I Don’t Apologize for Having a Kid

Did you know I have a kid?

Her name is Betty. She likes Star Wars and Rube Goldberg machines and says crazy things.

Of course you know. I talk about her all the time.

And I’m not sorry.

First, some context.

I hate people who say, “Thanks for sharing!” when someone gets up and says they’re going to go to the bathroom. I may love them at other times, but at that point, I hate them. It’s an emotion. I can’t control it. Why? Because it’s one of those “jokes” that requires no effort, no wit, and isn’t actually funny. I’ve actually been conducting an experiment for more than 20 years now. If a person does the “Thanks for sharing” joke to someone else at the table, I wait about fifteen minutes and then abruptly get up without saying anything. When I return, in almost all cases, the “Thanks for sharing” guy (it’s almost always a guy) wants to know where you were.

I bring this up because my new “thanks for sharing” is the folks who post, “Things you have to stop Tweeting about!” lists, or more specifically, links to ones created by other people.

They usually have a variation of one of these statements:

“No one wants to hear about your kid!”
“Your kid isn’t adorable in real life. It isn’t adorable on Twitter.”
“Stop with the, ‘You won’t believe what my kid did today!’ posts.”
“Having a kid doesn’t make you special. Get over it.”

Etc.

First of all, I can only imagine the reason that these folks simply don’t just unfollow people who talk about their kids is because they like some of what the people say, or because they’re friends with the person and don’t want to seem rude.

Check this out:

Posting some passive-aggressive snark where you put some fake Internet moratorium on me talking about my kid will get noticed a hell of a lot more quickly than you unfollowing me. Seriously, just unfollow!

What will most likely happen is I’ll look at my follower list and go, “Aw, dang, what happened to my friend? Maybe they’re taking a break or went out and got a life or maybe they’re sick of me talking about my kid.”

I won’t know, and that’ll be good for both of us. Give yourself some wiggle room!

If, for some reason, you NEED me to know you don’t like it when I talk about my kid, you’re playing some game I don’t want any part of.

Now, granted, this may be someone blowing of steam about someone ELSE’S kid, and they like Betty just fine. I’m not making a stand for all the world’s children, and who knows, maybe there’s someone out there who’s doing a really crap job of talking about their kid.

I’d suggest the same tactic, though, which is simply unfollow them. If you’re just really bad at managing your lists, and are doing some sort of shotgun approach to try and martial the actions of others, good luck. I may be a bit bemused by the way you handle your business, but I ain’t mad at you. Lumped into this is people that complain about kids at airports, on buses, in restaurants, at movies, etc. I’m totally get that. Kids in public are a pain for EVERYONE involved, and I seriously think that when you’re doing it you need to realize that you are living on everyone’s good graces.

All I’m saying is that you have to realize that Betty is a huge part of my life, as much as comics, sci-fi, conspiracy theories, or whatever else I used to talk about to you invisible people. So if you don’t like me talking about Betty, I get it. Trying to get me to change by posting something that says talking about your kid is wrong won’t help you. Currently, there are roughly five hours in a day where I’m not hanging out with her, and not a lot happens during that time.

I’ve done one thing to accommodate folks, and that’s to post all of the things he says to a separate Twitter account. So if the thing you can’t stand is “Awww…look what Betty said today,” it can help. It doesn’t mean there isn’t any bleed-through. I exist in this equation, after all.

And yeah, I put my money where my mouth is on this one. If I realize I made a mistake and was following someone who I can’t stand, I usually drop them rather than telling them what they can or can’t say.

“What about this post?” you might ask. “Aren’t you telling people what they can and can’t say?”

This is mostly for the people who follow me who like Betty so they can go, “Yeah!”

If it was directed at kid-haters, there’d be a lot more swearing.

Finally, because the title kind of demands it, I’ll once again address that anonymous woman who glared at me and muttered, “Selfish,” when I passed her with Betty on my shoulders a few years back.

You can go ahead and say that having children is a drain on the world’s resources, and contribute to planet-death in the abstract. Betty riding on my shoulders is not abstract. She’s right there. She exists. Is it selfish to clothe and feed her, work to educate her, listen to her, play with her, and love her? Absolutely not.

Were my wife and I selfish to decide to bring Betty into the world when there are so many people here already? Perhaps. Would we do it again?

In a heartbeat.

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About paulgude

Paul Gude writes small books, makes stupid music, draws silly pictures, and does weird things on stage.
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3 Responses to I Don’t Apologize for Having a Kid

  1. The notion that you cannot talk about what you want to talk about your own blog has always stuck me as insane. If you want to talk about your daughter, then people uninteresting in the subject are under no obligation to read it 😉

    This sounds familiar, as if I could replace ‘your daughter’ with ‘American football’ in reference to someone else’s blog… 😉

  2. paulgude says:

    Lord, yes. Save me from the kind of popularity that makes people feel they’re entitled to tell me what my interests should be.

  3. Liz Haner says:

    I like hearing about BG. She seems like a really neat kid, and she is lucky to have parents who encourage her uniqueness and creativity. YOU are not selfish for having a child; that woman’s parents, perhaps.

    By the way, you should read Nurtureshock, especially the chapter which talks about the importance of sustained imaginative play for preschoolers (Can Self-Control Be Taught?).

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