Kids

A little while ago my friend Josh had an interesting post with the same title. I replied along with a few other people (all guys) and both sides had pretty compelling arguments for and against having kids, but the whole discussion got me thinking what having a kid means to me.

The thought came back to me when my daughter participated in a concert few weeks ago. Usually I go to school concerts to make fun of other kids lazily producing fart-like-noises to their parents’ enthusiastic applause. When my kid told me she will be playing with Mark Wood, I immediately complained about the $10 ticket price (who does this Mark Wood think he is to charge for the concert), then I whined about the need to buy uniforms, and about having to sell 10 tickets and when I was done bitching I just said “whatever, Mark Wood, Schmark Schwood, here is my 10 bucks”.

Few days before the show were spent rehearsing; she came home every day gushing how cool it was, how Mark personally met and coached all the kids, how the uniforms were changed to rock concert attire, how she was picked to play upfront and how she couldn’t wait to go back. On the day of the concert the auditorium was packed. Several school string orchestras were on stage and some younger kids were in the aisles. When the lights went off and Mark Wood appeared on stage we were in the middle of a real rock-concert. It was mind-blowing and awesome. Even today, several weeks after the event, I still feel the beat, feel the excitement, feel the energy – all the words normally absent from my everyday vernacular.

For every song several kids were called to the front to play one of Mark Wood’s electric instruments. When it was my daughter’s turn I only had one thought in my head: “That’s my kid!”. That’s the only thing I could think about during the entire song (apparently I can’t have two simultaneous thoughts, because that’s the only song I didn’t record). My daughter was playing at the front of the stage, with the world-renowned musician next to her, flashing rock-lights and the audience going wild.

With “That’s my kid!” constantly pounding through my head I thought of something else. I thought about an amazing chain of events that led to my child calmly playing a tune in front of hundreds of people. Events like my Dad surviving in a ghetto and my Mom being born in evacuation, living through hunger and hard times; my childhood, school, Army; a day when I first saw my future wife on the first day at a new job; a day when we got off the plane at the Kansas City airport with a few bags and couple of hundred bucks; a day when I found out my wife was pregnant; a night when we drove to the hospital after going to a riverboat the same evening; the first sound, the first diaper, the first step, the first word… Everything had to happen just right for my daughter to be at that concert, thousands of our ancestors being born, meeting each other, falling in love, dying; happiness, drama, love and tragedy of all the earlier generations culminated in that performance. For a non-religious person this was a pretty striking experience.

There are many reasons why one shouldn’t have a kid, from personal, to financial to medical. But if I croak tomorrow I will do it knowing that part of me lives on, and not only me but everyone who came before me and her Mom, and as screwed up gene combination as this may be, it’s probably worth propagating.  I laugh when she makes fun of the stupid people as I recognize my parenting contribution, and I like when she smiles like her Mother. I am  pretty sure all of our ancestors would be proud of who was on stage that night.

I know, teen years are still ahead of us and then it never ends with college, marriage and whatever happens next, but if I could go back to the bathroom at the moment when my wife was throwing her birth-control pills into the toilet, I would only help her flush them down.

The song was over and my daughter went to the back of the stage, but even there the spotlight followed her and for the rest of the concert I could see her rocking out and going crazy highlighted by the strobes.

When the show ended I stood in the hallway waiting for my daughter to get her concert poster autographed.  Still overwhelmed I couldn’t help but think that none of this would have happened if some 13 years ago my wife would’ve listened to all my logical reasons why we should wait to have a kid.

And then I spent $20 on a concert DVD…

  • Yep. To all of it.

    You know the movie with “der fire vorm”? The one that if you’re up past 10 PM on any given night, no matter what channel you flip your TV to, there it is? The one with hacking and hewing and blood and…well…so there was one bit in the film that resonated within me, a bit that you nicely touched on this morning:

    ‘Lo, there do I see my father.
    ‘Lo, there do I see My mother, and my sisters, and my brothers.
    ‘Lo, there do I see The line of my people…
    Back to the beginning.
    ‘Lo, they do call to me.
    They bid me take my place among them…
    *

    These words evince, in so far as the crudity that is language can…not emotions, exactly, but our universal genetic/racial memory, that which we feel both in our bones and in the stars in our eyes, that in us which strains outward with a fierce heart to both coddle and thrust forward our own spawn in hopes that we are more than the dust that covers our feet…

    Well…okay – I’ve had more coffee than normal. Sorry.

    Nice post.

    * I stayed my hand from finishing the refrain as a sop to those indivdiuals who are sick and tired of having religion thrust down their throats every time they turn around.

  • Burrowowl

    Why, you self-centered breeder, you! Think of the impact your spawn is having on our poor overburdened Mother Earth!

    I jest, of course. Folks’ mileage will vary, but I’ve found that having kids is tremendously rewarding. Particularly when I get to share the things I love with my boys.

  • Melinda

    This is probably my favorite post of yours, Meesha, though I won’t deny that the food posts are also awesome. I can see the proud parent in your words!! Go kid!

  • Parental person

    You big sap! You made me cry, damn it.

    Speaking as someone who hated kids, had no interest in kids, never wanted to have kids, lived a child-unfriendly life (in an expensive, crowded, child-hating city, dinner at 10pm, out till 4am, spur-of-the-minute overseas travel) and yes, one of those cranks who openly glared at parents who brought their kids on the plane, I totally, totally agree.

    In my very late 30s I became the parent of two of the most gorgeous, adorable children around (that’s just pure objective fact) but that doesn’t mean I like kids (other than my own) any more than I did. If possible, I hate them more now, because they’re constantly in my life. I have to see them at my kid’s school, on playdates, at birthday parties. Yuck. Bunch of brats.

    But day-to-day with my own children, and all the funny/profound/ignorant/brilliant/innocent things they do and think and say, has been the most mind-blowing, life-affirming, joyful project of my life. And mine, unlike your S, were not total angels. Mine were colicky and refluxy and screamed bloody murder and didn’t sleep through the night until closer to 12 months old and even now my 2.7 year old would sooner put the potty on his head than pee in it. But oh well. That will pass. I can’t wait to go camping in national parks with them, to read Charlie and the Chocolate Factory to them, and I totally get that amazing thing about them being the culmination and fruit of all the history before them. I LOVE that part.

    And you know I’d be thrilled if they came out as well as your daughter. She ROCKS.

  • This is the best post I’ve read in a loooong time. Well done, Dad.

  • midtown miscreant

    Some of your finest stuff to date.

  • I travel for JOOLS

    This tribute made me cry. Whatever you do, save it. Save it and give it to her on her wedding day after she has walked down the aisle because I guarantee you, it will ruin her make-up.

    Beautiful, just beautiful.

  • Thanks.I don’t think ruining her make-up is something she would thank me for

  • I travel for JOOLS

    Oh for Pete’s sake. That was just a thing I said to represent how sentimental that day would be…so give it to her when she graduates from high school or some other occasion like her 18th birthday. The point is to give it to her!!!

  • Rick in PV

    Now that’s what I call great blogging! A heartfelt slice of life.

  • amy

    wow… that was beautiful. i think you should keep all your posts in your head for a while prior to publishing. she’s a pretty lucky kid.

  • You’re gonna ruin your crusty reputation with posts like these, my comrade! 😉

  • I know I’m reading this late, but I’m glad I found it. It’s things like this that leave the lingering doubt in my head about whether I’m making the right decision. It’s things like this that inspired my post in the first place.

  • : ( . . . .

    =

    : )

    yay, dad.
    yay, writer.

  • Thanks, Josh and Tracy

  • Donna Wood

    I somehow missed this when you posted it, although I remember the Mark Wood thing (and me claiming he was an in-law of mine).  Excellent post.