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…