5:16 PM

Kids Scare Me

So today was my adorable niece's birthday party. And what a party it was. I think that maybe I just don't get the whole parenthood thing.

So we arrive at 11AM at the Gymboree party zone. First of all, I have to take off my boots, and my feet are instantly cold. This disturbs me. I have to leave my jacket hanging on a rack with hooks at children's height. This makes me suspicious. We're quickly escorted to a room of small slides and barrels and tubes and bubbles. I'm looking around suspiciously, and next thing I know, this crazed lady start singing all her thoughts. "1-2-3, play a game with me! Let's all play, it's your birthday today!" My ovaries aren't twitching a single iota (as women with maternal urges often joke). My stomach is clenched in the most hideous zone of discomfort.

There are yuppie type parents and kids in clothes that probably cost more than mine. But the truly weird part? Everyone is just so... happy? It feels fake and creepy and cult-ish. "Row, row, row your boat!" The parents grin at each other as they swoosh some bizarro parachute up and down with the kids under it. "Skinamarinky-dinky-dink!" The children totter about as they're pushed to beat on the rubber tube while music plays -- though not to the beat. "I went to the store to buy a bike!" Everyone oohs and aahs as children smoosh cheesies into their soft skin. "The wheels on the bus go round-and-round!" We are the only two people there without children of our own -- other than the children. "Let's all sing along-along! Let's all sing alonnnnng!"

I am not singing.

I am sitting on a tiny bench with my arms crossed. I am feeling anxious and uncomfortable and just want to get away from the creepiness and singing and weird activities. I am hiding in the corner during lunch. I am avoiding the parents with their incessant cooing and their endless talk about their kids. I am wondering why they all ask me the same question -- "So how was your holiday?" -- and then sort of mentally exit the conversation halfway through my response.
I am wanting to leave and get the hell back to my real life.

And I am wondering how the hell I will ever, ever be a parent.

I don't know about kids. I totally love hanging out with them one-on-one for specific time periods, but I am not drawn at all to this cult of mommyhood. I don't like the idea of hanging out exclusively with other parents and finding children to be my most interesting conversational topic and listening to the Wiggles and all that crazy stuff. I know that not everyone does this -- and, to be fair, my in-laws and few friends with children are great examples of normalcy when they're not around other parents; they're relaxed and laid back. However, this doesn't make the possibility any less likely, nor any less frightening. And my brother-in-law made a joke this weekend about how we say right now that we plan to live in a condo for five years, but just wait 'til I pop out a kid. I responded with a dry "Um, that sure won't be happening in the next five years." His reaction? "You don't think you'll have a kid in the next five years? How old are you, anyway?" I laughed it off. Besides, I get this kind of thing a lot from people with kids. (They generally think I'm missing out on life.) And, yes, I am pushing 30.

I just wouldn't be that parent. I wouldn't be able to handle bad music and fakery and competition and mommies, and I wouldn't be able to abandon my old life. I would want to make a newborn listen to real music. I would probably be snobby about hanging out with mommy cults. I would want to avoid group stuff at all costs and make the kid a cool part of my life instead of its star. Is that unfair to be that wrong kind of parent to a kid? Cripes.

The idea of never having a kid (and a is the key word -- there would never be more than that) seems a little sad to me, but the idea of actually doing it? I fear it's not for the best. What if that maternal thing that everybody else seems to have just never kicks in? How am I supposed to know what to do, or when to do it, or whether I should just trust my gut and stick with life as regularly scheduled?


Anonymous said...

not everyone has that "maternal thing" :) but once you have a kid, it does kick in. oh, and not all mommies are kid-crazy either. it's sort of like saying that you'll never drive 'cause if you do you'll have to buy a mercedes like all the other drivers, and you'll have to spend a lot of money on your car and treat it like your "baby". while there are people like that, majority are not (though depending on where you hang out you may only see the minority)

Foxy said...

To be honest, I don't notice this so much when parents are alone with their kids, just when they're in these groups of competitive, grinny parenthood. As Vince Vaughn says in Old School: "Look at the baby, look at the baby."

Daria said...

Oh god, I'm sorry about Saturday.

doctor T said...

I hear ya. My best friend in Calgary is a super-cool mom and she and her husband always have friends over (who aren't married and/or don't have kids) and the kids are just there -- they're not the total centre of attention but they're not ignored or anything. And the kids are great -- they talk to the adults, chill out, and we get to listen to normal music and eat chinese food with them and it's so not at all freaky. That's the kind of parent I'd like to be. Wiggles and bouncy castle parties are great for the kids, but can adults please stop pretending it's the highlight of their social calendar and just drink a martini and chill out? Yeesh.

Foxy said...

Treava, that's adorable. Now that makes me less scared.

Marianne, don't be nuts! It was the yuppie birthday party that scared the bejeesus out of me. Har.

1-2-3, SING WITH ME!

It's exactly as you predicted, I can't get that damn song out of my head!

Foxy said...

I must add that it's not even the parents of the niece that freak me out -- they're totally laid back. It's just the group stuff, that's what makes me anxious.

Couz said...

I'm still desperately seeking cool, non-child-obsessed parents that I can use as role models. If you meet any, let me know. The only requirement is that they be young-ish, have children, but not have lives that revolve solely around their little ones. And be able to carry on dinner conversation that doesn't involve diapers and teletubbies.

Know anyone? ;-)

Bri said...

OK, your intro into group activities was Gymboree?


No wonder you're shitting your pants.

Trish and I took the babes there once and never looked back. We didn't fit in. Grace wasn't wearing Robeez (gasp!). I didn't gossip with the other moms about the latest sale at Baby Gap (although to be honest, the stuff IS adorable!). I wasn't bragging about my new van (thank the lord?).

I gotta say it - parenting differently dosen't mean you're the "wrong" kind of parent. Geez, ask Kathy - she gets enough flack for doing things her own way.

So you want to listen to normal music? Good for you. I wish I'd done that. My girl dosen't like her mom's choice in music and I wish I'd put Dave Matthews on when she was 3 months old instead of introducing her to the ol' Raffi. She wouldn't have known the difference then, but she sure does now.

It is a weird thing, as a parent, to see your kid do something new or fun and to revell in the fact that "Hey! I MADE that person! Look at her sing Happy Birthday at the top of her lungs! She's so great!"

Anyway - bottom line - there are so many different ways to be a good parent. Don't let the Gymboree crowd think you've got it wrong. If the day comes that you become a mama, I'll be cheering for you because I think you'll be a great mom. You'll be that mom that teaches her kids to think. That goes in those photo booths in the mall with her kids and takes funny pictures. Ya know. =)


Foxy said...

Aw, you are adorable. And I'm relieved to know that this Gymboree thing isn't normal. Yeeks!

Bri said...

Definitely NOT normal.

And it sure as hell separates the rich folk from the poor folk. Fuuuuck. It's expensive(!) to go there on a regular basis. I only went cuz I had a free pass I printed off the internet! (ssh)

My preffered 'group' activities consist of going to playgroups where I can sit and drink my coffee while Grace goes and plays. Hah.

Bri again said...

I just thought of this.

Having kids is that one common denominator you have with all other parents. Before you had kids, you were different people, but once you have kids, at least you have that in common. Which is why so many people talk about their kids when they get together. I guess it's just natural. You might have been an astronaut and I might have been a waitress (and of course, we could still be these things) but if we both have 3 year olds, we can be on the same wavelength about tantrums, potty training, picky eating, etc. I dunno.

I'll going to make my ass stop spewing out this crap and go to bed.