Monthly Archives: September 2013

Profane Is Not Profound…And It Is Certainly Not For A Preschooler

Some people just don’t give a f@€k!

And it’s evident in the way they choose to conduct themselves, in the language they use publicly, especially near children.

This has been clear for me many times over, but during a Starbucks visit on a Saturday evening earlier this month with my husband and my three-year-old daughter in tow, we were subject to it.

Because the evening had just an edge of a chill — and I had prepared for an end-of-day cooling off, the little lady was just fine with a light zip-up hoodie. So, we sat outside as our Starbucks (or rather, the one we prefer. As anyone knows: throw a coin, hit another Starbucks) has a welcoming setup: just dim enough outdoor lighting, wrought iron chairs, tables, a few umbrellas with the company’s name emblazoned across, a few decently spaced out trash cans, and a view of inside the beloved coffee shop, as well as everything going on around you along Starbucks’ sitting area and the quaint shopping center of which it is a part.

A few tables over were some other adults — initially two gentlemen who looked older than us — who were soon joined by a handful of other individuals. All of them were loud talkers, which is fine. My own husband has a voice that carries. That’s no crime. But, they abruptly began sprinkling their conversation with profanity. The first instance, I wasn’t bothered because I figured they either didn’t see my child or wouldn’t continue swearing. Me giving people the benefit of the doubt. Me attempting to have faith in humanity. Me naive. Me wrong. It continued — even after a short pause in their conversation as my daughter nearly took a bad spill when she slid off her chair; clearly, they noticed her presence in that moment.

Disrespect. Immaturity. Insensitivity. These characters, these colorful cards, these childish boors exhibited all three. Yes, toward me and toward my husband, but I don’t care one iota about that. I care about that all of it was also put upon my young child, who is not mature enough herself to turn toward these folks, these rough-around-the-edges, potty-mouthed anal tracks (at least one was a woman but she acted like a man. Not quite what Steve Harvey has recommended) and say, “Please, don’t curse around me.” I bet even if she had the mind to speak on it, they might have ignored her. I mean, if you are going to use profanity in public, near a child, surely you’re the type capable of other ignorant actions, correct?

This is really the entire rub of it: How unfair they were being to my child. Even though it wasn’t directed at her, and even though it’s possible that she didn’t pick up on any of it, it was still a verbal assault. And since most kids her age, including the little lady herself, are human parrots, it’s possible that some small part of it landed somewhere in her gray matter, yet to announce its presence.

If you don’t have Tourette’s Syndrome, there is no reason for you to be using profanity in public. None. End of story. I don’t really care who doesn’t agree with this. I stand firm in it. Hate me for it if you must. Just…Stop. Cursing. Around. Children.

Look, I’m an adult, so I can handle adult things, sometimes simply by letting it pass. On my own, profanity doesn’t bother me. I can choose to ignore it, and usually do. I can pretend that I didn’t hear anything, also a normal approach of mine. But, I am against profanity. Not because of strong religious ideals (as I am not very religious); or because of a lofty judgmental perspective: there is no way I would ever believe that I am better than anyone or vice versa; and not even because I believe that I am without fault. I’m an imperfect human just like every one else who walks this watery ball. Moreover, no pride in admitting this, but I used to curse like a truck driver during my adolescence and college years.

Used to. Because cursing is to meaning as a candy bar is to calories — empty. Just like a candy bar does nothing to enrich your health, profanity does nothing to back up an argument, or get a point across intelligently. Actual words will always trump because they have actual meaning, and profanity boils down to nothing but ugly sounds.

And considering how knee-jerk judgmental so many people are, do you really want to hand a stranger what seems like a valid reason to misread you as a person just because you cursed in public? To think you’re uneducated, unclassy, uncouth? To see an aggressive, rude brute? I don’t know…maybe you are such a person, who might shrug and say, “Who gives a f@€k1ng sh**?” to all of those inquires.

The Salt Lake Tribune (sltrib.com) reported on a study conducted by Brigham Young University, which found that profanity is “related to being physically violent and aggressive in how they treat others.” Sarah M. Coyne, a BYU assistant professor of family life and lead author of the study said: “‘It represents a lack of respect for parents or whoever you’re using it towards. It’s like a slippery slope. You start using it, and it becomes associated with other aggression.'”  So, there’s a probability that once my daughter begins to really note curse words due to the unkindness of strangers, that she’ll not only begin to repeat them, but eventually exhibit disrespect and aggression. I don’t want this around my daughter! I don’t want her to become this! Because I am her mother, I have a say in this — one that felt denied when these low-class creeps took it upon themselves to essentially decide for her, me, and my husband that she would in fact, be hearing such verbal garbage simply because she was enjoying an evening out with her parents. That doesn’t add up to me.

Tom Long, a man interviewed in the article said: “‘Most people are using profanity because they know it’s an aggressive thing to do.'” Long also said that profanity exhibits a lack of intellect. I couldn’t agree more. Jorge Barraza, another man interviewed, said that he teaches his son that “‘when you speak that way, you look more ignorant.'” I also agree with this. It’s another reason I don’t want it around her, so that she doesn’t also in turn come across as a dumb ignoramus, with judgement being laid upon her.

OK, what others think of us is none of our business really, and wholly their problem. BUT, when you make a habit of something, it isn’t easy to turn off. Read: Job interviews, for one instance where you wouldn’t want to be your own worst enemy. Now, I could care less if these slime balls or  anyone else like them ever stupidly bombs an interview for perspective employment — it would be what they deserve for having loose lips spewing forth junk. What I am saying is, life is hard enough. I don’t want the influence of individuals that we don’t know shaping her into this sort of person, who says whatever comes to mind without thinking about how it might make others feel uncomfortable or just put forth what could be a false representation of who she is as a person.

In spite of all that I am saying, in spite of my long ago conscious choice to stop swearing, every once in awhile, in particular when I’m really angry or I injure myself badly, an f-bomb will drop. I bet this is a natural response for anyone to either an extreme emotion, or pain. But I try to keep it to a minimum because it’s the responsible, gentle, fair thing to do when you have a child, because it doesn’t sound good, because I have a vast enough vocabulary and can certainly express myself clearer with words. Above all else, I don’t slip up in public or in conversations with anyone in my life that I care about because my first thought is: I don’t want to unintentionally offend anyone, and have that effectively end a relationship or keep a new one from starting. That would be a careless way to interact with others, to live life, to put forth any reaction or response.

To correlate, Psychology Today (psychologytoday.com) posted this: “A recent article in the Association of Psychological Science’s Observer discusses some of the issues in the study of swearing. These researchers note that swearing increases with strong emotions. Hit your thumb with a hammer, make a big mistake, or get startled or angry, and even the most polite and reverent person will likely swear. The researchers suggest that swear words might have a cathartic effect of making us feel better after an injury or emotional episode. It is clear that swearing can take the form of verbal abuse and harassment, and it is this sort of swearing that can be potentially harmful — a substitute for physical aggression…..In all likelihood it isn’t swearing itself that is harmful,…but the factors associated with swearing. For example, when we hear a young child swear, we assume that the child lacks discipline, and a swearing child might suggest to us that he or she is a bully or ‘bad influence’ on other children.”

It’s unfortunate, at least in my mind, that the use of profanity has permeated our society like so many other things that we don’t benefit from, to the point of desensitization. That’s why when it comes to my child, I get really heated about this subject — there is already too much in this world that will wear away her innocence. Granted, there is much worse badness to protect her from, but because a large part of being a parent is providing the best protection possible in all things and in all ways, and because it is my job to be my child’s advocate until she is capable to back herself, I take guarding her morality seriously, from the largest issue down to the smallest. I know profanity sits somewhere closer to the smallest range of things, but as a mom, I tend to equalize it all — no threat to her is more or less quantifiable than another.

On PsychCentral (psychcentral.com), Timothy Jay, a psychology professor at Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts was quoted: “‘By the time kids go to school now, they’re saying all the words that we try to protect them from…We find that their swearing really takes off between (ages) three and four.'” How alarming! My kid is that age!

Jay continues on: “‘As soon as kids can speak, they’re using swear words. (Well, this part can’t be entirely true. How would someone who just learned speech, know on their own about swearing?) That doesn’t mean they know what adults know, but they do repeat the words they hear.'” Exactly. A three-year-old is basically a little parrot, or a record player, repeating back to you what you just said, sometimes when you least expect them to. And they don’t have any idea of the meaning or intent behind the words until we inform them. But how about we measure twice and cut once — inform our children before they learn something improperly from someone else? Or better yet, make it so that we don’t have to worry about preschoolers picking up on adult vocabulary by never using it around them to begin with?

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If So-And-So Were Alive Today… : Examining the Shock of Reanimation Following Death

Imagine suddenly becoming conscious, possessing no ability to understand the world, society, cultural norms, current and global events, having to learn everything…again. Realizing that you’ve been dead for a significant amount of time and that all progress and evolving that has taken place, has taken place without you and you now must catch up, simply because your life has been restored. I imagine it would invoke quite a staggering sort of feeling…to say the least! One might experience fear of self (Am I a zombie?), or fear of others (Will I be lynched? Especially if I am a zombie?), but most certainly extreme confusion and disorientation would be present (So, what was the life I lived before? A test drive? A really long dream?).

A physical staggering seems most probable, as well. Anyone over 30, think about it: Arn’t you an achy mess just for sitting the wrong way for too long? Once motion has ceased, the human body can be tricky to start up again. Try this after considerable time, at least 100 years…oh yeah, and there’s that pesky decomposing element…You would at least look the part of a zombie, and even if foggy-brained, you would still be functional via the time you came from.

“I wish George Washington were still alive,” my younger sister said to me during a recent telephone conversation. It wasn’t ever something I expected her to utter; that our first president, alive during the last 66 years of the 1700’s, was a want for her. Considering that President Washington led a “strong, well-financed national government that maintained neutrality in the wars raging in Europe, suppressed rebellion, and won acceptance among Americans of all types” (Wikipedia), as well as several other helpful things, it’s not an irrational thought.

George Washington

She had been lamenting about our country’s government as it currently stands, and specifically about Syria. Confession: Even though I know that Syria has been in the news for an extended period of time, I’ve never been a political person. In other words, I haven’t been following every update regarding Syria, its relations with the U.S., or otherwise.

As a student in middle and high school, and even college, I did everything to avoid reading news publications, listening to news broadcasts, engaging in news and/or political conversations, voting in any way, etc. It was certainly a rebellion then, a display of youth and ignorance. But more than that, what I was embarrassed to admit then was that it was also due to my lack of understanding the political world.

I am not still rebelling, and hopefully not still ignorant. Still not essentially plugging my ears and going “LA LA LA!!!” (And I’d like to believe that through the sheer passing of time, I’ve acquired a slight further insight and understanding of politics.) Instead, the real reason I am not caught up on world events is that watching any adult programming during the day when you’re the parent to a toddler/pre-school age child is mostly impossible. Not only do you not have time to watch television during peak hours, but personally, my child will not “allow” me. (It took many heated debates for her to finally accept my need for screen time just to exercise daily!)

Naturally though, my mind went right over the politics — not because I am not willing to explore it, but simply, it just did due to the way in which my mind works. So, instead, I immediately thought, “Imagine how difficult, how shocking that would be for a person, any person, past public figure or no, to suddenly be alive again after a few hundred years, and have to be caught up on world events, society, culture…everything! That would be daunting in the least. That would be likened to infancy, to starting from the very beginning of your existence all over again!”

Encino Man (2)

Even though I’ve never seen the film, Encino Man (maybe just a few scenes at most), all of this speculating about President Washington — for some reason…Might it possibly be the next logical connection to draw? or is it faulty wiring in the brain? — brought the 1992 comedy starring Brendan Fraser, to mind. Wikipedia describes the film as revolving “around two geeky teenagers from Encino, Los Angeles, California, who discover a caveman in their backyard frozen in a block of ice. The caveman, played by Fraser, has to learn to live in the 20th century. Along the way, he teaches them about life.” Considering that IMDb rated the comedy 5.4/10 and Rotten Tomatoes gave it a mere 16%, audiences then must have found it as incredibly unbelievable as I do. In reality, dealing with a suddenly-alive caveman would probably be more of a science fiction film, bordering on horror, as surely the situation would get out of hand very quickly.

But, without actually viewing the movie I recognize that the same principle applies to a caveman — someone who lived even farther back than George Washington — as to Washington himself. If either Washington or a prehistoric man were to reanimate and be found by some clueless individual (clueless on how to handle the ensuing situation), would that person then try to have Washington blend in? Find clothing to fit him? Teach him today’s vernacular? Introduce him to pop culture, and current music, and social norms now? What would that scenario really be like?

Let’s examine, if you will, an overview of life in the latter portion of the 1700’s, when Washington last was beholden to gaze upon society, economy, politics, and all else: Farming, fishing, and hunting were integral to the economy and life itself. Plenty of hard labor meant that farmers and their kin worked long hours. Slavery and indentured servitude were part of the norm. Women, who had limited rights, would endure more misery than any man of the same class. Life was extremely rough for pretty much everyone, although considerably less so for rich, white men. (ehow.com)

The uptick to a downtrodden reality was the growth in those with crafting skills, such as tanners, blacksmiths, millers, carpenters, cabinet makers, silversmiths, gunsmiths, and ship makers.

Even though the first settlers of the 13 colonies were English, ethnic and religious diversity spread, eventually giving way to economic and industrial diversity, as well. And even though the colonial governments reported to the British, London was a distance; controlling the colonists and their self-governing was difficult, especially as a sense of freedom grew out of an old inherited political struggle. (ehow.com)

In our modern day, one similarity that remains — and possibly always will — is how having an abundance of funds facilitates ease and comfort in one’s life. We still farm, fish, and hunt, but not to the degree that once existed. It’s unfortunate that for all the ways things are better (no slavery; equality; advancements in medicine, technology), diversity is still a problem for some, and life is often still hard, maybe just in completely differing terms. Sad that we don’t make as much with our own hands as we used to, that smithing is basically a lost art, and that not only is so much done for us, but more is done for us than we need. Useful things turned into material stuffs.

Men’s fashion during the 1700’s was “flamboyant and frivolous,” with lengthy, full coats and vests that were embroidered with lots of bling, such as gold, jeweled buttons and “billowy” sleeves. Underneath, mounds of ruffles, and lace. Pants were worn “fitted and close to the knee” (I like to think of today’s ladies’ capri pants). This was also the days of wig-wearing; paired with a sword, a gentleman was ready to go do what men did: “‘´a courting…´a frolicking…´a drinking and ´a gaming…'” The shoes they wore for these activities (that I presume were meant more for the wealthy, Caucasian guys) were “usually black, medium heeled and pointed and prominently displayed a big shiny silver or gold buckle.” (Think: pilgrims and Thanskgiving.) (headoverheelshistory.com)

Now, comparing the above to how men dress in 2013 — even with the various styles that are worn — ole Georgie would be aghast over jeans themselves, never mind if they were slouchy in the rear (I abhor this! I abhorred it in the 1990’s; and now; and always! Can we kill this trend permanently?! Justin Bieber, you’re not original but I am addressing your wardrobe in particular!), although, once reconciling with the material itself, he might be ok with skinny fit.

Of course, if flamboyant he wants, flamboyant he could get, he just might have to be introduced to a fashion or costume designer for such fulfillment — anything shadowing Washington’s former attire would not be readily available in the mall or glimpsed in the streets on the bodies of other males. Wigs and swords and pilgrim-esque footwear is a whole other ball of wax…and listed that closely together in a sentence sounds…historically wrong, even though it apparently isn’t.

Sleepy Hollow

Last night, Fox premiered a new series based on The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, an 1820 short story penned by Washington Irving. Did I give it a chance? Did I watch it? No, I did not watch it and I shall not. I gather that the historical inaccuracies that I immediately see in the advertisements for the show would prove too distracting, that I would not even be able to separate mind from matter long enough to extract any entertainment value from it.

Wikipedia states that The Legend of Sleepy Hollow follows police constable Ichabod Crane, who is “sent from New York City to investigate a series of murders in the village of Sleepy Hollow by a mysterious Headless Horseman.” ShareTV.org explains that the new Sleepy Hollow series shows us Crane “resurrected and transported two and a half centuries into the future where he discovers a world on the brink of destruction. As humanity’s last hope, Ichabod joins forces with a modern-day police officer to unravel a mystery that dates all the way back to the founding fathers.” My apologies, but fictional character or not, my feeling is that no man, no matter who he was, no matter how great, wonderful, accomplished, would be in any position or shape to fill the role of humanity’s last hope upon facing the light of day for the first time in basically 250 years! Really. Please.

Tom Mison, the actor who portrays Crane and had roles in the 2012 films Parade’s End and Salmon Fishing in the Yemen is certainly a pretty man, isn’t he? But, he is hardly believable, and certainly not plausible as the police constable from 1820’s New York. No, the network couldn’t even sell me the trailer, which is where my observations derive from. I’ve mentioned historical inaccuracies; I will stick with the two that seem most like sore thumbs to me. First, Mison’s Crane appears way too adjusted, together — not undone, not fazed, dazed, or frazzled in any respect — to be a man from so long ago now coping with modern times. Second, Ichabod Crane is portrayed in paintings (did a quick search on Bing, “Ichabod Crane paintings”) as a white man. The modern-day police officer that Crane is paired with in the Sleepy Hollow series that premiered yesterday is of African-American descent. And is a woman. Do you see where I am going with this? I will not delve too deeply here, other than to say that I find it doubtful that a Caucasian male from the 1800’s wouldn’t take issue with these circumstances. It wouldn’t matter to him that slavery was abolished. It wouldn’t matter to him that women fought for equal rights. Most likely — and I know that I am drawing the conclusion that individuals did not possess free thought, that there were not here and there persons who disagreed with the sweeping thought processes, but — I can see all of this being a real problem for Crane.

Everything I’ve already said is only one side of it though. Imagine the shock for anyone that were to come into contact with a resurrected George Washington, or a caveman, or Ichabod Crane. Initially, people would either think it was an actor reenacting, or just insanity masquerading as performance. But if either of these three were somehow able to convince the world that, yes, President George Washington walks this earth again; yes, a caveman is among us…and is in need of speech lessons; and yes, Ichabod Crane, saving the world from destruction at your service, it would — to understate — be an adjustment for all of us, too. I imagine that all intensely religious persons would perceive it in their own way, such as anyone under the Christian umbrella, who might then be waiting for the Second Coming of Christ to follow soon after.

History would be at least partially rewritten. Museums would surely be impacted in some way…would have to change around a few exhibits. Maybe I’m leaning into the realm of science fiction with this thought (maybe not) but a butterfly effect could possibly take place. Maybe though, Washington, a caveman, and Crane would actually all find some thing enjoyable about the current world, possibly thinking: why didn’t we come up with that before? In any case, for all my time consumed with considering this topic for the last week, all that I am truly sure of is we can’t really produce a true What Would Washington Do/Say/Think/Feel conclusion.

Speculation leads to more speculation. “If the world were good for nothing else, it is a fine subject for speculation.” ~ William Hazlitt

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(You Can’t Always Get What You) Want vs. (You Get What You) Need

I’ve always thought that the Rolling Stones said it best: “‘You can’t always get what you want/But if you try sometime you find/You get what you need.'” And funny how sometimes what it works out to that you really need isn’t the first scenario that came to mind.

You can call it whatever you want depending on your religion, personal experiences, etc., whether it be God, or karma, or fate, or faith, or the universe, whatever you believe, it seems to me that once an individual truly needs or wants something right down to his/her sweet bones, then projects that need or want outwardly either in thought or verbally, it seemingly begins to happen. And for whatever reason the “it” is desired or required, unforeseen details and events do unfold, even if slowly, leading to at least partial fulfillment of either a or b.

I remind myself — practically on an automatic subconscious level — of the Stones’ famous chorus when it feels like I am swimming against the waves, when my day or week doesn’t seem to be moving along correctly, even when I’m standing at the kitchen sink washing up the dinner dishes wondering if I did enough as a mother, as a person that day. Just about any time really. But then Jagger and Company sing sagely on my mental record player, telling me: Hey, it’s OK. You’re OK. You’re human. You did what you could do this day.

You know that tag line ‘life opens up when you do’ in the Crest advertisement (that I hope I wasn’t the only one who had to look it up on the Internet! The line itself resonates so hard with me that every time I immediately forget what they are really trying to sell to me)? Yeah, I normally think of it following right behind Jagger and Company. It makes tons of sense though. Lately, I’ve been allowing it to serve as a tool for putting me back on the positive track when needed (truly: required), and for forging ahead with what feels right, even down to the tiniest things.

Recently, for me, I’ve asked a handful of need/want wishes of the universe, including good stuff on the calendar to look forward to. Maybe it’s just me (but I hope it’s not!) — seems like I hit these pockets in the year where I’m just living and not enough is going on around that. And lo! Up popped some art classes in mediums that are already part of the craft section of my hobbies. I already enrolled in one class that a friend and I are taking in a very quaint, charming, chock-full-of-history town nearby, in an equally quaint, charming, history-filled building (which, because I haven’t been there in awhile is super exciting in itself!). A smattering of others will round out the remaining segments of the years’ calendar, including some fun-sounding Mommy and Me sessions, which will hopefully help bring further socialization into our realm.

For the longest time I’ve been wishing that there was a secondary park/play area close to my home for me and my girl to enjoy just the two of us, with friends, or with Dad. Then my friend, Anna texted about this regional park that is a decent 40-ish minutes off!(Walking. Driving, probably only 5 minutes.) Our kiddos had a smashing good time; I may find myself there again this week.

And, after feeling pretty darn lonely this summer, it looks like a new friendship might be on the horizon. Friendship, both standing and newly-sprung — I want AND need that.

Of course, all of the above is what I consider a healthy awareness of wants and needs, and possessing a realistic hold on things due to having lived long enough to see what has substance and what is empty, who I am as a person, and what is important to me individually.

The importance of true and full understanding of the difference between the duo of needs and wants changes with age. But, because of its importance in and of itself, the mind of the parent is constantly in contention with the mind of the child, and requires a constant grip on maintaining definition of the two separately and simultaneously, even while shifts occur, in order to teach that child the importance. It’s slippery like Jell-o.

Catchy phrases — such as the Rolling Stones refrain — don’t just help us and arn’t just there for us. Rather, they are also for our children and for us to find a way to teach our children about life, and things, and stuff. About how much could fall down around you and you’d still be just fine, possibly whole, in fact. About what matters, about the many mirages, about appreciating what is.

Shades of gray never before were such a variant until as a parent one is faced with the dilemma of seeing clearly due to feeling put up against the opposing and misleading innate jonesing to deliver to your child everything that you never had, tangible or otherwise.

Superficiality springs to mind, as it is one of many wild cards that make keeping the lines between need and want clear, especially for parents trying to deliver the message to children. All the while, said children are tantalized by every new thingamajig in commercials and stores (and I thought I was a super target for marketing!).  As always, it has a bountiful existence, especially in affluent areas (where not everyone is necessarily affluent though!) where 16-year-olds that look older, more put together, and more successful than me drive vehicles of sleek design, vehicles that I could never dream of owning, even if I had the wallet capacity to just snap up however many I wanted…because they themselves didn’t actually work for it, but instead their parents have provided said road candy with their pretty dime. Methinks many of the privileged don’t ever hear a needs-wants discussion…whether it is delivered to them or not. In any case, how, when my daughter is of driving age will we contend with that? With the BMW’s and Mercedes and Porches of our area? Will she appreciate cars such as the very humble, very everyman Honda that her father currently drives?

As I’ve mentioned before, my kid is a natural calm debater, problem-solver, machine of reason…I can just hear her well-thought, well-planned “why I should have fancier car” monologue now. Of course, other elements come into play, such as: if we truly can’t afford it, you truly can’t have it; if we deem it unsafe (especially when she first learns to drive!), you arn’t getting behind that wheel; and probably other overriding factors. We’ll figure it out. Maybe by then, I’ll have learned to stop getting ahead of myself.

When I’m on my game, when I am confident that every decision I make for my child, every answer I give her all come from a place of love and that she knows all of that, too, sorting out what she needs from what she wants, what she wants from what she needs, and all of the in-between, black and white returns again. Then, when we are shopping at Target, for instance (as we, like many families, end up there a lot) and she asks to buy something that is most clearly a unneeded want, I explain to her that there are also many things that mommy and daddy would like to have, too. But, there isn’t enough money, space, time to enjoy all of it. She seems to get that. It seems to translate. And hopefully, she somehow in her early years understands from my explanation that her parents are not simply saying “no” because they can. But that everyone must choose what is important to themselves. If you’re willing, you sacrifice one thing for another, and more or less end up with exactly what’s right.

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Examining humanity’s reasons for populating the population

Babies are a miracle. Children are magical. Family can be light, love, salvation. None of this originates from me, but rather, is long observed, and verbalized, and written about by many before me. And, if the human spirit continues to prove resilient as it has throughout time and circumstance, others down the line will too, putting words to the paper/screen/media of their generations. To me, a child is a tangible culmination of the love between two people brought to fruition. That child may spring from your loins and the one you love, or be the result of some other union. Either way, biological or no, a child is still the result, still the product of the parents — again, any combination here — that love and raise him or her, any one that can say: this is my child, and through her/his existence, life, behavior, and so forth, is a product — partially direct, partially indirect — of how I feel about my significant other and vice versa.

That said, I personally do not feel that humanity is currently in need of boosting population. Our world is plenty numerated. It’s common knowledge that China, for example, traditionally limits couples to bearing only one child per household. Wikipedia states that this one-child policy was “created by the Chinese government to alleviate social, economic, and environmental problems in China.” I suspect lack of space falls into the latter category. Space. There just isn’t enough of it. At least not in this modern day.

I often think about what influences us to have children. I think about it when I am having a particularly tough day as a parent myself. I think about it when I observe familial situations where all of the members are in over their heads with responsibility, lack of time, energy, money, patience, space, and all the other things that could be listed. I think about it when the sheer fragility of life occurs to me once again.

Before I proceed, I want to clearly state that my intent is to present this topic with sensitivity and intelligence. Please consider this paragraph my disclaimer, as I am not pointing at any specific group(s) or individual(s), and have not chosen this topic to be controversial, but simply because I felt a pull to write about it. If it gets dialog going, so be that, as long as verbal attacks are not made on anyone by anyone.

Surely, there are individuals who would present judgement upon others due to the amount of children born, due to parents skills, due to just about anything. I cringe imagining what type of statements that would be put forth. I am not doing that. Rather, I am trying to explore in a scholarly manner and out of curiosity the why behind my question: why do people have children, especially as many as three or more?

My pondering generated a short outline:
What influences us to have children
-history? Points in time where large portions of human race were wiped out by disease, famine, war
-religious ideals? The idea in some religions that one reason to be married is to produce children
-lineage/carrying on family surname & bloodline
-rite of passage as a man or woman
-the love of family
-other feelings of “should”?
-poor planning/ “accidents”
-promiscuity
-sad situations: rape/incest

Humanity suffered severe blows throughout history, whether dealt by disease, famine, and/or war.  In Europe, the Black Plague claimed 25 million lives in just five years during the mid-1300s, according to themiddleages.net. By 1850, a million people perished in Ireland during the Great Irish Potato Famine (irishpotatofamine.net). (Incidentally, this was a silver lining states voices.yahoo.com, as it ended the middleman system, thusly elevating overcrowding.) Those are just the first two easily thought of examples that come to my mind. Wikipedia lists 65,000,00 deaths worldwide during World War I and 72,000,000 deaths worldwide during World War II. Massive wipe-outs with just a few key examples from different eras and parts of the world, examples that probably rise quickly to the surface of your mind, as well. I wonder: Does some of this still resound some how? Do we carry the past in our blood? In our reproductive systems?

Religion is not, for some, just religion, but also the way that one is meant to live. This includes marriage and reproduction. In some religions, there is an expectation that a marital union will result in offspring. I feel that this is particularly true for Catholics.

For some, the idea of their bloodline dying out, of their lineage ending with them, doesn’t sit right. Carrying the family surname forward is of great import, and plenty reason enough to bear children. Either under this or as a separate motivator is the rite of passage of being a man or a woman which produces the desire to and in turn, the result of offspring. Hopefully, the love of family ties in with the above, as to me, even if a family is created through other means, such as adoption, this is the most beautiful reason to bring about new life. Of course, there are always others reasons, sometimes just one being the feeling that one “should” experience having children.

At the other end of the spectrum, the general population expands due to poor or improper planning, possibly including but not limited to promiscuity, and of course the saddest, darkest, most base situations of rape or incest, creating not only babies, but pain, confusion and a plethora of other issues, for a different day, different post, possibly even different writer.

What are my reasons for exploring all of this? Overall, in complete simplicity: because I am a parent, and I imagine other parents find themselves not only caught up in similar thoughts, but caught up in those same thoughts over and over again, just because they happen to turn and churn over in the mind, begging analysis. Nevertheless, here is a second, smaller outline, born of my worries, complaints, observations during my parental journey, thus far:

My reasons for exploring this topic
-expense
-space
-risk
-time required
-energy required
-patience required

Like most significant occurrences in life, to have children, to provide for them, to bring them up  through all the stages of their lives into adulthood (hopefully successfully), requires much of the parents. Money, space, time,  energy, and patience are several of the major ones, but that hardly covers it.

Space though, is one thing I both struggle with in our household, and find myself wondering how other people deal with. My neighborhood is comprised of tiny starter townhouses. Our area, like pretty much everywhere else, is a mixing bowl of cultures and ethnic backgrounds. This has always been fascinating to me ever since I first learned about it in a late middle school/early high school history class. Some of the other families that live near and around us arrive with several children already. Whenever an additional child is born to any family living in one of these compact homes, the family ends up having to move. Surely, this happens everywhere, as again, our world contains plenty of people.

Life is risk. Having children is certainly added risk. The different variables that present it contrast from one generation to the next, as well as from family to family. Whether it be medical, financial, environmental, or any negative outside interference, creating life presents huge question marks. But, if all matters were not weighed against one another, humanity and the world as it is now might look very different were we to allow risk to make us fearful, and in result, see a dip in population.

As a parent, I feel that time, energy, and patience are an ever-overlapping trinity. Such great amounts of this trio are required that being both a parent and a person are challenged daily. The frustration over it makes this mother feel that she has to choose to be one or the other, but that a simultaneous duel status is not an option.

Even though I have already previously thought about this general umbrella topic at length, what made it stick in my mind a little more concretely and to the point that I felt a need, a pull, a tug to expound in words was the result of a conversation with a woman riding the bus to the mall on the same late August afternoon as myself and my little daughter. She sat across from us, older than myself probably by 20 years and upwards, alone, attached to a few shopping bags, glancing at us from moment to various moment. I wondered what observations or judgments she might be postulating, when I decided to catch her eye and smile at her. Too often, we (people in general) grimace, sneer, frown at strangers taking a visual interest in us, in who we are, what we and our lives are about. Why? Why not show kindness? So, I did, which started a conversation.

After inquiring “How old is your daughter? Where did her beautiful strawberry blond hair come from?” my exchange with this woman soon turned to how much it really involves to take on parenthood, so much in fact, that even though I’ve only one child, my husband and I decided that we’ll not have another, realizing our own personal limits. (While pregnant though, I was certain I’d have as many as four babies!)

She shared that in spite of two miscarriages, she has two children — a daughter that has given birth four times; and a son that has chosen to not have children, probably for many reasons, but beginning with the knowledge about himself that he is not cut of the parental cloth.

Aside from all the reasons why we have children, I believe that limitations are a strong reason for some to either not ever take on parenthood, or, like me, not overextend ourselves with more children. Bringing a life into the world is delicate, as is to the best of one’s ability supporting and raising that person. If I were to ever become mother to a second child, I would be outside of my capabilities to be an effective parent, and moreover, would be presenting a huge disservice to both (or all) of my children.

Opposing this, I have and always will have tons of respect for those individuals who are aware of what they can and can not handle, having the insight about themselves to see that the skills required to raise a child or several children is not present within, without embarking on the journey by choosing wisely to have none.

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