Thursday, August 30, 2012
Today, I held the coffee shop door open for the world's slowest stroller-laden mother of two, even though, had I shouldered past, I could have been halfway back to my house and covered in muffin.
This morning, I sent a measured email to colleagues suggesting that, in future, we do X, despite the fact that what I wanted to write was: XBJKLWEJLASDF.
I have listened, patiently and with appropriate murmurings, to people discourse on any number of topics in which I have no interest whatsoever. I should note there aren't many of these topics -I have a high boredom threshold- but in case you would like to bore me in future, they include a) Your child's potty training b) NASCAR c) Ars subtilior d) Dog grooming.
Other times, though, I do the wrong thing, and the rightness of the wrong thing -its electric, sparkling whoosh- shoots up my spine as if I've hit the third rail. The power of the right kind of wrongness lies in its direct line to desire: whenever you do the right kind of wrong thing, you're finally admitting that, despite what you told yourself, you've wanted it all along.
And thus it was that I came to this. A small thing, really: a browser plugin that allows you, finally, handily, to replace all of the baby pictures your friends plaster on Facebook with something you choose, like cats, or daleks. Free at last!
It's a small thing, a stupid thing, but it points at something larger: the fault line, growing though not undbridgeable, between folks who are parents and folks who are not. I doubt that many people with children will use unbaby.me, or even find it particularly funny. But I do.
The plugin touches something in me. It's something a little bit nasty and not at all compassionate, an aggrieved something, a something both judged and judging. To admit to it makes me uncomfortable, but I have to say that when I think about the app I feel the zing, the delectable spark, of doing the wrong thing, of having someone else speak, at last, the words that have been rotting on my tongue.
Hey! Parents! No one thinks your kids are anywhere near as interesting or awesome or gifted or so all-fired-cute as you do! You're programmed to think that way; get some perspective, have some consideration, and spare us the constant updates on your progeny! Your kids are only doing things the hundreds of children I see every day, and in fact every other child on the planet, have done before! Only your kids are probably doing them more obnoxiously, because you've obviously made them the center of your universe!
The vitriol I carry around on this surprises me. I wonder, as I always do, if I'll feel differently when -or if- I have children of my own. I like children. I spend most days of the week with them. They're cute. I enjoy seeing, from time to time, a photo. And if the point of Facebook is to share your life with others, and your life consists pretty much entirely of your kids, are you, as an over-sharing parent, really doing anything wrong?
Is it fear? Do your posts make me worry that I'll have no life apart from kids if I become a mother? Or does my irritation come from feeling judged, from that air of superiority parents adopt, as if you couldn't possibly understand the great sacredness of my undertaking, you poor childless boob. Is it the frequent and the self-righteous prioritization of children's wants over adult concerns? Is it jealousy? Or does it come from grief: I used to have a friend, but now all I've got is Tommy's Mommy?
Probably a little of all of these, plus a soupcon of genuine boredom. But I get it, parents: that's your story and you're sticking to it. Keep it up. You're dong the right thing. I'll just be here in my corner of the Internetz, turning your children into cheese.