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?
I thought it was funny and revealing and current and necessary. Watch the clip for sure. Pass it on. It’s quick and the entire episode is definitely worth a look.
Ever been asked to watch a kid brush his teeth?
What would you say?
I’m pretty sure I was asked by a kid to come see how far he could pee. And I think I did. Which I am trying hard not to recall, because it now seems less funny and more creepy and/or cowardly. He may have peed in the yard. Ah man…
Watch the clip and tell us what you have not been able to say no to with your friends kids?
One thing you’ll never hear at our house: “Mommy, come see my poop!”
And – just to be clear – no “Daddy, come see my poop” either.
Call me self absorbed. Call me squeamish. Call me a Prissy Potty Pooper. Call me whatever you like, but don’t expect me to celebrate a floater unless we’re watching Caddyshack. That’s funny. So funny it’s almost worth celebrating. Though not quite, not unless I’m willing to risk my marriage…
So what’s up with my scatological line of ranting this morning? Déjà vu. A poop flashback!
A little over a decade ago I found myself in Turks and Caicos, miserably happy with my then-girlfriend-now-bride. Pristine beaches, zippy sailing, plein air massages, decadent food and drink, and ten days with the woman who I was (and am still) crazy about. Bliss.
One morning a 4-5 year old boy and his older brother swung by our suite in the morning to visit us before heading off to the ocean. (I’m omitting the name and relationship of the lads to preserve their post-poop years propriety.) They did this most mornings, and we enjoyed it. After eating fresh tropical fruit for breakfast on our balcony we’d debrief the previous days adventures and plan new escapades for the hours ahead. Yes, parents, this side of being around kids is actually really cool for many childfree adults. You see, we share a unique and often exciting bond with kids because, to a degree some of us don’t always admit, we’re not quite as grown up as you!
Suddenly the younger boy burst onto the balcony (I guess he’d wandered off to explore the cool stuff childfree couples leave around their bedrooms?) and grabbed me by the hand. I stood and followed dutifully, thinking he was about to demonstrate how a bra could be used as a catapult or maybe ask me to show him how to make condom water balloons.
He pulled me into the bathroom and pointed into the porcelain throne. “Look!” I looked into the toilet where a Halloween candy sized “Baby Ruth” was floating. I looked at him beaming, and instantly I understood two things. I was supposed to congratulate him in the hopes that this small victory would propel him toward diaper independence. And I would not invite a repeat performance from him or any other little boy (or girl) for the rest of my life. What’s funny in a film is decidedly less funny off-screen.
Yes, parents, I know that you’re rolling your eyes. Fair enough. Juvenile. But honest. And stop rolling your eyes, they might get stuck that way!
Come See My Poop!
So the recent [almost] repeat performance struck a familiar chord. Again I’ll keep the eager crapper’s name and relationship under wraps. It’s only fair. Besides, he’s a cool kid that I enjoy, and his parents are our good friends. Wouldn’t want any hurt feelings, especially since my gripe is with poop inspections and not this specific pooper or poop inspector. Do you follow?
After the youngster’s timely announcement (just prior to dinner), his mother dutifully trotted off to inspect. Cheers (and hugs, or so I imagine since I stayed in the living room and witnessed only the audible congratulations) followed. The turd must have been solid gold. Maybe it’s time to remix the The Golden Goose?
So I get it. Super pooper celebrations fast-track diaper independence. I’m a teacher; this is familiar pedagogical territory. Except that my lessons steer clear of toilets. Childfree bias, I guess. That said, I don’t want to wrap this rant without a heartfelt “Thank you!” to all the parents who celebrate their tikes’ turds. Golden or otherwise. Especially when it works. Because I’m not equipped to deal with a world full of crappy britches, and poop inspections and celebrations are best left to Bill Murray.
Hopefully this explains everything:
Also this: (Who kills succulents??? Me.)
In 2002, I had a cactus for almost a month! Eleven years later I decided to try again with little success.
In 1998, I got a puppy! In 1999, I gave it to my folks.Good news: fourteen years later they are not so eager for grandkids!
Phew! It’s good to be childfree! Also, it’s probably for the best that I don’t have any living things to look after.
- Friday Funny! Our TIME Magazine response (just kidding) (whynokids.com)
The TIME magazine article, “The Childfree Life: When having it all means not having children,” has sparked an electric storm of media attention. It’s a shame the writers at WNK are too busy enjoying a childfree summer on the lake to respond. We kid! No…wait! We DON’T kid! We have a lot to say but we are busy boating AND reading all the articles about the TIME hoopla. We promise to comment soon! For now we offer you a “Friday Funny” and hope that you all remember to laugh a little more today since everyday is Friday when you are childfree!
For some reason we find this cartoon hilarious.
Do you agree? Funny or not here we come!
If you have a “Friday Funny” for WNK please share!
- The pros and cons of a childfree life (kvue.com)
- Singles in the News: A childfree roundup, black love in a time of poverty, Google me! and visual reinforcement for staying single (partyofones.com)
- Time magazine catches on to the childfree movement, misses the green angle (grist.org)
- No kid-ding: Your view of the childfree life? (boston.com)
Before there was valium or prozac, there were always dubious quack remedies to help women medicate their sometimes grim realities. (The Bilerico Project)
Vintage advertising is always good for a chuckle, but Dr. Miles' Nervine struck me as especially perfect for anxious parents. Effervescent tablets too! So you can hear and feel the mellowing magic working.
Anyone know what the stuff actually was? Brandy? Laudanum? Both probably.
I'm midstream a two week visit from two of my favorite little beings in the world. The closest I'll ever get to witnessing my own (or much of my own) DNA in youngsters. It's exciting. Exhilarating. Exhausting. And sometimes scary as hell!
I have a few observations percolating that I'll try to unravel diplomatically in the weeks ahead, but for now just a couple of quick asides.
- Kids — especially 5 to 10-year-old kids — are wildly unpredictable marvels.
- Even when they don't eat and sleep, kids are veritable nuclear power plants.
- It feels really good to have little kids think you're cool and want to spend time with you even more than playing video games, watching TV, surfing on iPads…
- Kids are staggeringly stubborn and smart and naïve.
- Parents invent, nurture and enable some of the most frustrating children's behavior.
- I'm 100% confident that my childfree choice is right for me, right for my bride, and very, very, very right for our unborn children!
- Kids find it really gross when adults “kiss on the lips”, especially when “they look like they mean it”. Which, of course, makes it all the more enticing.
One more week of laboratory research to go, and then I'll fill you in on my hypotheses. Stay tuned. Until then, steady nerves!