Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Ponies, Generosity, and Brain Damage

The girls have started pre-school. Given that I'm never actually in town on weekdays I've never been, but I've heard it referred to as a 'hippie school' on multiple occasions. Based on the pictures I get it looks like Lord Of The Flies with watercolors. Just a lot of kids running around painting each other, forming tricycle gangs, and plotting to take over the world. By 11am everyone looks like an extra from a Mad Max movie and then they all sit down and have juice boxes. I'm not clear on if or how any of this is supposed to be educational. Nixie is confident she can count, but actually sounds like she's reciting an international phone number. 1-2- 6-3-6-2-4-1-1.... and on and on until she arbitrarily says ten and you clap.

The first day Amy dropped them off the girls cried. And cried. And then there was more crying. A teacher took each of them separately and showed them around the various stations (this is where you'll paint other children, this is where you'll prepare yourselves for battle, etc) and they continued to cry. And then they spotted each other across the playground and they ran to each other and they hugged and held on to each other. Sisters. Twins. And then there was no crying. There is no point to that story other than to melt your hard cold heart. If you are unmoved you have died and are only now becoming aware of it. My condolences. This is how it happens. The bright white light was a rumor.

The girls have also entered that phase where you have to kiss all of their injuries to make them better and because they go to a freeform warrior school there are a lot of injuries. The other day I was changing Nixie and she had a wicked painful diaper rash and she was sobbing and sobbing, and then she started to yell 'Kiss IT, Kiss IT!" For years I wouldn't share a soda with my wife for fear of germs, but when a crying little girl asks you to kiss her ass, you just do. That's the best way I can describe the special kind of brain damage that is fatherhood. It's probably also the only reason anyone buys a pony.

Despite the fact that they look alike and are often dressed alike, the girls are beginning to differentiate themselves. Somehow Ripley seems to have gotten all of Amy and I's (Amy and my? Amy and your? Were you involved? That's weird) stinginess. We're just not generous people. We've been known to use a ruler when splitting a cookie. Both our brothers are the opposite, and both of us took horrible advantage of this growing up. I remember pocketing my allowance and convincing mine to buy us both candy. Which he did with a smile. These are the genes Nixie received. If Ripley cries, Nixie gives her the rest of her milk. If Nixie cries Ripley comes and takes her milk. Nixie says 'for you'. Ripley says 'MINE!'. I would worry about it more if I didn't know that someday Ripley will crack. Someday someone will yell "Kiss it!" and she will without a second thought.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Should You Have Children

The other day someone wrote to ask if they should have children. I appreciated this. I wish more people would write to ask if they should do things. I like having a vote in things that don’t really concern me that I’m not qualified to talk about. It makes me feel like an elected official. Anyway, this is what I told them:

Having children is like deciding to move to a foreign country. Everything is strange and noisy, you don’t speak the language, there’re a million rules you don’t understand, and the minute you cross the border you realize you can never go back. Things are different than they were back home. You can’t get that thing you used to love or go to that place you always went. For a long time those differences will drive you crazy.

And then slowly you’ll look around your new country and see it for what it is, not for how it compares to where you moved from. You’ll start to see it has an awesomeness all its own. Some pointy mountains over here, a nice lake over there, and that bird looking thing down there, all of this will become appealing to you. It will never be like where you were, it will always be someplace new, but eventually it will feel like home and to your surprise you will find yourself writing to friends in the old country telling them to move here both because it is awesome and so you will feel less alone.

You will show them pictures of the mountains and lakes you’ve discovered and their eyes will glaze over and you will say, ‘but it’s such a CUTE mountain! And you should see it at bedtime!’. And they will likely smile at your little mountain and then go out drinking at some bar in the country you used to love with people you used to drink in bars with. And maybe you will wonder – do I really belong here? And you will look at the mountains and know they are yours and you will think OF COURSE I belong here. And then the mountains will vomit on you and you will want to go home. This will continue for twenty years.

In the end, moving is a huge decision, and there’s no right answer. You can live right where you are forever and always find something new and cool to see. And if you want to stay, stay – the world has plenty of mountains. But if some spirit of adventure or broken piece of contraception spurs you to move, my guess is you’ll eventually be quite happy in your new land. If nothing else, you’ll get to name everything after yourself.

Real Time Web Analytics