Oh Baby. Or Not.
by Jennifer Sey
I want a baby. I am 41 years old and have two kids already. Ages 7 and 9. They can do most things for themselves these days including but not limited to: fixing their own breakfast (cereal), wiping their own butts (mostly), and putting themselves to bed, albeit past their bedtime. It’s not that things are easy. As all parents know, the hard stuff just changes as kids get older. When they’re babies it’s all about figuring out what’s causing the seemingly unprompted bawling. The surefire go to is always the boob. Whip it out, shove it in. Problem solved, mission accomplished.
By two or three years old it’s tantrums in the grocery store. Or at the park when it’s time to leave. At the top of the slide, he stomps his feet and refuses to come down. You might insist, you might scream and then you might bribe him down with sweets. But he knows what you’re up to. After downing the cookie, he grabs on to a bollard with heretofore unseen strength. And you are forced to drag him from the playground while he screams as if he were being tortured in a Turkish prison, under the glare of the hippie moms who negotiate these transitions far more calmly. At five, learning to read might cause frustration and book hurling. But at least everyone is sleeping through the night.
Of course, I’m told the hardest stuff of all is yet to come, during the fateful teenage years. Carousing, sneaking out, “experimenting” with everything from liquor to sex to
“I hate you!”. Knowing this tumult is not so far away, I take great solace in the next five peaceful years stretched before me. I’m in that sweet in between space smack dab in the middle of a child’s helplessness and his aggressive individuation. My kids are relatively independent but not rebellious. They like hanging out with mom but don’t need me to carry them, feed them, or console secret unspoken pains. The school yard has not yet divided into cool kids and nerds or Emos or whatever outcasts are called these days. They aren’t yet desperate to fit in, adopting new fashions or behaviors with the capricious whimsy once reserved for food. They like going to school, they don’t even mind homework. And I’m still able to help them with it, though I’ll admit I’ll be hitting my limits soon once we cross over from 4th grade division and percentages into middle school pre-algebra.