June 19, 2018

G.G. Davis, Jr. (aka virtualDavis)

Top Twelve 2012 Posts

It’s new year’s resolution and year-in-review time, so I’m looking backward in order to look forward.

Despite the unlucky thirteen twaddle, I’m bullish on the incoming year. Much good is pent up and ready to burst out of the starting gate. Trust me.

And, despite rumors to the contrary, 2012 was a pretty jolly romp too. Is it possible that life’s just a twitch better when bathed in childfree limelight? I suspect the answer is yes. Yes!

And yet in the coming year I do firmly resolve to direct my mixed blessings upon several slightly more child-centric themes such as watersports, chocolate and uncle-dom. It’s high time I divulge my #1 reason for childfreedom and examine it methodically vis-à-vis AAA (aquatic adrenaline adventures), dark vs. milk cacao derivatives (It really does matter if you’re black or white!) and the merits of nieces and nephews. Hold onto your contraceptives, WNKers, I detect the first tremors of a maturity avalanche… And gravity always wins!

But before it does, let’s take a revealing glance in the rear view mirror. 2012 was a big year for Why No Kids? Why? Well, we suspect it has very little to do with our journalistic prowess and plenty to do with the childfree zeitgeist which is washing the globe free of preconceived baby bias just in time. The bottom line is the childfree space is buzzing. No. It’s exploding. No longer niche, childfree dialogue is mainstream. It’s — dare I say it? — almost hip.

Top Twelve 2012 on Why No Kids?

Anyway, enough prologue, and on with the top 2012 posts on Why No Kids:

  1. 10 More Reasons to Not Have a Baby
  2. Motherhood: Decision, Not Destiny
  3. Why no kids? Childfree celebrities!
  4. Childfreedom: More Happiness
  5. How much $ can I save by not having babies?
  6. Happy Non-Parents Day!
  7. Why Are You Childfree?
  8. Is Having Kids Selfish?
  9. Childfree Women Lack Humanity
  10. Photo Essay: Childfree Celebrities
  11. Childfree Families
  12. Nulliparity Health Risks

I remain a bit perplexed by the perennially popular childfree celebrity fascination, but I’m thrilled with interest in parenting as choice not default, the relationship between childfreedom and happiness and childfree finances. And the ongoing popularity of Miriam Schaer’s controversial exhibition has inspired us to take another look. What’s the artist up to in 2013? Stay tuned.

What’s on your top twelve childfree list?

Why No Kids? Elf on the Shelf!

Elf on the Shelf T-Shirt (Credit: Sweeneyville)

Elf on the Shelf T-Shirt (Credit: Sweeneyville)

If you’re a parent in the US, you’re likely already acquainted with The Elf on the Shelf. If you’re childfree (or childless) you might have missed out on this latest holiday marketing bonanza with eerily Orwellian overtones. Consider the following…

The Elf on the Shelf… is the very special tool that helps Santa know who to put on the Naughty and Nice list… Santa sends his scout elves out to Elf Adoption Centers. Waiting for their families to bring them home, these patient elves hibernate until their family reads The Elf on the Shelf, gives their elf a very special name, and registers their adoption online. Once named, each scout elf will receive its Christmas magic… these scout elves are the eyes and ears of Santa Claus… the elf will always listen and relay messages back to Santa. Taking in all the day-to-day activities around the house… these scout elves take their job seriously… after the family goes to bed, the scout elf uses his magical Christmas powers to fly back to the North Pole. Once there, the elf will make his or her daily report to Santa… Before the family awakes each morning, their special scout elf will fly back… to hide in the freezer… the fireplace mantle or hang from the chandelier… (Elf on the Shelf > About Us)

Spooky, right?

On the one hand, I tip my hat to Carol Aebersold, Chanda Bell and Christa Pitts who’s charm, vision, hustle and business savvy is inspiring. Bravo for transforming the publishing industry’s risk averse, survival-oriented error into an entrepreneurial success story!

The the elf story? I find it a little creepy.

Okay, when Aebersold recounts the back story, a family tradition which helps her defeat an almost paralyzing psychological defeat, I’m rooting for her. When mother and daughters team up to revitalize the magic of Christmas, I’m rooting for all three of them. And when they decide to self-publish The Elf on the Shelf because traditional publishers couldn’t quite grok the market value of a catchy product tied to the sellingest holiday of the year? I’m cheering for Aebersold, Bell and Pitts.

Elf on the Shelf Ambushed (Credit: livinglocurto.com)

Elf on the Shelf Ambushed (Credit: livinglocurto.com)

But then there’s a snag. Buy a spy? Infuse Christmas anticipation with selfconsciousness and anxiety posed by a sneaky, lurking voyeur? There’s something threatening and decidedly un-jolly about a tattletale with super powers sneaking around young children’s homes. A miniature Big Brother. Frankly this “tradition” feels a bit un-Christmas-like to me. But then again, I’m not a parent. I don’t need to threaten and bribe my tribe to behave or else…

And then there’s the potential for distorting this latter day Christmas tradition. Consider Stephen King tackling this Elf on the Shelf theme. Or Alfred Hitchcock. All sorts of terrifying Peeping Tom elf scenarios come to mind. Even the whole adoption center prologue creeps me out. Not only do elves have super powers once they are adopted, but until then they hibernate?!?! Like bears, I suppose, or rattlesnakes or laptop computers. Weird.

It turns out I’m not alone.

I hate the Elf on the Shelf. I hate his evil, dead-eyed sidelong smile. I hate that he invades innocent children’s homes without compunction. I even hate his full name. “The Elf on the Shelf: A Christmas Tradition.” I hate how it sounds like it’s a threat, like, “I’m not just the Elf: I’m the Elf who will return every goddamn Christmas of your life…” I hate how he seems to become more powerful with each passing year. (Salon.com)

That’s Mary Elizabeth Williams (@embeedub), the author of Gimme Shelter and dauntless chronicler of her cancer crusade. Her article, “Santa’s evil Orwellian spy” nimbly sums up the equation.

Today, the Elf is a best-selling, full-blown industry. He floated triumphantly this year at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, and he’s been all up in our faces ever since. And why not? He’s eminently marketable. Like American Girl dolls, or Cabbage Patch Kids in days of yore, part of the Elf’s allure is his customizable nature. There are girl elves and boy elves, blue-eyed elves and dark-skinned elves, all waiting to be “adopted.” Right, like I’m going to adopt a narc. (Salon.com)

Elf on the Shelf: The gift of giving... (Credit: articlesofabsurdity.com)

Elf on the Shelf: The gift of giving… (Credit: articlesofabsurdity.com)

Thank you, Ms. Williams. Christmas is supposed to be innocent and slightly goofy. Giggles and jelly bellies and flying reindeer. Christmas is about hope and forgiving and generosity and loving. Christmas is about family and intimacy. Not spying and tattling. Do we really need to infiltrate the last bastion of whimsical childhood naivety with this malicious, eavesdropping drone? Again, I defer to Ms. Williams:

Part of why I dislike the Elf is the same reason I dislike Facebook’s privacy settings — he’s an Orwellian nightmare. Let’s teach our children that privacy is meaningless! I may have grown up with a Santa who sees you when you’re sleeping and knows when you’re awake, but my Santa was never lurking around in my house, keeping tabs on me for weeks at a time. I don’t know, I just find the whole concept of an advent-long period of intense scrutiny by some judgmental little voyeur in a pointy hat creepy. (Salon.com)

If you’ve concluded that Williams and I are cynical, anti-Christmas Grinches (when it comes to Elf on the Shelf, though little else,) we’re in good company:

If you are unaware of the tradition of Elf on the Shelf, it is where parents get a creepy looking little elf doll and put him all over their house to act as their children’s parole officer. The Elf then flies to the North Pole each night to report to the big guy himself on whether the kids’ behavior is good enough to land them on the “nice” list. It is a genius idea for behavior modification through gratuitous lying. (Sweeneyville)

The elf creeps me out. I said it. I said what you might have been thinking. His smug grin and vintage eyes creep me out. He’s playing tricks and sneaking around our house. CREEPY. (whitehouseblackshutters.com)

Holy crap, y’all. It was working! I had accidentally implemented a moralistic police state in my own home… That got me thinking about the other 11 months of the year…. After much consideration I’ve decided to introduce another Big Brother-type helper to our family. (Rants from Mommyland)

Would it shock you to discover that our home is not and will not ever be a haven for this little Santa snitch? … It made me uncomfortable to wield the Santa weapon over my children’s head…. It makes already anxious children even more paranoid around this time of year… And this physical representation is placed in their home! It is there to scare them into submission every day from Thanksgiving until Christmas time. It invades the child’s one safe place where nothing will harm them, the place where they are encouraged (rightly so) by their parents to feel protected from all the ‘bad’ and ‘evil’ things out in the world, the place where they are loved unconditionally for who they are and not by what they can or cannot do nor for what they do or do not do. How can this sanctuary remain so when there is something sitting there on the shelf or mantel staring at them and judging each behavior every minute of each day from November 25th until December 25th? (Lunar Wisdom)

Enough. You get the point. Why no kids? Elf on the Shelf!

2012 Childfree Data Dump

The Ultimate Christmas Present

Ultimate Christmas Present (Wikipedia)

So it’s almost Christmas and you’re sending your third post card (easier for elves to eavesdrop) to Santa asking for a sexy digital tablet. An iPad, Kindle, Nook, Nexus,… anything!

“I just want to read Why No Kids? from the comfort of my sofa! Is that so wrong?”

No. It’s not wrong. It’s your childfree right. And it’s very, very good.

In anticipation of your glossy new, backlit ereading device we’ve compiled a WNK digest to turbocharge your first day on the sofa. Er, ahem, your first day on the sofa reading Why No Kids? on your sexy new tablet.

Actually… that’s not 100% true. The reality is, 2012 is winding up and we’ve got almost four dozen post “stubs” that we haven’t managed to finish and publish. And we don’t want them to drag into 2013 without you’re getting a chance to plunge into the wild and wooly world of WNK wonkery. Really. So, we’ve decided to wrap up some of the best almost-published posts in shiny holiday wrapping paper and frilly Technicolor ribbon for you to enjoy. Before they get stale.

Don’t worry, it’s not four dozen. Or even one dozen. But ten. Ten you’ll-thank-us-afterward childfree gems for you to savor on your new toy. I mean, your new tool. Enjoy!

Childfree Aggression

There are two types of childfree people; those who like children but are happy without their own, and those aggressive ones who down right hate children and wish they would disappear from the face of the planet – or would at least be locked up with their breeder parents into a kennel somewhere out of sight until they turn 18, or preferably 25. The later mentioned are to the childfree what “breeders” are to parents – the ones that give all of us a bad rep.

What troubles me the most about aggressive childfree people is that they often demand respect for their choice to not “breed”, but offer no respect to the parents choice to have children. ~ Sebastyne (insightfulpath.net

Laura Carroll on Childfree Myths

The Childless Revolution, by Madeline Cain

Childless Revolution

Laura Carroll, an early and inspiring friend of Why No Kids? is the author of Families of Two. Watch this video excerpt of Laura Carroll on The Early Show exposing myths about childless couples. “When asked about making a childfree choice, Laura recommends seeking mutual understanding, being open and truthful with family and friends as well as being selective about who you tell…” (YouTube)

42% of American Women are Childless

A blast of Pure Oxygen with Madeline Cain, author of The Childless Revolution, reveals that nearly half of the women in the United States do not have children. This interview includes two early middle age adults who’re childfree by choice. Discover why… (YouTube)

No Kids Allowed: Childfree Movie Theaters

When I went to see Spider-man… A young couple had a child of about 3 who yelled, cried, and squirmed throughout a good portion of the movie… The parents tuned out the child and blissfully watched their movie… When Jake and I were at the Avengers, there was a couple a few rows up who had about 5 children under the age of 7. Up and down the aisles they ran, while the youngest cried and fussed. The parents took nary a notice… Parents, you have to understand, whatever disturbance your children were to you during the movie, it was 10X worse for everyone around you. (Hackman’s Musings)

Bill Maher on Children and Childfreedom

This pair of Bill Maher videos uploaded to YouTube by somebody less worried about copyright than about spreading the childfree gospel is entertaining if occasionally chaotic: Politically Incorrect, Childfree People and Children, Part 1 and Politically Incorrect, Childfree People and Children, Part 2.

Malaysia Airlines Childfree Change

No children under the age of 12, including infants, will be permitted in the airline’s 70-seat coach-class zone, which will be located on the upper deck of the airline’s new Airbus A380s… The posh airline will only allow children in the 300-seat main lower deck… Malaysia is the first airline to ban children from any economy class section. Last year, Malaysia Airlines banned infants from first class sections of all of its long-distance flights. (budgettravel.com)

3 and 6 Year Olds Crash Car

A large hole is in a wall of a Fairborn [Ohio] apartment building after a young child drove a truck into it Saturday morning… Fairborn police said a 3-year-old and 6-year-old were operating the truck when it smashed through the building’s wall… The two boys took the keys to the truck while their parents were asleep in the family’s apartment, Fairborn police said. The boys hit a pole with truck before crashing through the wall… (whiotv.com)

Do Parents Matter?

In his new book, Selfish Reasons to Have More Kids: Why Being a Great Parent Is Less Work and More Fun Than You Think, Caplan tackles the conventional wisdom about parenting. In a world of Tiger Moms and helicopter parents who monitor and agonize over every minor activity in which their children engage, the father of three says that parents actually have minimal influence over long-term outcomes for their children… (Reason.tv.)

No Kidding!

No Kidding! International is an international non-profit social club created for singles and couples who have never had children… There are numerous chapters in Canada, the United States and several other countries… The stated purpose of No Kidding! is to give childless and childfree adults a place to talk about interesting topics without being alienated by peers who consistently talk about their kids, and the opportunity to make new childfree friends. (Wikipedia)

Childless Women: From Pitied to Empowered

Off to Ireland for our final childfree gem, this time to explore the increasingly open dialogue about and among childfree women with — among other unencumbered women — unmarried and childless Cameron Diaz. After you’ve read “What to expect when you’re childless” let us know what what you think about the present and future of childless women. (Herald.ie)

Two Children or Three?

Small and romantic road

Romantic Umbria (Credit: adamo1978)

Time for a timeless flashback… Topic? Children versus adventure. Children versus carefree, fiesta marriage lifestyle. Children versus spontaneous travel. Remember this riff?

In The Juggle,  WSJ.com blog about “choices and tradeoffs people make as they juggle work and family” John J. Edwards III waxed nostalgic for the early days of marriage before he had children.

Like many married-with-kids jugglers, my wife and I look back fondly on our pre-children days… we had many fun times and adventures, from frequent parties in our apartment to a surprise long weekend in Paris. (WSJ.com)

He ruminates on the lifestyle freedom enjoyed by couples who opt not to embrace parenting but concedes that

it’s a cohort that often finds itself misunderstood or even ostracized as friends procreate. (WSJ.com)

He refers to a story posted at DINKlife.com by a woman who has endured countless painful experiences due to her childfree choice.

“but the statement we feel best sums it all up was when a very close couple told us that they did not see us in their lives anymore as we were making the ‘unnatural choice.’ ” (WSJ.com)

The author wraps up with a palpable yearning for the days when he and his bride could zip off to Umbria, Italy like his childfree colleagues at work, but is quick to admit that his suburban social bubble is kid central with nary a childfree couple in the mix.

In fact, the big question generally is “two children or three?” rather than whether or not to have kids. (WSJ.com)

Childfree Christmas

English: Christmas-themed check mark

Childfree Christmas? Check… (Credit: Wikipedia)

While Christmas is arguably the most family-centric holiday of the year, it poses discomfiting challenges to those of us Aurora Bordeaux (author of the perennially engaging childfree blog, Baby Off Board) dubs “Childfree martians”.

Being surrounded on all sides by kids kids kids makes you a little raw by the end of the day. Kids don’t bother me most of the time unless they’re being loud, but what nags me is… [that] I begin to feel like a Martian…

This is something I go through every year, but this year is different… I’m more adept at dodging or ignoring questions about the status of my aging uterus. I am more comfortable with who I am, plus I have this widely read blog to sound off on. I may be temporarily out of my element, but the minutes tick by a lot faster when I consider that tomorrow I’ll publish this and at various points across the globe, other people who I’ve never met may identify with my Martian status.

So, fellow childfree Martians… You’re not my family, but that doesn’t mean you don’t mean a lot. I’m glad you’re there, wherever there is, because when I’m in the midst of the in-laws, deep down I can remind myself that I’m not the only one of my kind. (Family Vacation, Part I: I am Martian)

Bravo, Bordeaux! You nailed it. Christmas remains one of the most un-childfree times of the year. Or maybe the most childfree misunderstood times of the year. I suspect that much of it hinges upon the conventional understanding of what constitutes a family.

Is a childfree couple a family? Hell, yes! (Sorry for the profane affirmation, folks, but the sacred is always sexier when coupled with the profane, no?) Childfree families are no less families than divorced families or deceased grandparent families or gluten free families or homeless families…

And yet my bride and I are frequently told, “Well, you don’t have a family, so…” Read: no kids equals no family, and no family equals no real Christmas. After all, Christmas is all about the children, right? Perhaps. At least for parents who sign a pledge the day they reproduce that they will henceforth live through their progeny; they will henceforth sublimate their whimsical, carefree desires while bending over backwards to provide same for said offspring; and they will henceforth swear that they’ve known no greater reward than sacrificing for their mini-me’s (usually expressed after a lengthy vent about their baby “buyer’s remorse”.)

Childfree Christmas Secret

So, yes, perhaps real Christmas is for children. But the really cool secret of childfree families is that we’re still kids. No, not all the time. We’re card carrying members of the adult club — in fact, we’re afforded a boatload of VIP only perks denied to parents — but we’re also lifetime members of the kiddy club. Which means, Santa Claus and the Easter bunny (and sometimes even the Tooth Fairy) still believes in us and vice versa. And trust me, this is good. This makes for much anticipation leading up to Christmas and one heck of a romantic Christmas morning. Unfortunately, parents, we childfree families also sign a pledge that includes the clause:

We do solemnly swear to keep mum about the emotional, erotic and mysterious indulgences of childfree Christmas eve and morning.

Sorry. We don’t want to upset the social balance. After all, we depend on parents to keep the species around, the economy up and the childfree lines short. We depend on parents to soak up the stress and cynicism so that we have room to dream and fulfill our dreams. I know. Selfish. We hear that a lot. Yes, at Christmas too. While we do have a few opinions about who’s being selfish in the grander scheme of things, Christmas isn’t the best time to sound off. Parents are fragile right now. We get it. We’re sympathetic. We’re grateful.

Childfree Christmas Wishes

English: Santa Claus with a little girl Espera...

“Pretend” Santa Claus Photos (Credit: Wikipedia)

So we’re giving you a free pass now, but there are a couple of matters we’d like you to consider while we’re celebrating Christmas among childfree families. Cut us some slack in the “You’re not a family” department. At least until after New Year’s. Scratch that. Until January 2nd, because childfree families really like to party on December 31! Check out Laura Carroll’s “The Art of Childfree-Parent Conversation at Holiday Parties” for some pointers.

We’re coming into holiday party time, and as the childfree know, at these kinds of gatherings often people’s kids are a major topic of conversation… Parents often talk a lot about their kids because it is secure social conversational terrain for them. (La Vie Childfree)

We’ll talk junior news for a bit, but let’s find some common ground after you’ve covered the basics. It’s one thing if we dive in, ask questions, encourage you to wax on about Jillian’s poopy progress or Preston’s playground prowess. But if we don’t, if our heads begin to bob and our eyes glaze over, try something else. What are you reading? Seen any interesting art lately? What about concerts, opera, foreign lands, exotic restaurants? You get the picture. Almost anything!

And a closing thought, again culled from the bodacious Bordeaux.

The Santa experience doesn’t seem to be as much about the child now as it is about the photograph… Many parents seem obsessed with creating a magical photo that outshines the season, one that’s concrete proof that their precious little one experienced the whimsy and grandeur of the holiday rather than waited in line for hours with a bunch of other crying kids with H1N1 who don’t understand what the hell is going on. (Baby Off Board)

Childfree families really, really don’t get this ritual. We’re not judging, but it’s totally antithetical to the way we live. As outsiders, parenting sometimes seems to include a lot of “pretend” moments immortalized in photos and anecdotes. Pretend we love being parents and don’t ever regret it. Ever. Pretend that photo of a catalog-perfect family wasn’t taken after a 15 minute tantrum, a slew of bribes and a gangplank of threats. Pretend it was worth wasting a sunny afternoon that you could have spent skiing or quaffing vin chaud to get that darling snapshot of Jillian and Preston on a red nosed Santa’s lap.

Again, we’re not judging. But a quick glimpse is plenty. Even no glimpse if you’d rather share with another parent better attuned to pretend pictures.

A very merry, holly jolly childfree Christmas to you!

Childfreedom: I Hate Being a Mom

67 of 365 ~ Mum

Childfreedom: I hate being a mom (Credit: tanya_little)

Just to be clear, I don’t hate being a mom. In fact, I’m not a mom at all.

So what’s with the title, “Childfreedom: I Have Being a Mom”? Good question. I’ll try to explain.

Some people Google their name. Others scour Twitter for self referential tweets. Google gargle, chirp-chirp…

While it may seem just about as peculiar, Team WNK Googles (and Twitter searches) for childfree topics. For fun. In our spare time. While waiting in line at the grocery story. Or riding the elevator and trying not to stare at the gargantuan pregnant lady huffing and puffing beside us.

Yes, it’s a little obsessive, but we’re fascinated. The more we think and read and talk and blog about childfreedom, the more curious we become. And it turns out we’re not alone. The media and the social web are every day more obsessed with the parenting vs. childfreedom debate(s). It’s become a “thing”!

Google Noodling Childfreedom

So the other day I was searching Google on a whim, “noodling” as some say. My search term? Childfreedom.

There’s something undeniably slogan-y about the slang term “childfreedom”, but I love it.

I picture it emblazoned across the bikin’ed buttocks of a fetching middle aged lady striding down an exotic beach. Perhaps my bride? Or embroidered into an elegant bodice. Definitely my bride. (I wonder if I can dig one of those up for Christmas…)

Linguists recoil at words like childfreedom, a derivative of a derivative. Diluted. Meaningless. Except that it’s not. Childfreedom is the conjunction of childfree (a slang conjunction in its own right) and freedom. My eyes pour over the newest results for “childfreedom” and I follow a few links, read, take notes, click back to Google.

At the bottom of the page I freeze.

I Hate Being a Mom

What? At the bottom of Google search result pages — and just above where you can click to go to the next page of search results — Google provides a list of related searches. In this case it reads, “Searches related to childfreedom” and it lists the following:

Most of these search queries make sense. I expected them. But the first one, the top recommendation from the smart, smart, smart robots over at Google was not what I expected. And yet here it is:

Google searches related to Childfreedom

Google searches related to Childfreedom

Of course, I was simultaneously appalled and fascinated. Google, in it’s infinite wisdom — deduced from millions of searches all around the globe all day, every day — associated “I hate being a mom” as the most likely related search term for somebody interested in the idea of childfreedom. Even before the rather obvious “Childfree by choice”!

I can’t help but imagine the desperate keystrokes of a frantic mother.

Bye-bye, bikini.

Bye-bye, bodice.

Needless to say, I clicked and discovered that Google indexes about 70,200,000 web pages for the search term “I hate being a mom”. Yes, over 70 million!

Why no kids? Enough said.

Why No Kids? Golden Eagles!

Sometimes my clever riffs on absolutely-positively-definitively why no kids demand detailed explanation. Diagrams. Graphs. Sometimes even interviews and strategically constructed arguments are necessary to spell out the childfree merits of the decision that my bride and I made and continue to make. But today, my why no kids explanation demands neither diagrams or graphs. Not even interviews.

Why No Kids? Watch the Video!

English: Golden eagle

Why no kids? Golden eagles! (Wikipedia)

I’ll mash up a pair of brief quotations to spell out the video action for those who need a little hand holding:

A video from Montreal shows a giant Golden Eagle swooping down and snatching a small child… [at] Mount Royal in Montreal. The cameraman has the video tracking a giant Golden Eagle as it glides through the air, but then the bird marks a sharp turn and descends downward toward a child sitting on the ground… the Golden Eagle snatches the child, who appears to be two or three years old, eliciting a curse from the cameraman who goes running to help. (The Inquisitr)

Fortunately, the eagle was not able to pull off the greatest aviary caper in world history, probably because small humans weigh many more pounds than big rodents. (Gawker)

Why No Kids? Golden Eagles!

The equation is simple. And definitive. Why no kids? Golden eagles!

Why No Kids? Urinal Deodorizers!

A little less than a week ago I was in Santa Fe, New Mexico on a mini-vacation. My bride and I flew out on Saturday night and came back Wednesday.

A whirlwind of southwest goodness. We visited good friends. We played. We ate. We drank. We hiked. We biked. We art-ed and shopped and strolled…

It was good.

Mostly. One event in particular was not good. Not good at all!

Southwestern Cuisine and Urinal Deodorizers

We were staying with dear friends with dear twin boys. And one night we went out to dinner at Maria’s, an old time Santa Fe family dining favorite. The twins father was out of town on a business trip, so I got to play surrogate daddy when it came time for a mid-meal bathroom break. One forty year old man and two four year old boys. No problem. We traipsed through the restaurant hand-in-hand. All smooth so far. As we approached the bathroom door the younger of the two started to pull away, but my grip tightened and he looked up at me, resigned. Inside both boys affirmed in unison that they wanted to use the urinal.

Did I mention that they were four years old? This was an adult height urinal, but the first twin managed to liberate his junk from his pants and aimed at the urinal. I slid into the other urinal and took care of my own business. When I wrapped up and leaned over to check on the other twin. He had the urinal deodorizer in his hands! That’s right, he was holding the pink hockey puck encased in a white mesh plastic target and inspecting it. Sniffing it actually.

I barked his name with a mix of authority and panic. His head snapped up to look at me. He was wearing an ear to ear grin. His pants and underwear were around his ankles. The urinal was full from both twins dewatering and heaven only knows how many other diners’ contributions since last flush. He dropped the target back into the urinal and reached toward me. I leaped backward, knocking into an older gentleman who’d just entered the bathroom.

“Glad mine are all grown up,” he laughed, handing the other twin some paper towel to dry his hands. The boy had had managed to climb up onto the counter to wash his hands and was straddling the sink, shaking his hands dry.

“Thanks,” I said, helping the hand washer down to the floor. “Pull up your pants,” I told the deodorizer holder.

“I can’t,” he whined, showing me his dripping hands and walking toward me.

“Don’t touch me!” I carefully grasped his hips from behind and lifted him up onto the counter. He soaped up and splashed around until I felt reasonably confident that he wouldn’t get ill before dessert. But I wasn’t confident enough to hold his hand as we walked back to the table, and he shot off like a wind up toy, zipping through the restaurant and nearly sweeping the feet out from under a waitress balancing two sizzling skillets loaded with fajitas. He dove under the table just before I made it into the dining room where we were seated. My bride and the the twins’ mother were enjoying their meals. Not the time for a bathroom update…

Why no kids? Urinal deodorizers!

Motherhood: Decision, Not Destiny

Motherhood: Echoes of RNC 2012

Motherhood: Echoes of RNC 2012

American culture… assumes that all women want to become mothers. And the best kind of woman — the best kind of mother — is portrayed as one who puts her maternal role above everything else. (The Washington Post)

Did you get that, childfree women? You’re dropping the ball. Tarnishing the ideal. Betraying your gender.

Jessica Valenti‘s (@JessicaValenti) hard-hitting but sage op-ed, “Are all women born to be mothers?“, takes a deserved swipe at the regressive (and increasingly deafening) womanhood-equals-motherhood rhetoric attempting to drown out a century’s progress in gender equality.

Republicans’ efforts to woo women [which] have become fever-pitch pandering as the party tries to undo damage from comments such as Rep. Todd Akin’s remark that a ‘legitimate’ rape victim can’t get pregnant and Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett’s advice to women who object to invasive ultrasounds before an abortion: ‘You just have to close your eyes.'” (The Washington Post)

The founder of Feministing.com, Valenti’s article was adapted from her new book, Why Have Kids?, which delves into the relationship between motherhood and happiness and is described as “a book for parents who can handle the truth.” If this op-ed is any indication, Valenti doesn’t shy from the gritty and grimy. I’m adding it to my WNK reading list. Expect a review sooner (if it’s great) or later (if it’s not so great!) In the meantime, here’s a glimpse at what she explores in the book.

Valenti drops up a couple of disturbing retro-feminist motherhood bombs before offering a glimmer of hope:

In 2006, the term “pre-pregnant” was coined in a Washington Post story about a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommending that all women of childbearing age care for their pre-conception health… The CDC was asking women to behave as if they were already pregnant, even if they had no intention of conceiving in the near — or distant — future. For the first time, a U.S. government institution was explicitly saying what social norms had always hinted at: All women, regardless of whether they have or want children, are moms-in-waiting. (The Washington Post)

Rebecca Kukla, a professor of internal medicine and philosophy at Georgetown University and the author of Mass Hysteria: Medicine, Culture, and Mothers’ Bodies said at a recent seminar, “Do lesbians, women who are carefully contracepting and not interested in having children, 13-year-olds, women done having kids, really want their bodies seen as prenatal, understood solely in terms of reproductive function?” (The Washington Post)

And now for the glimmer of hope. Valenti cites a 2010 study from the Pew Research Center which found that the rate of childfree women in the United States had almost doubled during the previous three decades which amounts to approximately 20% of the female population. This is interesting and surprising, especially given how little media attention has been brought to bear on the growing rate of women opting not to reproduce.

Valenti’s op-ed concludes with Laura Scott, author of Two Is Enough who believes that motherhood/parenthood is no longer the assumption for many couples.

Laura Scott, the author of Two Is Enough: A Couple’s Guide to Living Childless by Choice, says the No. 1 reason women give for not wanting children is that they don’t want their lives to change… The other reasons they gave: loving the relationship they were in “as it is,” valuing their “freedom and independence,” not wanting to take on “the responsibility of raising a child,” a desire to focus “on my own interests, needs or goals,” and wanting to accomplish “things in life that would be difficult to do if I was a parent.” (The Washington Post)

As we brace for a national election cycle increasingly drawn to divisive wedge issues we can expect to witness more placating and more pandering, but I hope that we won’t get sucked into a time machine where women are represented primarily as walking, talking reproductive organs. I hope that 20% of the US female population who’ve opted to remain childfree will feel proud and confident as they re-frame “family values” in a less Neanderthal context. And I hope that childfree men will stand up and own our half of the childfree movement. This is not about feminism, gents; it’s about humanism. Time to stand by your woman!

[Hat tip to The Washington Post for providing the source images for the much distorted and contorted collage at the beginning of this post.]

Bored Child Nightmare

“A bored kid at home might be dangerous…” (Childfree Commercial)

Aside from the generally crumby quality of this video (Let me guess, recorded on smart phone from a hazy old school television?) the imagery is disturbingly hilarious.

Wait. Did I just say that?

Please scratch that insensitive remark.

The commercial for a kid’s crafting book to occupy your bored child is amusing. In a decidedly sick way.

Better?

Part of what makes this video sticky is that you don’t really know whether the bored child is pulling a prank or trying to help. Favor? Or Oedipus Complex.

Bored

Bored Child (Photo credit: John-Morgan)

A bored child might be dangerous either way. In fact, that’s one small part of the concern with kidlets. Sometimes the line between prank, favor, and devious retaliation is blurry. And shifting. And unpredictable.

During a recent visit with my darling nieces, the four year old straight arm cold-cocked me in the family jewels. Bull’s eye! For a few minutes I stood on the pier sucking wind and seeing stars. When I got my act straight and bent down to ask her if it was an accident she smiled and shook her head from side to side slowly.

“You hit me on purpose?”

Still smiling, she nodded her head up and down.

“Do you have any idea how much that hurt?”

Side to side.

“Do you think it’s funny?”

Laugh. Up and down.

We sat. We talked. She apologized. And went back to building her sand castle.

I haven’t the slightest doubt that she considered the sucker punch to her uncle’s zipper zone a prank. I’m big. She’s teeny. I’m a man. She’s a girl. I like to roughhouse. She likes to roughhouse. We’re both pranksters, and we’ve frequently conspired on practical jokes. But her 4-year old filter for sifting appropriate from malevolent is limited. And sometimes it can’t keep up with her actions.

The video is goofy. And real. And sort of pitiful if you’re willing to purchase a kid’s craft book as a simple plug-and-play alternative to parenting a bored child. Lesson needed? No nut knocking, kid!

And then on to the next learning experience…