Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Cabbage Patch

I'm not sure when it started. I can't pinpoint the exact time and place that I realized it for the first time. Maybe it's been blown out of proportion. Maybe I think too much. Let's just say, growing up I was never the first person, or the last person, people called on to babysit their kids. I think there was one time I can think of when a desperate neighbor called me to watch her two boys for a few hours, other than that? Nada.

I'm not sure if family counts. I think that's different. It's a convenience. It's a, "Well, she's family, what could she possibly screw up with our kids in a few hours?"

It's no so much the frequency at which I was asked to babysit, it's the fact of the matter that: I'm not a big fan of kids. Whoops.

Okay, okay. Let me clarify. This is does not mean I "hate" kids or even "strongly dislike" kids. I said, and I quote, that I am not a "big fan." Okay? Babies can be cute in their giggles and smiles and baby toes and innocence. Toddlers are adventurous and fearless. Sometimes 5 year-olds make me laugh from the silly questions they ask. I can appreciate kids so long as they are someone else's and at the end of the day they stay with that someone else.

I am the youngest child. I didn't grow up with younger siblings. I was the baby. That explains a lot, but further, I have three younger cousins who came along when I was 10 years-old. I loved, loved having younger kids in the family. I used to babysit my cousin Destaney. When she was a baby and needed a nap, I'd let her sleep, but then get bored and wake her up so she'd play with me. Soon after my cousin, Angie had two kids: Oriel and Cosette. These girls are rockstars. They're funny and sweet. I like these kids. Now they are 11, 8, and 4 years-old, but they are still pretty awesome.

I like some kids. Maybe I'm just picky.

"I didn't want to have kids either," my mom says.

My dad interjects, "Yes you did."

Most assuredly my mom repeats, "No, I didn't. It just happened." Halting for emphasis she looks me in the eyes and say, "You guys were not an accident. Having my own kids changed my mind."

Last week I went on a field trip for my children's literacy class. I don't love the class because I am secondary English and learning about picture books and illustrators seems a bit unapplicable. Either way I went to the Plum Creek Children's literacy festival last Friday with a van full of elementary education majors.

"Awwww, there so cute! Look at them holding hands," they gushed. And just like good elementary school teachers, "Ooopsy. That one just threw up. Race ya to get paper towels?"

Not kidding.

Spending a day with these girls ooo-ing and awww-ing over 2nd graders made me wonder, "Do I lack the mothering gene?"

I am not a tough, unloving, unkind person. I'm not made of steel. I'm not a suck-it-up-and-move-on sort of person. I can play. I can laugh. I can love. What's my deal?

Talking to Jeremy on the phone I considered, "I think some times I'm too logical for my own good, because often I rate my interest in kids based on how frustrating it is that I can't have a conversation with them!" Maybe I'm just frustrated that they aren't little adults, ya know? Maybe I'm not in love with kids because they are...well...kids.

I learned that this summer at camp. I couldn't put my finger on anything in particular about why working with youth was tough besides the fact that they were kids and of course they'd be immature, of course they'd have needs, of course they'd argue, of course they'd be difficult sometimes. They are kids. That's what they are supposed to be right now.

The same could be said about everyone else I interract with day to day: teachers, students, strangers. If my expectations are so high for what I think they should be, I'll always be disappointed. Just as I'd grant kids permission to be kids, I need to grant people permission to be people, just like others do for me.

On a scale of 1-10, 1 being, "No, no, never, never, uh uh uh!" and 10 being, "Yes, absolutely. I want to start my own cabbage patch," I'd say I'm anywhere from a 4-6, depending on the day and the proximity of children.


Hannah said...

That last paragraph was epic :-) I'm in the same boat as you (and around that same number range), but figure when I settle down I'll want to adopt.

Michael said...

I quite strongly agree. But hey, fortunately we don't have to make the decision to have or not to have for a while! :D

Kylie said...

haha. oh heather, you amuse me. rest assured there was no race for the paper towels...ok, maybe a little one. :)