I never wanted to have kids. I figured that if I was going to have one, I would want one more than I did, which was not at all. So I never had kids for that reason. I mean, it's one thing to not want an ipod, but you get one because everyone else has one, and you get sick of people asking why you don't have one.
But that's an ipod, not a
People always said "Oh, you'll want one when you're older." I'm 41. F@#$in' clock's about done, and still no parental itch.
Even worse was "Just have one, you'll love it." That's something you say about gin and tonics, not
people. Besides, what if I
didn't? It's not like I can get the receipt from the maternity ward and drag an 8-year old down there demanding my money back.
"You'll have kids when you get married." I got married. I got
divorced, too. Suddenly all those idiots were saying it was a good thing I
didn'thave kids. Hey, make up your f@#$ing mind...
"When you meet the right woman/when you love someone enough, you'll want a baby." Foregoing the inherent insult to my relationship history and/or emotional inadequacy (one can hardly take offense at the truth), there was always something a bit weird about this idea. I can't imagine thinking "I love you so much I wanna knock you up." And if it is indeed because I am some kind of emotional quadriplegic, then it's a good thing I never bred, innit?
I guess I just can't muster up enough self-importance to think either I or my family must be preserved for posterity. In the pool of 6 billion, I will gladly concede my absolute replace-ability.
Besides, my sister had four kids; isn't that enough?
I have no interest in having a child at this age, no matter with whom. This
especiallyapplies to young women (whom I refuse to consider as partners, no matter how often my friends and coworkers try to introduce me to a nice 'woman'
The last thing I need is to be some miserable old man being doted on by
a woman who could very rightly wonder why she's spent the best years of
her life taking care of this decrepit old bastard.
Just a horrid thought; if I had
a kid, at their high school graduation they'd be asked if that was
his/her grandfather sitting with their mother. I'd be lucky to live long enough to see them graduate from college, let alone graduate school.
I didn't get married and have kids in my 20s. I think its only fair that I don't get married and have kids with someone else in
their20s. It's like amusement parks; at a certain point you're not allowed into certain attractions, no matter how much fun they are. Those are for young people, not old ones...
At this st(age), I'd be happier meeting a woman close to my own age who already had a child or two. I don't care if she's divorced; so am I. I used to have
my whole life in front of me. Now, I have the rest of it. A subtle, but significant difference.
One of my coworkers has a daughter who is around 8. I take Vickie to see English-language kids' movies like
Bee Movie and
Alvin and the Chipmunks. I actually enjoy them, and I have fun hanging out with an 8 year old.
I'm better now, but the first few times I did it I was absolutely terrified that something would happen. I have, obviously, no experience with kids. I worried about 'the gap between the train and the platform.' I worried about crowds. I made her hold my hand all the time. I was afraid someone might bump into her. I was afraid she might not get well taken care of by the police when I got arrested for braining some poor slob who bumped into me, or her, and set of this weird protection instinct.
It took me a long time to learn how safe it is for kids in Hong Kong. Once, I had to go the men's room before the movie. I called Vickie's mother and had her talk to Vickie, who stood in the theatre lobby, the entire time I was away from her. I mean, I've lost a friend's keys. I wouldn't take the same risk with a child.
I enjoy playing the part of uncle. Besides, no one will mistake me for her father. Vickie's Chinese. Which is probably why everyone on the MTR stares at us.
Well, that and the fact that staring is Hong Kong's national pastime...
It may also be because I am 6'4" and instead of bending over to hear her, I will just hang like a gorilla from the bar in the center of the car; it puts our faces on roughly the same level. Which also tends to expose the tattoos on my upper arms.
So in some small way I can understand a certain weird jingoism that might make people wonder what this tiny little Chinese girl is doing with this overgrown tattooed
gweilowho keeps shooting them dirty looks and mouthing, in Cantonese and out of the little girl's line of sight, "
What the f#$% are you staring at?"
The great thing about kids is that they are so straightforward:
"Why is everyone staring at us?"
"Well, Vickie, they're wondering why you and I are holding hands."
"You mean because you're American and I'm Chinese?"
"Yes, Vickie. But you're American too, remember."
"But I don't look American."
"Yes you do, Vickie. Everyone looks American because Americans don't look any certain way."
"Then why does everyone in Hong Kong look Chinese?"
"Because Hong Kong is part of China."
Luckily for me, she changed her line of questioning:
"Why is your hair golden colored and my hair is black?"
"Genetics. Your parents had black hair. Their parents had black hair. So you have black hair."
"Your parents had golden hair?"
"Well, no, actually."
"Then why do you have it?"
"Recessive genes. You'll learn about that later."
"Oh, okay." Kids are so trusting it makes me nervous. Besides, how could I tell her the postman had blond hair?
One of the best things Vickie ever said to me was "When I lived in the US, I spoke English. And now in Hong Kong I speak Cantonese. You've been here a year. Why can't you speak Cantonese?"
I suppose I find something oddly redemptive in spending time with this little girl. I never thought of myself as having parent potential. But it's good to know that at least I can manage to communicate with her. It's nice to know I can be trusted with this little human being, and that she trusts me, and even likes me in that wonderful way kids do.
It lets me see what I've supposedly been missing. I think I make a good parent for an afternoon. A lifetime? I doubt it. But being an uncle that long is okay. With four nephews, it's not like I have a choice.
I worry sometimes that when Vickie becomes a teenager she won't want to spend time with me any more. But I hope someday, in about 10 years, that I am still close enough to her that I can re-enact this scene in Cantonese the first time some unfortunate kid comes to her house to pick her up for a date:
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