Journal entry: February 26, 2007 (age 37) – Humorist’s Decision
Every time I go to a doctor’s appointment, I kick myself for not bringing something to read. The magazines in the waiting room are usually out of date and focused on my least favorite things in life: NASCAR, travel to places I will never be able to afford, and crochet.
Waiting for my appointment today, I had just resigned myself to a long stretch of staring at framed string art when a woman next to me asked me for the time. She seemed as eager to pass the aforementioned time as I was, so we started a conversation. Soon, we were talking about her family. The offered billfold showed me some photos of her grandchildren. I, of course, commented on how cute the children were. They really were cute, and as we all know, this response is required by the Budapest Round of the International Treaty for the Reassurance of Older Relatives that Their Genes are Just Fine.
Now that we had bonded over a discussion about her family, the conversation turned to mine. When I said that I was the youngest of six boys, the woman’s eyes lit up. “How wonderful!” I paused for the briefest of moments, and then said, “Yes, it is, I suppose.” Usually people reacted to the “six boys” factoid with an expression of deepest sympathy for my “poor, poor mother.” But, since I am, by necessity, a huge proponent of my parents’ decision to not stop at five offspring, I found I could get behind this newly-presented viewpoint as well.
“Are you married?” my new friend asked. I said that I was. “For how long?” she queried. I told her we had recently celebrated our 8th anniversary. Now leaning in towards me, as though I was on the verge of being admitted into a very special club, she gave me a nodding smile and said, “Children?” I said that Amanda and I don’t have kids, nor plans for any. A slight tilt of the woman’s head was followed by a sincerely puzzled response.
“Why don’t you like children?”
It took a few moments for me to absorb the question. I forced a smile, assured her that we do love children, and steered the conversation back to the adorable things her grandchildren had done lately. Happily, a nurse with a clipboard soon appeared and said, “Mollen: baby-hater?” (Or at least that’s how I remember it.)
I think I made the right decision by not getting into an airing of my personal views with a stranger. But it might have been fun to ask this stranger stranger some questions. (1) “Why does a decision to not have children mean that the person doesn’t like kids?” (2) “Should everyone have children, even if they don’t have the financial, physical, or psychological resources to ensure that those children are raised well?” (3) “Does my wife (who doesn’t want children) get a vote?” And finally, my favorite: (4) “Do I know you?”
For my next doctor visit, I am SO bringing a book. I’m thinking Cheaper by the Dozen.