No, a cab driver didn’t really convince me to have kids.
But he sure did try.
As soon as I got in, I knew he was was going to be one of “those” drivers.
You know: the talkative kind.
My first clue was that he asked, “How was your day?” instead of asking where I was going.
“Great, thanks” I answered. “10th avenue and 23rd street, please.”
Soon as he turned on the meter, here’s the next thing he asked:
“No,” I said. “You?”
“Yes. A seven-year-old. So, you planning to have kids?”
He spent the whole ride insisting I should.
Him: “What if everyone felt that way? We’d all die out.”
Me: “Yeah, that’s not really an issue.”
We’ll all die out, sure. But not because people stop pushing out kids (and bringing them to the farmer’s market to touch all the samples).
Him: “You know, here, we think about it selfishly – like, how will having kids affect my lifestyle? But in Spain, they really revere kids.”
Me: “Maybe that’s because there are so few of them. Spain has a low-birth-rate problem.”
Him: “Why’d you get married if you don’t want kids? You know, the point of marriage was originally to raise children.”
Me: “And the point of kids was originally to have extra hands in the field.”
Him: “What if your parents had felt the way you do? Aren’t you glad you were born?”
Me: “Yes, and so are they. But then again, they wanted kids.”
You’re probably wondering why I bothered.
Yes, I could have said “none of your biznatch,” from the very start. But people tiptoe around the issue too much as it is. I’ve never understood why kids are such a sensitive, private topic, except that it takes a penis and vagina, AKA “private parts,” to make one.
Correction: kids are not a private topic. “No kids” is. Or are.
Not having kids either means something’s wrong in the plumbing-slash-private-parts department (and no one wants to open up that can of sperm), or it means that you’re a weirdo.
As far as we’ve come in seeing babies as a choice, “no babies” is still not a normal choice.
For one, most people with kids don’t like that decision. They’re very disapproving. This isn’t everyone, mind you. Some friends, when my husband and I finally said No, we’re not doing it, were all high-fives:
“Good for you! I wouldn’t give my kids up [you have to say this] but my baby just vomited all over me, and the older one is biting kids at school.”
Other people, however, insisted that I was making a huge mistake.
Some didn’t want me to miss out. They simply wanted to share the incredible joy, just as I do when I plead with people to finally watch “The Wire.”
Some assured me that having a niece and nephew was enough. “You’ll get to be the cool aunt,” they said. Which is true, I am the cool aunt — even if my niece and nephew don’t know that. (I should probably slip them a 20-spot here and there, is that what cool aunts do?) But the point of this promise was that any woman who doesn’t have her own kids needs someone else’s to compensate.
And others couldn’t tolerate the idea that kids are an option. Because then, they’d have to consider whether they made the right choice. As long as it’s just “something you do,” you didn’t have to question it.
It’s not their fault that this idea was so jarring to them. Of course it’s weird: No one ever hears about it growing up, except in folk tales of sad, desperate old childless couples. Like the one we read in my high school Spanish class — a play called “Yerma”, about a woman who’s barren. Spoiler alert: she kills her husband.
In the few years since this cab driver’s intervention, there’s been more talk of the “child-free by choice” life. But it’s hardly taken off the way, say, decluttering, or farm-to-table dining, have.
The happy people with no kids get little air time – because we’re not “trendy.”
Take a look at all the magazines. They’re positively breathless over baby-making: “Bump Watch!” “Celebrity Tots!” “Celebrities: They’re Just Like US! They take their kids to the potty!” “Kim Kardashian: Already Back To Her Pre-Baby Bikini Body!” “Jennifer Still Wants Brad’s Babies!” “Jennifer Trying For Justin’s Babies!” “Jennifer – A Mama At Last!” “Baby Heartbreak For Jennifer!”
What if Jenny Ani decided not to have kids?
The only story would be that she’s a child-hating monster and dry-vagina-having shrew, and no wonder Brad left for the fertile, fecund baby-rain forest of life as Brangelina. Come to think of it, they’ve already run that story.
They’d never spin it as a happy tale. When was the last time you saw the headline: “Guess Which Joyful Celeb Isn’t Pregnant!” or “Star Couple Not Having Kids – And They’re Over The Moon!”
Covers like that wouldn’t sell magazines.
Well, I’d sure buy them. But moms wouldn’t. And everyone’s targeting moms because moms buy baby stuff. And baby stuff makes money.
There’s no such market as non-baby stuff.
Oh wait, yes there is: 2-door cars, luxury kid-free resorts, late-night tapas restaurants. Head-on, peel ‘n’ eat shrimp. WHITE SOFAS.
But I don’t want to rub it in. That’s for another time.
For now, share this with someone who needs to read it.
And, leave a comment over on the blog and tell me what you think: about the pressure to have babies, about Jennifer Aniston’s womb, or about the play “Yerma” — en español, por favor. (You can go to the original post to leave a comment.)
You can also tell me to have a baby, but if the cab driver couldn’t convince me, you sure aren’t going to.
Originally published at talkingshrimp.com