Part I: Uncle
Carrying a bag the size of my leg filled with used baby diapers to the trash chute (on my cousin’s orders) I find myself again perplexed at the entire concept of human procreation. Why would anyone want to go through this? Babies are the worst.
“But what about when they get older and talk to you and have a personality?” My cousin’s friend asks me.
“Well then, then they aren’t babies now are they?”
I am couch surfing this weekend because my landlord is fixing the entranceway to my apartment, which was frankly beginning to resemble a level in Tomb Raider, and as such I have spent a day hopping from nephew to niece. Let’s be honest here, I love them both, and they are adorable… for exactly 20 minutes. I guess I fail to see the appeal. I find sloths adorable too that is why I watch nature shows, and occasionally go to a zoo, I do not however have any desire to live with said animal.
Unsurprising to those who know the personality of children, it is precisely this attitude, mixed with a healthy dose of humor and cynicism, that make them love me. Coming from a multi-cultural family, my sister-in-law recently asked me what I wanted my nephew to call me, “you can be ‘dada’ or ‘uncle’”.
“Can I be Uncle Tupac?”
My nephew, cannot as of yet pronounce Tupac, but I am satisfied with “Tu-pu” for now.
Part II: The Nanny
“So what do you do?” I ask, after previously having answered the same question to my date’s disappointment.
“I sit with kids.”
“A babysitter?” I reply.
“No,” she grumbles with noticeable agitation. “I am a Nanny, there is a huge difference.”
“I know, but you used the word sit to describe it so I thought it was ok.”
Things had not begun well and did not appear to be getting any better. She had ordered for both of us, a veggie plate to share, and a cocktail for herself.
“Old Overholt, Rocks.” I say, ignoring my date’s gesticulating to the cocktail page. Before smiling and asking her about her multiple “tribal” tattoos. I don’t have any tattoos, though I have over the years flirted with the idea of getting one. I don’t judge most tattoo choices, and firmly believe that your decisions are your own, but tribal tattoos are the equivalent of owning and wearing (unironically) a paisley tie. Except they are permanent. I cannot stress enough how stupid tribal tattoos are.
I of course stated none of this out loud, and politely said that I found the use of color interesting. My style of dating when it comes to people I have nothing in common with, mirrors childhood driving games:
“I spy with my little eye something that is black.”
“Is it my tattoo of a fake mustache on my finger?”
Why yes, yes that was in fact what I spied, in spite of my best efforts.
Then all of a sudden it happened, I should have seen it coming, clouds obscured the sun, and all of the animals were fleeing for cover, it was the perfect shit storm, and it all started with one question.
“You don’t like children, do you?”
“I don’t hate children, I just see no particular use for them until they reach a certain age.” I reply, before attempting to clarify (while in effect doing the exact opposite) “It’s like planting a tree, I don’t have any desire to plant a seed, but I would totally buy a tree that is about 3 feet tall and plant it… But who has the time to grow a tree, or child, from scratch?”
Puzzled bewilderment from my date is followed by some attempt to convince me that I would be missing out on the formative years. Which might be true, except babies don’t really make memories, and are basically a boring lump of awful until they are four years old.
I am not opposed to children mind you, and I love my niece and nephew, I just don’t particularly find them riveting at this age. Sure they have their moments, but they could easily be replaced by a kitty or a puppy, and I would find the entire experience more enjoyable.
I tell my date that many years ago I was a camp counselor, and rather enjoyed it because the kids were at least five years old, and entertaining.
“They had personalities, and beliefs, and were forming comprehensive thoughts, while still believing in the surreal, and magical. Those are the years I find truly interesting.”
“Yeah, the people I sit for are currently having issues with that,” she replies
“Issues with independent thought?” I ask.
“Well the parents are Atheist, and the children are super into Santa Claus, and by association Jesus, so they are having a problem convincing the children not to believe in those things,” she says.
I never understood this concept. I am an Atheist, but I was not brought up as such, I came to the conclusion on my own. When I was a kid, I believed in Santa (or rather Grandfather Frost, since we were Russian) and I was Jewish, and believed in a god, eventually I grow up and realized magic wasn’t real, but I am grateful that my childhood was filled with make believe.
“Why would you deny your children magic?” I ask
“What do you mean?”
“Well did they also tell them that Harry Potter isn’t real, that there are no such thing as fairies, and that unicorns do not exist?” I ask.
“It’s not the same.” She replies with a stern look.
“Isn’t it? Who cares if you believe in Dumbledore or Jesus, they are both bearded men that grant you wishes.”
“I don’t think you understand that detriment that religion has on the world,” she states intimating that I had never bothered to think through my position. That if only I had thought about it for a second I would realize how bad religion really is.
“I don’t think that a five year old believing in Santa is the same as sectarian violence in the Middle East,” I reply.
“I have to go because I have to meet up with a friend,” she says before adding, “but maybe you really shouldn’t have kids.”
Probably not, but for now I am content with being Uncle Tu-pu… and another Old Overholt.