I have been thinking about my nieces and nephews and God children a bit of late...I think I am too quick to rush to the assumption that their life is not as "simple" as ours was and their childhoods must be in someway less pure but now I am beginning to realize that childhood is a combination of nature and nurture. One could easily be raised by two computer designers, live in a modern home in a modern culture and still enjoy the simple pleasures of childhood which to me are discovery and safety.
We talk about the dangers toward children; kidnapping and drugs, sex and violence, bullying and premature responsibility...yet there are some children whom these things do not seem to touch. I find myself at dinner parties extolling the virtues of growing up in rural Connecticut where we could roam in the woods and not worry yet my brother's kids live in not so rural Orange County and they manage to camp nearly every year, they have a house in lake Arrowhead where they spend loads of time outdoors and yes they have iphones and play video games but they seem to enjoy fishing and playing in the snow as well so is it because their parents enjoy these things or is it "in their blood"?Do they enjoy the outdoors because they have options which come with a comfortable life? If they were poor and depended on fishing to eat, would they love to fish? Probably not!
I see other kids who love nothing more than to watch TV all day, everyday and still others who you cannot get off of a sports field no matter what the weather...is it true desire or is it to please Mom and Dad?
All of these questions fly more freely in my head these days because I have taken the decision to not have children and I am more and more comfortable with the reality of it everyday. It would be easy to label it as selfishness or immaturity but it's a lot bigger than that.
I truly feel that being responsible for the huge thing called the "human experience" and knowing that this person you bring into the world can be so easily scarred by so many different things, so devastated by life itself , not to mention the chances of them falling into the darker side of life no matter how much you love them (I have many friends dealing with this now) simply is overwhelming to me.
I am not saying that life is not filled with joy and revelation but I also know that it is not easy and that I would forever hold myself responsible for that child's happiness, it's my nature. I think I would smother that child. I am also a supreme worry wort so that child would have never been able to go out of the house.
So those are my thoughts on parenthood, after a bit of therapy and long chats with friends and family and David I have come to the conclusion that this is the right choice for me and I am now planning the rest of my child free life with undisguised glee. Traveling and continuing to be productive and creative are key in this plan as is building up a financial safety net so I CAN enjoy life, not easy in this business....
My Mom used to say "oh...having a daughter is a must, they never leave you like boys do! If you don't have children you will be lonely in your old age!" Therefore I shall endeavor to be an entertaining Auntie and a sparkling friend so that I will have company when I so desire...the truth is that I enjoy being alone so that part doesn't scare me as much as the never ending responsibility, school trauma, cost of living, teenage angst, drugs and other childhood nightmares do.
Being safe as a child is tough in this day and age and we read with horror about the child abductions and sexual abuse cases which seem to be everywhere even in supposedly safe enclaves and sleepy little towns. I know that one of the most beautiful feelings of being a child is being safe; falling asleep in the back seat of a car on the way home from some family event and being carried into your home and put to bed. These people, your parents, got you home safely and took care of you and you trusted them.
I am very much aware of the fact that there are millions of kids out there who have never felt safe and that is a crime. Childhood is a precious time of self discovery and learning and to be in an environment where danger is your primary thought is a travesty. Once again I hear the voices say "you have to get a license to get a pet, to drive a car and to get married but anyone can have a kid!"...it's sad but true.
I heard back from the Children's Cancer Hospital regarding joining their book reading volunteer group and the response was that they were incredibly full...so I signed up for the Screen Actor's Guild BookPALS instead and felt good about the fact that so many people were volunteering to read to these kids and play with them. But then I got to thinking about average kids...how often do their parents read to them? How often do any of them find a mentor in their life, someone who tells them that they are good or smart or funny?
We all know that the education crisis in this country and other's is creating a generation of indifferent children (who also have the highest rate of obesity ever!) but what are WE doing about it? Spending money on anything BUT education. The funny thing is that I find the most fun in teaching something to a kid, they are sponges and they express pride in achievement so palpably that it is a joy to behold. I can see why people would want to have a career in teaching, it's just a shame that we treat teachers like second class citizens and pay them a tenth of what they are worth....
Maybe being a "big brother or Big sister" is the way to go...I also like the idea of matching the elderly up with young kids so that both groups gain friendship and companionship...so many things to think about.....
Happy weekend xx