Monday, March 28, 2016

Pregnant Pause

Just a few years ago, the limit for humanity seemed to be 5 billion.  Then it was raised to 7 billion, and now, even 9-11 billion doesn't seem like much of a reach.  When my sister got married, I respected the fact that they chose not to have a baby.  The Earth already had too much of a population explosion, and another kid around the house would be more trouble than it's worth.
That, and I didn't want to share attention away from myself.
But then five years later, some kind of Biological clock switch suddenly flipped, and my sister decided to join the ranks of the statistically deprived.

While this doubtlessly made my parents happy, this news filled me with an air of impending doom.

My sister is one of the few people that I connect well enough to share my inner thoughts with, and can have meaningful conversations with over shared interests.  Having a baby around would mean she'd have less time to spare for the extra library books I take out for her that I think she'll really like.  Not to mention having a toddler in the process of growing up would wind up damaging the numerous comics that I've helped accumulate for both of us.
My sister, in all her glory, before bloating up.
But mostly, it's because I'm phobic about babies in general.
A close-up of my sister's unique shirt...
I've always dreaded being in the presence of children, because their sudden movements are too unpredictable and uncontrollable for me to react.  Furthermore, my number one fear is that I'll do or say something that could potentially corrupt their impressible young minds.  As much as they might look up to me for my sense of humour, my lifestyle isn't exactly something they should strive to emulate, since I'd be simultaneously the most mature and immature adult they'd ever know.  I'm more a model for a cautionary tale than anything.
Which looks a lot like those foam fruit protectors.
Assurances that I'll be a wonderful Uncle aren't very reassuring.  I have no experience in that field, and doubt that I'll overcome my anxiety anytime soon.  Just because women have been having children for generations is no excuse for my naive inexperience.  One of my guiltiest fantasies regarding babies is to hang around the paternity ward during a lightning storm, and when asked about the gender (is it a boy or a girl?), to cackle maniacally, and proudly proclaim, "IT'S ALIVE!!"  Scenarios like the above is why I shouldn't be trusted around children.  (Not that I relate to anybody within my age group anyways)
You can't look at these apples the same way anymore.
The plan was to keep my sister's pregnancy a secret until she revealed the big news on her social media.  However, the influx of hormones in her system made her continuously tired, and she wanted to draw a picture commemorating the moment, but kept putting it off.  At this point, keeping her bulging belly from being noticed is getting harder to ignore, and is pretty much general knowledge by now.  To make up for that oversight, I decided I couldn't wait any longer, and use the picture she drew on the card, commemorating her announcement.
(Chant - if you want to switch this self-caricature out, now's the time)
Even at this stage, I'm not 100% certain that the baby won't turn out to be flawed upon delivery.  Every expectant mother lives under the illusion that their babies would turn out perfect, but there are so many things that can go wrong.  It could be premature, it could be stillborn, it could be handicapped (my sister and I were both born Deaf), it could suffer from any number of potential death-related injuries or undergo a fate worse than death.

Some women cry when they hear their baby's heartbeat.  My sister took the opportunity to record the sound of the baby's heartbeat instead.  That's just an indication of how much things have changed since the old days.  People have become so accustomed to taking selfies they're now attempting doing them while driving, when the previous distraction worry was just texting. It's only a matter of time before someone decides to take the ultimate selfie by capturing their birth via cellphone.  Future hospital dialogue would likely be in the vein of "I - ugh - I can see the head!" all while holding the instrument of vanity aimed at their privates.  That'd be an unfortunate home video quite difficult to explain for any unsuspecting soul who'd find it.

On the plus side, my sister's deafness has the unintentional advantage of being unable to hear her child's overnight cries.  That should make sleeping much easier for her.

Even so, I compiled a list of universal constants that, baring a sudden shift in evolution, should withstand the test of time for... a decade or two, assuming humanity lives long enough to survive past then.

You'll attempt to show your favorite children's movies (and pre-screen the latest releases to ensure they're suitable for your kid), but the things children get scared of may not be the same disturbing things seen on the screen.

Your kid will be a constant purveyor of TV shows and movies that'll be watched repeatedly, beyond the scope and limit of what you'd consider reasonably acceptable.

Your kid will not believe that there were novelty comics / books / cartoons / movies that were better than the current stuff, and that the people who created such timeless classics are dead, or about to be dead.

Your kid will develop its own interests, which will drive you nuts, since you'll get repeat requests for toys along those lines.  If you can't provide, you'll have one unhappy customer.

Your kid's interest in these various forms of entertainment will reach fanatical levels that will last a lifetime, or peter out and die, once they've gotten used to the formula, and move on to more stimulating things.

Your kid will suss out the plot points to many old TV shows and movies that existed before their time, in order to catch up on many pop-culture references.  Either through osmosis, word of mouth or a general promiscuity for spoilers.

You will struggle to maintain your opinion from the "helpful" influence of well-meaning friends and family members, who may have conflicting ideas of how to best raise your child.

You will be continuously astounded by how smart and stupid your kid is; retaining astounding amounts of trivia while remaining remarkably ignorant on other issues.

You'll struggle to wrestle your child's attention away from the shiny allure of latest technologies, which they'll instinctively master.

You'll attempt to shield your child from the harsher realities of the world.  Up to a certain point, this will work, but eventually, your kid will find out these things, whether you like it or not.

Your kid will be an adept mimicker, aping aspects of its parents... up to the day it'll rebel and enthusiastically decide NOT to follow in your footsteps.  Enjoy it while you can!

Your kid will ask questions you won't have answers to.

Your kid will attempt to keep secrets from you.  Chances are, you'll find out about these secrets yourself, and you'll be split on deciding to play ignorant, and let your kid think they pulled a fast one on you.  If the situation is serious enough, you'll want to confront your kid over these issues before they become a blown-out problem.

You'll also have to learn about deciding when to give your baby reins of control over your lives, and when to put your foot down, no matter how painful it may be in the short term.  Being a parent means setting rules with boundaries, making sure those rules get enforced, and that there are consequences for breaking them.

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