Last month I gave my nephew the present I was saving for my daughter. She won’t mind; she doesn’t exist. Not yet, nor probably ever.
Still, it was a tough decision. As long as I had the gift in my possession, being a parent felt possible.
I recognize that this is borderline crazy behavior: first of all, TWO non-existent children have active 529s. Secondly, I’ve been squirreling away books and toys for YEARS; our spare room basically exists so that someday a kid can live there, which is why I get annoyed when My Fella tries to store his junk in there despite the fact that we have an entire shed out back.
I recognize that, on a practical level, a kid is a STUPID thing to want: I’d lose my job (effectively) and (most likely) end up financially dependent on others; I’d end up doing ALL the housework; I’d be forced to sacrifice what little spare time I’ve got — time that, let’s face it, usually gets co-opted by other people who need me to do X, Y, and Z. And in the end, because my attention would be necessarily divided among several opposing forces, I’d probably lose My Fella as well — which also means no more house*, animals**, garden***, etc. Basically, I’d lose the semi-secure foundation I have painstakingly laid over the past decade-plus in exchange for precarious single-parenthood of a baby with whom I’d probably have to live in a box.
And then, of course, she’d grow up to resent me for not giving her a better life.
I recognize, too, the moral wrongness of wanting a daughter in particular, since being female is SUCH a liability in our society. Imagine if you said, “I hope my baby is born missing some organs!” People would say, “You’re horrible human being, to wish that on a kid.” And they’d be right; because missing even one non-essential organ — specifically a penis — condemns little girls to a lifetime of discrimination and ill-treatment, including possibly (probably?) sexual assault and murder. Essentially, my desire makes me the Bad Fairy at the Christening, cursing a baby with eventual womanhood.
Still, my preferences are irrational and probably based on personal experience: most of the women I know are amazing, talented, and inspiring individuals, whereas most of the men are…there. They’re perfectly nice and all, but I’m honestly not sure what they add to the sum experience of being human. Like, what are men for, precisely? I have spent decades trying to work this one out and all I’ve really come up with is that vibrators can’t kiss…yet.
Anyway, my nephew will enjoy his gift — an inexpensive but super-cool LEGO set — for about ten minutes, before losing interest in favor of one of his many other toys or his parents’ phones. His attention span is limited; his intellect hovers around average, no matter what extraordinary claims his doting parents make on his behalf. So ultimately the toy will get boxed up, a few pieces missing, and carted off to Goodwill. And that’ll be that.
Meanwhile, we’ll see neither nephews nor their playthings until the next gift-giving occasion, when we’re grudgingly summoned to pay court to the youngsters…and that’ll be a long time, because as far as company is concerned, we are strictly D-list.
I’m not sure why this is the case. I guess we’re not good enough or something? I don’t know what sort of criteria present-day parents have when it comes to the people who are permitted to interact with their children — my own parents weren’t particularly discriminating**** — but I gather My Fella and I do not meet them.
Which is a shame, because I’d always hoped that I’d get to play a bigger role in our nephews’ lives. For example, seeing them up close more than twice a year despite living in the same neighborhood. Getting to interact with them occasionally.
Both My Fella and I are ready, willing, and able to babysit (for free!), take them on fun outings (or even boring ones), and shower them with surprises and gifts.