the original kStyle blog.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Wednesday Writing Assignment

Many of the float regulars have no aspirations to parenthood. I’m on the fence. Sometimes, however, I indulge in little fantasies about how I would Mold and Shape my theoretical perfect little children into thoughtful, independent, caring adults. And when I think such thoughts, they give me a lot of insight into what I value, what I think shaped me (for better or worse), and what I think is lacking in some of the people I meet.

So tell me about your theoretical children and how you make them beyond wonderful.


Blogger kStyle said...

My children are both girls, of course, because I’d prefer not to ask, “Now WHY did you pull the legs off that frog?” They have pretty, old-fashioned names, but each has a middle or first name that evokes something in nature—a flower, maybe, or a bird. Like Pheobe Rose, in which, conveniently, the first name is both is both a bird’s name and my deceased grandmother’s name, and the middle name is a flower. See?

Neither has an attention deficit.

They’re very aware of their Christian roots, well-versed in the predominant religious-philosophy of the West, but they’ve only been to church a few times, just to see. (Of course, they can keep going, if they like it.) I’ll start them with a non-vegetarian version of Buddhism at a young age, so they can begin liberating their minds as soon as possible. I’ll also have them studying the foreign language of their choice by age 6.

They have fun, of course, and like playing outside as well as reading, making puzzles, playing with whatever cats we have at that time, and so forth. We’ll canoe and hike and dance. I don’t know whether I could place them in public school for, although I believe in the right to free, public education, I also feel that public school can be something of a prison. Extracurricularly, they can do sports or the arts, or everything, whatever they like, but they’ll be limited to one or two activities at a time. (I did too many in high school, didn’t sleep, and so am no doubt shorter than I would have been. Plus, it’s important to have space in life.)

They’ll be raised on organic whole foods, with the occasional foray into sweets, because all things must be done in moderation. They’ll learn that food is a good, living thing that sustains us, and that their bodies are not enemies, but friends. (I’ll tell them about sex whenever they start asking about it.) I’ll teach them to cook, if ever I get the hang of it. I’ll also run them through the Life Basics step-by-step, like making & keeping a budget, cleaning, maintaining a car, apartment and job hunting. Or, if they’re sick of me telling them how to do stuff, I’ll help them find a mentor.

By the time they’re enrolled in college, if that’s what they want to do, I will strongly, strongly encourage them to study abroad. (Hopefully I’ve taken them abroad a few times by then.) They need to know that there’s a big world out there, many beautiful places that do things differently than we do but that’s okay, and sometimes even better.

9:57 AM  
Blogger Eric said...

I am going to have one girl, and her name will be Princess. At the age of 2, her mother and I will enter her in the pageant circuit, so she can learn poise and confidence and learn to dance in a way that will make boys like her someday.

Once she's amassed four hundred trophies, including one for Cutest Outfit and one for Best in Show, we'll put her in boarding school and cconcentrate on our marriage, which suffered a bit from the travel and expense of pageantry.

At boarding school, Princess will learn all the regular high school subjects, along with the usual boarding school extracurriculars of cocaine use, looking down on people, and bulimia.

In terms of the other essentials of life, Mom will be the one responsible for educating her about cooking, fashion, and sex, while I'll handle ghostwriting her school papers and teaching her how to drive stick.

Because Princess will probably flunk out due to her learning disability (not officially diagnosed, but what else would explain her grades?), she'll marry young.

We expect the first grandchild by the time she's 21, though her having had six ribs removed for cosmetic reasons might hinder the pregnancy. If necessary they'll adopt from one of the more respectable Eastern European countries.

At least that's the current plan.

12:17 PM  
Blogger Emma Goldman said...

One of the interesting things about having a stepkid is that I've learned a lot of answers to your question, even though I have limited power to actually influence, being only the stepmother and all. here are the things I know:
1. Kids want boundaries. Boundaries keep bad things out, and they reassure kids. Establishing boundaries is a good thing, but it's necessary to maintain them; halfhearted boundaries are even more confusing.
2. I decided to answer the Kid honestly, no matter what he asks. I don't necessarily give him every last fragment of information about some topics--i.e., I attempt age-appropriate answers--but I absolutely answer honestly. This seems to reassure him. (This also came up, obliquely, a couple of weeks ago when Mom & Dad were yelling on the phone--I didn't hide why we were going for a walk, and he seemed relieved at that.)
3. I believe everyone should learn basic self-sufficiency skills. The Kid isn't learning as many of these as I would like, but he's living with the all-time Mistress of Denial, so that's hardly a big surprise. This has wide-ranging implications, mostly that I try to involve him in whatever the household tasks are at the moment, from cleaning to cooking to whatever. Everyone should know how to do laundry, clean any room in the house, read/follow a recipe, sew a button, read a map, take public transportation, drive a car (probably--I manage without ever driving), wrap a gift, and make conversation no matter the other people in the gathering. Miss Manners is invaluable on the last part.
4. Exercise, exercise, exercise. I don't care what you do, and I don't care how good you are at it, but you WILL get outside and run around, and we'll find something you like to do. I think exercise is a habit best learned young.

There's probably more, but I ate a pound of nougat today.

4:44 PM  
Blogger Ann said...

At this point in my life I'm so anti-having children that even theoretical ones give me the willies.

That said, I can think of a lot of books I'd like to share with them (God forbid they don't like reading!) and songs I'd like to sing to them. And it'd be fun to make tiny little clothes. And drag them to art museums. And teach them how to write well.

I don't want kids; I just want another me.

PS. Eric's funny.

9:19 PM  
Blogger kStyle said...

Emma, could you elaborate about the boundaries, maybe give some examples? Do you mean rules, something else, or both? My pretend kids behave really well, so they're all set on that front. :)

9:53 PM  
Blogger Emma Goldman said...

I think what I mostly mean is consistency: behavior that is unacceptable today will be unacceptable tomorrow, and the day after that. I also try to be clear that I'm on to him when he's being a pain: he likes to tiptoe up to the line in the sand and see how close he can get, but if you try to call him on it he's all "What? What did I do?" and that just irritates the shit out of me. (My brother calls it "getting chalk on your shoes," i.e., the line is made of chalk.) I think it also has to do with modeling certain kinds of behavior--being polite to one's elders, saying please and thank you, helping out without being asked, doing chores without being told (though I'm losing that battle, because I'm the only one of his parental units who seems to find any value in it). With food, I encourage him to try foods, without consequences for not liking things, and that has seemed to work pretty well.

The other thing is learning to respect others' beliefs, and, given my atheism & his catholic schooling, he's had some practice with that. With it, though, goes the notion that there's still right and wrong--not everyone always agrees in every instance, but that doesn't mean you can do anything.

3:12 PM  

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