As I get older, I find that I am less inclined toward the polite pretenses that pepper a life spent servicing and socializing: to laugh at unsuccessful jokes, to listen pleasantly to an extremely boring story, to bear patiently the muddled ramblings of an elderly family member, to pretend to be delighted by other people’s largely undelightful children. Sometimes I feel pretty awesome about this facet of my personality (I’m “real”! I’m grounded! I suffer no fools!) and sometimes I feel terrible about it (I’m ungracious! I’m a giant jerk! I will die alone!) . Mostly though, I have grown to accept that I am who I am and I CAN ONLY CHANGE MYSELF SO MUCH TO PLEASE YOU PEOPLE.
For the purposes of this blog, let us discuss children. A child is not a puppy. Children are not inherently delightful. Puppies are inherently delightful. No one can dispute this. By example, let me propose this choice: would I rather wake up to find a box of puppies at my doorstep, or (disregarding the horrifying implications) a box of toddlers? EXACTLY. While both creatures are illogical, gross and absurdly needy, puppies possess some ineffable X-Factor that keeps me from wanting to sit on them until they calm the hell down and stop asking for stuff. Children possess no such X-Factor. Do you think it is the fluffiness? I suspect it may be the fluffiness.
Amy, when your baby is born do you ever forsee a day when you will want to sit on her until she stops asking for stuff, or do you think that I should probably go to jail?
Puppies cannot be denied. This is the first thought I had when I read your letter. My friend Karen is in the process of buying a golden retriever puppy. Because I am judgmental, I do take issue with not RESCUING a puppy. However, about once a week, she sends me a picture of the litter her puppy is in, such as this one:
Or this one:
Even at my most judgmental, I cannot deny those puppies. In fact, all I can do is my best to quell an overwhelming urge to scream “EEeeeeee!” and then to jump into that top picture, and make the puppies lay all over me. They are older now, about eight weeks, and just about to be taken from their mother. That must be hard. Being pregnant with twelve babies, having a couple die, hanging out with the rest of them, and then watching them scatter to different homes, never to be heard from again.
I love toddlers, so I think I’d be as delighted by a box of them on my porch as I would a box of puppies, but I see your point. Certainly there will be days that I just want to tell my daughter to BE QUIET or SIT STILL or JUST STOP JUST STTTTTOOOOPPPPPP. I mean, at some point — not to be morbid, but IF ALL GOES WELL — I’ll be living with a teenage girl. I did that once. The girl was me, and she was A REAL PIECE OF WORK, and probably the worst roommate EVER. But my parents put up with me, because that’s what parents do.
That’s the difference between puppies and children. Children — let’s even say MOST children — have parents who love them and are biologically programmed to do so, and puppies have parents from whom they are stolen, and then they are sent to live with OTHER, human parents. Who, in fairness, might call them “fur babies” and love them as their own, just like human parents of children, or who might kick them and leave them tied up in the back yard. Just like some human parents. What was my point here? I don’t think I’ve made it. I guess there is no difference between children and puppies, except that puppies ask fewer questions. And yes, Annie, they are fluffier.
PS: For what it’s worth, the first paragraph of your letter describes me, like, perfectly. Perhaps we have not grown so very different at all, and a woman in her thirties is a woman in her thirties, single, married, mom, not mom, etc.
The more I think about it, the thing I would prefer most to discover a box of on my doorstep would be this:
That, or a box of hundred dollar bills.