Children

Seems like everyone around here is talking children. Not so surprising really since one of the women in the department is pregnant and the others are all mothers. The girls in all the classes are fascinated by babies…being pregnant can really get the kids to shut up which is nice.

It’s so strange, being fed all this information about pregnancy; pregnancy is something that I consider a negative thing. It’s not a popular notion I know but my conception of pregnancy is all about pain, awkwardness, dread and children…children being the most negative thing about the situation. I don’t hate all children, just the rude ones, the ones who I seem to be teaching who seem to have no desire to be human.

Pregnant; its a word that I can’t seem to say without a shudder. It used to be that a lot of girls my own age would agree with me, but it seems like their ambition extended to pregnancy at a future time rather than pregnancy not at all as mine seems to.

Its as though everyone wants children, mostly it seems to be men that I speak to who’s desires are wife and children. Perhaps it’s my immaturity that I just don’t get it, you want a wife and children? What for? What do you do with them? I’ve never had this ambition to be with people, or push people into how I want them to be; well except for the egocentricity of teaching, and that’s because I believe perception to be important. Why make more of you?

I don’t want a child, I don’t see anything wrong in other people wanting children; Giggles for example I can really see as a Mum, and I’m saying this about someone I like without the faintest trace of an insult though if it was said about me I’m sure I would take it as one.

There can be better children in the world, there can be better parents than the crop we have now, but I can do better things for that crop of parents and children than become one. I have this feeling that Hemmingway may have said something similar. Of course if I follow Hemmingway’s path of writing, shooting, fishing and lots of sex I don’t have the ability to leave, as he did, hundreds of mistresses popping his sprogs all over the world.

A cynical thought occurs, is that why early 60s and 70s feminists were so bitchy about men like Hemmingway, commitment phobic and selfish to the nth degree? If they tried it they wouldn’t be able to do all of it, ie. there would be nobody left behind of them. Is that why then? The idea of a dynasty of something of you carrying on, some sort of immortality gained via children?

No, there are better things I can do for this world than try for immortality via children.

Someone said that they thought they’d be ‘further on’ than this when they were twenty one. I think thats another reason that pregnancy fills me with dread, there seems to be some idea that this life is a conveyor belt, that we step on at one end and we go through these poses, motions, set pieces and when we have performed our last we drop off the other end without having actually done anything. Pregnancy seems always to me to be one of those set pieces, performed often with no more idea than: this is the next step.

People like Giggles and… in fact Giggles seems to be the only one I can think of right now, who want babies for babies, want them to bring them up and love them, thats different. Thats not a ‘I want a wife and I want children because thats what’s done.’

All the kids at this school wnt babies, a couple of them want them now. Some of the boys admit to it, mostly they are pretneding to be of a Hemmingway disposition. All the girls say is ‘next step: boyfriend, next step: babies’ like well drilled little machines who haven’t the wit to open their brains.

I can’t stand this parrot fashion existence. I’m looking out over a sea of faces who are all mimicking each other without any idea of what they’re mimicking.

15 thoughts on “Children

  1. I don’t think I could ever really have children if I’m honest with myself. I feel like there’s too many things that I need to do that would interfere with raising a beautiful person, and I’d Hate to leave behind a legacy of neglect and resentment.
    I’ve always looked at the people with the conveyor belt mentality and wondered how utterly terrified they must be. I mean, what is it they actually look forward to? A mediocre, bland, average life as human cattle? It seems like it.
    People who want babies to Love them and raise them and make them happy, they have my utmost admiration, but the people who just have them because ‘it’s the thing to do’ have my sympathy, because it’s obvious that for some reason they’ve not thought about what they’re doing.
    I’d rather raise a child that has been orphaned to be honest, make a positive difference in somebody who already exists life.
    I used to live on the Marsh in a cul de sac. There were parents there who couldn’t give two shits about what their children were doing. There seems to be some kind of barrier between people which has a big sign on it saying "LOVE IS WEAKNESS, SHOW NO EMOTION SAVE ANGER AT THE APPROPRIATE TIMES", it was quite upsetting.
    I wish I knew how to change things, but I don’t, I wish you all the luck in your efforts to improve the situation through teaching.

  2. No time now, will rant later:

    "the ones who I seem to be teaching who seem to have no desire to be human."

  3. Yes my birthday is the sixth of January. Strange question Goat. To be honest it’s those kids from families like those you say you’ve observed on the Marsh that make me despair most. They’re the ones who have a desperate wish to ‘be human’, get an education some of them,and they do want to say whatever it is they have to say but they have no idea how to do it. This is true for the majority of adolescents but in cases where the parents never come to school if the kids in trouble, are rarely seen having anything to do with the kid other than shout; thats when the kids at school are trying desperately to express themselves and they can’t do it. They end up shouting angrily at the teacher because they don’t know how to respond to reasonable questions, they don’t understand that any sort of criticism can be constructive. They end up angry or hysterical or crying because they’ve been given no stable emotional base from which to build and they simply don’t know how to be.
    They scare me the most about the idea of having children I suppose, see I don’t get gooey over babies like Giggles does, I don’t go ga-ga over small clothes like the Naiad does, I don’t even use words like sqissy. If I had a child I know I’d end up one of those horrible parents who just tell the child to be quiet and stop bothering me and they’d end up totally emotionally fucked up.

  4. ‘I want a wife and I want children because thats what’s done.’

    That’s a little harsh maybe, and not at all what I meant. I couldn’t care less about what the ‘done’ thing is, but that doesn’t stop me one day wanting to get married and have children. To say that such a desire is solely motivated by it being the norm is kinda offensive to the idea of a proper relationship. Now I know you don’t want to be held down and so on and so forth, but a lot of people, of which I have no shame in saying I am one, are looking for one person to be happy with. Its not that society dictataes that people should be in couples that most do so, its because a lot of people want to be with someone who makes them happy and to be able to make that person equally so, and if that one day leads to marriage and kids and so on thats the way it is.

    As for the being ‘further on’, I didn’t meant it as some form on conveyor belt idea. It is not that there is a timeframe that has to be conformed to, it is just that I had HOPED that I would have been closer to being content than I currently am.

    ‘People like Giggles and… in fact Giggles seems to be the only one I can think of right now, who want babies for babies, want them to bring them up and love them’

    You really think I just want a kid one day to flash around as some kinda status symbol? That kinda smarts…..

  5. Me, I don’t want kids. The idea that I may pass on my peculiar biology and screw up someone’s life scares the livin’ proverbial out of me. But I don’t mind helping raising my friends and family’s kids.

    I have no problem with loving somebody utterly, no matter what, and to be honest, in my opinion that’s what a good parent should do. Note that I said parent – I truly believe that an uncle or an aunt or a friend can be a parent, even if the biological progenitors are terrible at it. Teachers can be parents too – they help raise you, if you respect them.

    And why should anyone want to be immortal, anyway? Does answering a biological imperative make you a robot? There have been kids born like those in the Marsh ever since humans appeared. It’s not a new thing.

    Yet these ‘non-human’ humans are your ancestors, some of them anyway.

    ‘I can’t stand this parrot fashion existence. I’m looking out over a sea of faces who are all mimicking each other without any idea of what they’re mimicking.’

    Erm. So don’t live like that. Live your own life and stop letting other people get to you. Draw the sword of your own Freedom. If you’re ranting about societal pressures, you have a few choices. Endure the pressure and never crack, disappear from that society and go live how you will, or put down those who try to force it upon you.

    Keep that two edged sword drawn, show ’em you’re not afraid to use it, and you’ll be ok.

    Society is screwed in the eyes of every person who /thinks/ purely because it’s a hegemonised collection of people who have given up some of themselves because they are afraid to use the birthright which allows them to exert their own autonomy.

    The thinkers, like you, see the threat of losing themselves. But a lot never realise they can exert that autonomy. You are not weaponless. You cannot keep that autonomy by running, because eventually you’ll run out of road. So, if you’re going to run, run to a strong position, and then start fighting. Otherwise, you’re just choosing to be a slave.

    ‘Freedom is a two edged sword of which one edge is liberty
    and the other responsibility, on which both edges are exceedingly
    sharp; and which is not easily handled by casual, cowardly or
    treacherous hands. For it has been sharpened by many conflicts,
    tempered in many fires, quenched by much blood, and although
    it is always ready for the use of the courageous and high hearted,
    it will not remain when the spirit that forged it is gone.

    Now since all tyrannies are based on dogmas, that is, on
    fundamental statements of absolute fact, and since all dogmas are
    based on lies, it behooves us first to seek for truth, and freedom
    will not be far away. And the truth is that we know nothing.’ – John ‘Jack’ Whiteside Parsons

    Stay sharp Mish, but mind you don’t cut yourself.

  6. Im not trying to be harsh Mish, but your entry upset me – not for my sake, but as a member of the human race kind of thing. But this is a subject on which I would rather be honest then diplomatic; so I will say what i think here, not what i think will be received well.
    People dont want babies because its the thing to do. People want babies for many different reasons.
    First of all, at the most basic level, there is instinct and survival – procreation means the survival of the human race. Instinctively we want babies – would sex need to be an enjoyable act if we did not need to have babies? I doubt it. If nature did not want us to produce, it would not encourage us to do the act which makes us produce.
    So we have the instinct – just like any other animal. But we have evolved since our primal days of eat, sleep, procreate, deficate, die – now we have the concious decision to have babies or to not have babies.
    Some people have babies for the wrong reasons – lack of information on contraception, or the desire to fill a void in their life etc… But mostly people have babies because they want to. They have a desire to produce something wonderful and special, something that they can love and educate; despite the problems of the world, existence is a wonderful thing in which there are many varied experiences – it is natural to want to share those experience with someone. I would love to have a child to watch them experience the wonder of the world for themselves.
    You are training to be a teacher mish, but to be perfectly honest I think that people who do not understand children, or do not understand why people have children should not be teachers, and you are that type of person. To be a teacher you should not just not-dislike childern, you should truely love all children, no matter how rude or bad they are – because you should want to try and teach them and educate them and show them that there are things in this world that they will enjoy – whether they want to learn or not. It is not about making children learn, it is about trying.
    You have said that some of the children you are teaching do not even seem to be human, but to be honest you are the one who seems to be inhuman – not them. You understand nothing about selfless emotion or love, two very human qualities. It is natural for childern to push boundaries, and question whether what they are doing has a point. What you describe as a seeming desire not to be human is in fact the opposite – children are learning to find their place in this world, and while they are doing that they can be very very obnoxious, but that doesnt make them inhuman, it makes them very very human. The inhumanity is in not understanding children.
    I dont think that you could be a good mother because you do not have the capacity for unconditional love, something that is necessary not only to be a mother but to be a good partner as well. Similar qualities are needed to be a teacher, and to be honest, I dont think you have the right qualities for that either. Ive worked alot with children, ive encountered some truely terrible ones – but the point of a mother or teacher is never to give up.
    I am sorry if this is offensive to you, but the way you talk and write about children and people is as if you were an android. Your children arent inhuman Mish, but perhaps you are.

  7. To be a teacher you should not just not-dislike childern, you should truely love all children, no matter how rude or bad they are – because you should want to try and teach them and educate them and show them that there are things in this world that they will enjoy – whether they want to learn or not. It is not about making children learn, it is about trying

    I agree, up to a point.

    However, I think to be a teacher that you shouldn’t necessarily love all children unconditionally (some of them are genuinely little bastards and don’t deserve it – although they are in the minority thankfully – and I’m not the world’s biggest advocate of ‘turn the other cheek’ and ‘love thy neighbour’)

    You should (in fact, to be a teacher, I’d go so far as to say must) be able to make the effort to understand all children.

    Understanding doesn’t require love (in fact a bit of distance does the world of good at times). But in itself, it makes as big a difference as love would. Teenagers don’t want to be loved by their teachers, but they do want to be understood. They want their points of view to be respected as valid and their ideas to be given the respect and credit they deserve.

  8. Ok. Lots to think about.

    ‘People want babies for many different reasons.’ Yes of course, my entry is about how a lot of people, mainly it has to be said adolescents, have presented their desire for babies to me lately. ‘My life is going to be like this I will get married, I will have babies’ or ‘my life is going to be like this I’m going to have loads of women and probably have to pays lots of childcare’.

    Obviously people change as they grow older but I talk to men in the staffroom who’re in their early twenties and thirties; ‘oh yeah, well I really want to get married…obviously my wife will want kids.’, ‘soon as I find someone who wants commitment I’m going to buy a house and have children’. The babies are just part of what will happen, they’re part of the house and the car and the wife, theres no thought there about having this other person suddenly there, this other human being sharing your life.

    So no, you’re right, I don’t understand people like that who want babies because thats what happens. They do exist; it may well be because I’m working in a school that the majority of the people I converse with about babies are teenagers who, perhaps haven’t got mature reflective responses to such things, but all the way up there are people who don’t think about babies as babies but as part of some all engrossing thing-that-happens.

    ‘They have a desire to produce something wonderful and special, something that they can love and educate; despite the problems of the world, existence is a wonderful thing in which there are many varied experiences – it is natural to want to share those experience with someone. I would love to have a child to watch them experience the wonder of the world for themselves.’
    No. They are your reasons, people have children for a whole variety of reasons that have to do with the child, themselves, the world around them. The kids who I am seeing every day certainly haven’t got to that stage with wanting babies, they haven’t even figured out that they are experiencing the world for themselves yet. (never mind figured out their experiences!)

    Your reasons are good, they’re the closest I’ve ever seen anybody get to reasons for wanting a baby that mean something to me. There are too many experiences in this world for one person to have alone and death comes to steal us away from them at the very last second. But whats the value of sharing these experiences with a child, so that that child may have them at second hand when they should be out exploring for themselves?

    You’re right I don’t understand children, I don’t understand adults either. I am, however, fascinated by them, the social interactions, the wants and angers, the curtoms and codes and how they eventually become what is determined adult behaviour.

    Now I did not say that the children I am teaching are not human. What I did say was that they didn’t want to be human. And a fair few of them don’t. What I mean by human is giving and taking and thinking. I don’t give a toss about whether they’re testing my boundaries or not but I want them to think whilst their doing it. What a the kids I’m referring to want, and they’d agree with me on this, I asked a couple today, is to sit on their arses, eat, shag, mess about, have a few cans and never have to do anything that requires any more thought. That, to me, is not my definition of human. To want to be human is to want to do something, throw a party, trash the school, research physics. These kids who do not want to experience anything oher than what they have experienced before, these kids who associate any form of mental thought with school (eg. boy in sweet shop aged about 12 is asked by father how much he has spent on sweets "Awww Daaad! I’m not at schoool!") they do not want to tbe human they would rather be animals preferably never told to do anything but doing whatever they’re told.

    You think I have a problem with children testing boundaries? No, they’re usually the ones who’ve made my day hell on earth but the children I have a problem with are the ones who have no desire to do anything.

    You say I talk and write like an android about children. An interesting point, would I care so much, get so frustrated and upset if I were an android? An interesting take. You’ve worked a lot with children Giggles, but then so have I and I don’t have the patience for the younger ones I admit. I certainly don’t love them all unconditionally and if I did that love would not be welcomed. Children need to be loved, thats true and if they’re not getting it at home then they need to get it from somewhere. But an art teachers classroom is not where you find love, not where you can go for the equivalent of a cuddle when something goes wrong in your life.

    When they get to High School or Secondary School or whatever you want to call it school should be somewhere safe that you can try and find your place in, somewhere that you can put forward your ideas to see what happens. And if your teacher responds to your ideas you can be safe behind the knowledge that its not because she loves you, because she’s trying to make you feel better, but because they were good ideas. Because you can do this stuff on your own terms and you don’t need to hide behind someone else’s security blanket.

    I expect a lot from most of my pupils, but I don’t expect more than they can give me. Why should these kids be satisifed by wanting to be less than human, to be someone that other people can order around or ignore. If they want children I want them to want them, not to not have thought about it. I want these kids to think and don’t any of you dare tell me that they aren’t capable of it, they aren’t rewarded often for thought, they’re rewarded for performing and as a result they perform in life as well because thats how they think they fit in. Well I’m not having it, I don’t care if they can’t recognise the difference between a Kandinsky and a Raphael by the time I’m through but if they can’t tell me which one they like and why they like it then I’ll be upset.

    And no, most of them can’t at the moment, mostly their own opinions have been successfuly squashed by home and school and all the rest of it. ‘Which one do you prefer?’ the response is ‘which one’s the right answer?’

    Giggles I want these kids to be able to use some part of their brain, I want to get rid of this damn desire of theirs to be inhuman but I don’t have to love them to do it.

  9. You want children to do as you say Mish, you dont wnt them to learn. The children who seem unresponsive to you may be brilliantly responsive in other classes.
    Im tired of this argument, but im ging to go on anyway because you just arent getting my point – youre looking at the words and not the meaning.
    You dont get people. You dont try to get people. You are inhuman.
    I dit mean love in a family way n reference to teachers. I meant love as a human being – you dont love anyone and thats why you dont get it.
    Either join the human race, or stop making judgemnets on a way of life you dont know and dont want to know. Go be a hermit.

  10. Well, I’m agreeing with Mish on this after spending time watching kids (and a fair few adults too actually) do the same thing day in-day out, never experiencing anything new, never learning, happy in their ignorant cocoons.
    They just want to be Prozac people, told what is right and wrong without finding out for themselves. They follow the path of least resistance.
    And they’re really bored with their lives.
    Which is funny, because if they just did something, they wouldn’t be bored.
    Ah well, big circle of boredom and apathy.

  11. Giggles, I am more than happy to continue a reasoned argument with you over this subject. I am well aware that your views differ from mine on the and I am happy for them to do so.

    I am also aware that you’re judging my teaching ability from my moaning and whinging at home rather than by ever having seen me in a classroom situation or working with adolescents, this is obviously going to give you a biased angle.

    By all means try to change my mind if by reading my diary entries you think you should. Please remember though that my diary is where I write down my musings, my thoughts and my opinons rather than my seat from which I judge other people, decreeing to the world what it should think.

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