce the perennial pee-pee parfum of children’s bathrooms. But I’m not certain soccer balls, cars and airplanes are the best tinkle targets. Sends sort of a mixed message. Next think you know the rug rat will be tinkling on your soccer ball and marking the airplane aisle. If recent experience is a useful guide, I’d recommend using a target that looks like the front cover of the New Yorker magazine sitting in a caddy next to the toilet. They hit that every time!
But there’s another little issue with the vinyl targets that adhere to the inside of the porcelain. Splash back. If I were target training my sharpshooter, I’d want him focused on the deep well in the middle of the toilet, not the sides which soon enough will result in pee ricocheting back onto the New Yorker. Again.
And besides, would you want to install and clean and remove those?
Yuck. Why no kids? Pee-pee Teepees and Tinkle Targets!
When I read the title of the Slate article Parents Make Better Teachers I was livid!
I’ve spent years dedicating my life to children and education. I didn’t need to have kids of my own to make a difference in the classroom.
Do eye doctors need to have glasses?
Do chefs need to be fat?
Do gynecologists need to have vaginas?
So why the sudden childfree discrimination in education?
Author Sara Mosle writes about her teaching experience as a response to an article in this week’s New York Times about high turnovers at charter schools:
“If you aren’t a parent, maybe this won’t strike you as odd. It wouldn’t have struck me that way more than 20 years ago when I joined Teach for America in the program’s first year and taught for three years in New York City’s public schools. I was single, childless, and clueless about even the most basic aspects of child-rearing. My students’ parents seemed like creatures from another planet, remote and distant from the job I thought I was doing. To the extent I understood family dynamics, it was solely from the perspective of the teenager I’d been just a few years before.
Nearly two decades later, I returned to the classroom, this time as a mother, and have become acutely aware of how being a parent has made me a better teacher.”
Fine. But what about life experience and maturity? Does adding twenty years of life to your resume change anything?
As I read more of the article I learned that the sensational headline was misleading. Besides Sara’s personal story this article says that many charter schools hire recent college graduates to teach and after a few years they leave because there is no room for financial growth or advancement. This turnover makes it difficult for students. Recent grad=cheap labor.
Childfree Teachers are Hot
This has nothing to do with parents being better teachers. So why bring the childfree into it? Because we are HOT! The recent TIME magazine cover article stirred up the debate and got clicks so now even Slate is cashing in on the action. Shame on Slate. Many childfree readers, like me, were annoyed by the deception and blatant childfree attack.
The responses to the article were amazing and worth reading. Childfree teachers called out Slate and the author for baiting the childfree for responses. Go team CF!
Still, it doesn’t seem that people actually read the article. Instead they were responding to the ugly headline, so score one for Slate.
Some of the best comments include this one busting Slate for the obvious lure:
From Tom Tildrum:“Old vs. young, school choice, *and* Mommy Wars? Slate’s editor must have plotzed from excitement when they pitched him this article.”
“You’re not a parent, you can’t possibly understand”
I went to Catholic schools. None of the nuns had children, but they were excellent teachers.
Childfree Teachers Rock
If you really want to know what this childfree teacher thinks about this subject check out this WNK post:
What do you think childfree teachers?