Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Kids

Christmas 2009

I've always disliked children. Even when I was one. Seriously. When I was eight years old my mother said I was already a cranky old man. I'd be inside reading and annoyed at the kids outside yelling and screaming. I'd get really ticked off when they'd track through the fresh snow on our lawn.

And when the characters on TV shows and movies were in peril and there were pleas to "spare the children" and talk of "children first," I always thought that was stupid. Adults should come first, I said. They're actually productive members of society and have a lot to live for. A kid has no perspective on life -- a five-year-old's not going to know what he's missing by having his life abruptly ended. Again, I was a kid when I thought all this.

To this day a chill runs down my spine when I enter a party and hear kids laughing inside. Or, of course, when I'm waiting to board a plane and looking around at all the little goldfish eaters and wondering which ones were inevitably going to be seated directly behind me. If I were on Inside the Actor's Studio and James Lipton asked me what sound do I hate it would definitely be a child's crying. And in restaurants when they try to seat me near a bunch of kids I ask for the no-mewling section.

But that's all in the abstract. I generally dislike all kids I don't know. Once I get to know them, though, we get along okay. At parties I end up being the one teaching then stupid-human tricks or playing goalie or pitcher for endless hours.

Those kids up there are a favorite part of my Christmas holiday. They belong to the friends I always visit on the 26th, which I've been doing for, I don't know, 10 or 12 years now? It's been really cool watching them grow up. I mean, a couple of them aren't really kids anymore. It's freaky. And I'm always kind of touched that they readily spend the day hanging out with us and seem to enjoy my company. I feel like I know them better than my own niece and nephews. (Which says a lot about our family.)

An ex-girlfriend of mine would constantly lament that she did not have the opportunity to have children. She didn't get along at all with her mother and felt that if she had a chance, she would raise her kids "right." On one hand I felt kind of sad for her, but on the other I admired her optimism. What made her think she'd be successful at it?

I mean, I've always been non-committal about kids. I guess I thought if it was important to the woman I was with, then okay, sure, but it wasn't that important to me. But I also believed that no matter what I might have learned from my parents about what not to do, I would very likely screw it up anyway.

If the apples don't fall far from the tree, then neither do the apple's seeds.

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