A funny thing happened this week in one of my classes. The kids were being silly and were asking me if they could call me all kinds of made up names. You know, silly nonsense names that just popped into their heads. One girl blurted out, “Can I call you ‘Dad’?”
After I laughed my face off, I said, “No. No one calls me Dad.” I’m still laughing about that one.
The kids had a hard time with that. They couldn’t understand how I could be married and not have a kid. I tried to explain that they don’t just hand you a kid when you get married.
My path toward parenthood is far from over, but before I take a break from talking about it on the blog, I’ve got a confession.
I really really don’t want to reproduce. That’s what I’m scared of.
Spanking, TV, Go-Gurt, and Everything Else
If I wanted to, we could talk forever about the minutiae of parenting. It boggles my mind how many decisions there are to make. I could talk endlessly about spanking or time-outs. I could fret over how much my kids will consume of TV, sugar, or “Go-gurt.” Which, while we’re on the subject, I have opened dozens of packages of Go-gurt while on lunch duty. What ever happened to yogurt coming in cups? And where are kids supposedly going while eating yogurt from a tube? I always tell kids to sit while eating. Plus, I think most kids assume “Go-gurt” is really a word. All around, a really dumb product.
Anyway, I could talk about that endlessly, but I won’t. Because the debates will never end. Someone’s way of parenting will always be different, and many of them are valid. Somewhere, a lot of parents see some advantage to teaching their children to eat dairy products from tubes, even though they lack the finger strength or motor coordination to open the packaging.
I want a kid…quite a lot. But what I don’t want to happen is to reproduce myself.
“Reproduction.” It sounds so natural, doesn’t it? But I think a lot of people take that to heart. They have children to validate their own existence, to fulfill them, to be a miniature carbon copy of themselves.
That’s what I think of “reproducing.” Making a little mini-me to run around and look up to me.
The thing is, I think I have a few things going for me. I have some positive traits. There’s some things I want to pass along to my kids. I’d prefer it if they agreed with my politics, but that’s unlikely. I desperately hope they follow my faith. But I have a heck of a lot about me that I don’t want to reproduce. My flaws, shortcomings, sins and faults, I don’t want to reproduce those in my kids. I don’t want to teach them to make the same mistakes I did (which kids will do just by following parents’ examples.) Inevitably, I will reproduce some good parts of myself, but there’s bound to be some bad stuff too.
Be An Individual (The Kind of Individual I Want You to Be)
In a lot of ways, parents don’t want to just reproduce. They want their kids to live better lives than they did. But I think that often translates to just money and success. We want our kids to have more money and stuff than we did. Big deal. And everything else, we think we pretty much nailed, so our kids should take up our torch forever.
Then, so many parents are disappointed when their little replicants defy their expectations, like a science fiction movie gone wrong. Anyone else hate Blade Runner? Man, I do. Anyway, I chuckle quietly at the punk or hippie liberal parents who say they want their kids to grow up to be “individuals” and to “choose their own path,” while they dress the kids exactly like themselves. I wonder if those parents change their tune when their kids grow up to work in corporate America and vote Republican.
What say you? Is parenting really about “reproducing?” What parts of yourself and you spouse do you hope your kids replicate? What do you hope they don’t?