What I Don’t Get About Child-Free People

I think it’s perfectly fine not to have children if you don’t feel like it. No other reason or justification is needed. If you don’t feel like having them, then don’t. It makes you an honest, strong-minded person who doesn’t bow to societal pressures and just does whatever s/he feels like. Perfect!

What I find very disturbing, though, is when people fashion some kind of an identity out of something they say they have no interest in doing. To give an example, I’m a blogger. That’s a huge part of my identity because I spend a lot of time blogging. I don’t garden, however. It would be kind of freaky for me to create an identity for myself based on not gardening and to write endless passionate posts and articles about how gardening sucks and all people who garden are deluded.

The child-free folks, though (not to be confused with those who are simply childless, like myself), spend a lot of time and energy decrying the horrors of an activity they say they don’t want to participate in and making wild and unflattering generalizations about those who do want to participate in it. Here is the most recent example I encountered:

I think when most women imagine having a baby, they romanticize it, thinking of their perfect, adorable Kodak moments. I do not. . . To me, having a baby means misery, poverty, missed opportunities, burden, servitude, restriction, and a ruined life. My view might not be common, or if it is, it’s not much talked about, but I know that I am not alone.

Anybody is completely entitled to envision having children as “misery, poverty, etc.” What I find hard to comprehend, though, is why this belief has to be accompanied by a ridiculous generalization about the stupidity of “most women” who only think of Kodak moments and can’t even imagine what the reality of having children means. Why such intense disrespect for so many women? (Men are not mentioned at all here. Probably this blogger believes that women reproduce through parthenogenesis.) Why not choose, instead, to give people who want kids (as well as people who don’t)  the benefit of the doubt and proceed from the assumption that they know what they are doing?

Whenever I talk to a child-free person, I always notice that they talk about babies a lot more than even the most obsessed parents. (Also, baby poop tends to feature prominently in those conversations, which makes a lot of sense psychoanalytically.) They go on and on about how all of those people who have children are completely insane and how their lives must be totally and hopelessly ruined. After a while of listening to this “parenthood is such a nightmare” whining, I begin to think that this seemingly ideological child-free position is nothing but a huge case of sour grapes.

People who are completely sure of an important life decision they made will never spend a moment defending it. Because whenever you feel the need to defend it, it’s not “society” you are talking to. It’s that nasty little voice in your head telling you that probably your decision was a mistake.

The Ultimate in Helicoptering Parenthood

We have all heard of helicopter parents who persecute college professors with questions about why their little treasure isn’t doing as well as he or she deserves. But have you ever heard of a helicopter parent who calls a job recruiter and berates her for not getting back to her son soon enough?

This morning, my sister arrived at her office and discovered a 5-minute-long message from an irate Mommy who is upset with how her son’s job search is progressing. The Mommy obviously thinks her son is the center of the universe not only for her but also for professional job recruiters, so she never identified herself or her son by name. But she did use the words “my son” about 30 times.

What’s next, I wonder? Parent-recruiter nights? Recruiter report cards?

Dear helicoptering Mommies and Daddies! If you just can’t force yourselves to let go of your little angels before college, maybe you can at least let them start managing their own lives after they graduate and begin looking for jobs? In a city where everybody knows everybody else, you are really destroying your children’s chances of ever getting taken seriously if you keep following them around, defending them from bad, mean, nasty adults.

Whose Analysis?

Since everybody says they like my teaching stories more than any other type of posts, here is the most recent one.

Student (irritably): So you just said we can’t copy any stuff from the Internet into our essays. And we also shouldn’t copy what you said in class. Then what’s left to write about? If it isn’t online and it isn’t what you said, what else is there?

Me: You are supposed to offer your own analysis of the two texts in question.

Student: MY analysis?

Me: Yes.

Student (completely seriously): Why can’t I just offer your analysis instead?

New and Vastly Improved

So can you guess where I’m writing this post from?

Right you are! This my first dispatch from the newly refurbished office. And I have to tell you, people, it’s a thing of beauty. I now want to change my entire wardrobe to look as expensive as this office does.

As soon as I planted myself behind the new desk, a student came in to talk to me. And I was finally able to offer him a seat and sit facing him. And the student had a place to put his papers.

I have a feeling I will create some amazing research in this office. My heart is beating very fast and I have tears in my eyes because this office makes me feel so cool, professional, intellectual, and important.

I still haven’t received my stuff from storage and I need to buy some beautiful office supplies to decorate the office. Then, I will post pictures. Prepare yourselves to be stunned.

Teaching Without PowerPoint

So today I decided to override the wishes of the students and give an old-fashioned lecture. The one where you stand in front of the classroom and speak and sometimes write things on the board with chalk.

And I have to say that it was a strangely exhilarating experience. It also seemed to impress the students a lot. I saw an emotional response on their faces (I was talking about World War I). And after the end of the class, two students came up to me to ask what I was teaching next semester. Three other students approached me to say how much they enjoyed the class.

I’m a huge fan of technology and all but I have to admit that this got me thinking.

Students claim they love PowerPoint. But do they really?

The Weirdest Conference

FSP suggested that people share stories of the weirdest thing that ever happened to them at a conference.

My weirdest conference experience took place at the very first international conference I ever participated in. I was young, and this conference was a really big deal for me. Several leading scholars in my field whose names I always encountered in my textbooks were sitting in the first row.

I spent weeks polishing the talk, and it came out pretty good. Later, it got published, so obviously it wasn’t bad.

However, delivering the talk at the conference turned out to be a very dramatic experience. When I was about halfway done, an old professor (OP, for short) who’d been huffing, puffing and raising his brows in indignation really lost it.

“I don’t know what this senorita thinks she’s doing,” OP announced in a booming voice. “But this talk is crap.”

After which he threw his pencil at me.

My professor (MP, for short) who’d brought us to the conference and felt responsible for us flared up.

“What the hell are you doing, throwing pencils at my students?” he inquired in an even more booming voice. “Go throw some pencils at your own students. Oh, wait, none of your students are presenting. Maybe that’s because they are stupid.”

“My students are stupid?” OP bellowed. “They are miles smarter than this senorita.” And he pointed a finger at me.

I didn’t really see myself as a senorita in that context but, rather, as an esteemed colleague, so I decided to break up the fight.

“After we heard this fascinating exchange of opinions,” I said, “we should turn back to the autobiographical work of Juan Goytisolo.”

After the panel ended, my friend and I went outside and encountered OP and MP screaming at each other.

“Like I don’t know that you were the one who wrote this talk and gave it to this student to read!” OP vociferated.

“Oh, like you don’t know that I never in my life worked on this writer,” MP yelled back. “You are an old fool!”

My friend and I felt like the whole thing was getting too boring, so we went to a nearby bar to wait for the next panel.

A few glasses of wine and some really great jamon serrano later, my friend and I tipsily stumbled out of the bar. OP and MP were still standing outside, yelling at each other.

“I still remember what jerk you were back in grad school!” OP screamed.

“Oh, like you weren’t?” MP yelled back. “I still remember that time when…”

My friend and I looked at each other and went back to the bar.

In the evening, we were having drinks at the restaurant of our conference center (this was taking place in Spain, so wine was ubiquitous) when a hopelessly drunk OP stumbled into a chair next to us.

“So girls,” he asked playfully, “where are you spending the night?”

“Not anywhere close to you!” my friend answered and we left.

Later during that conference, OP ran off with a grad student, while MP was left consoling his weeping wife.

Deodorants and Autism

Somebody alighted on my blog via the following search:

link between deodorants and autism

My response to this weird creature is: just get a grip, buddy. As somebody from a family with generations of hereditary autism and absolutely no deodorants till very recently, I can tell you there is no link.

What next, autism being “caused” by vaccines?

There is all kinds of stupid in the world.

You Know Who Hates the Hook-up Culture?

People who suck in bed. And not in a good way.

These are the folks who don’t want their partners to have the freedom of running away as fast as their lousy bed skills warrant. This is why they whine that nobody will buy their cow when the milk is free. To develop the ugly cow metaphor, the problem with the milk isn’t really that it’s free. The problem is that it’s of really low quality. The lousy lovers, however, want to get as many guarantees as possible that people will come back for their rancid milk and pay a good price for it before dispensing their worthless wares.

Of course, nobody wants to recognize that their hook-ups evaporate from their beds the first chance they get because sex with them is bad. It’s easier to blame the permissive society for that.

This is not a gender issue, in case anybody is confused about it. There is an equal number of men and women who complain about the fact that, nowadays, you can’t tie down a partner and obligate them to tolerate you in perpetuity just because you offered them some lousy sex at some point in time.

P.S. Note that the post title says “hates” and not “doesn’t feel like participating.” Please take a moment to consider the difference before leaving angry comments about there being nothing wrong with being in an exclusive committed relationship.