I have never wanted kids. I just have never had a fondness for them. That’s not to say I hate kids, but kids feel as if they can completely be themselves around me because I am not parental or authoritative in my demeanor, i.e. kids behave badly around me. I guess that might be a reason why kids have always liked me, and I guess that’s why people in my family always had to give kids some version of a “Ren really is an adult, so you need to treat her like one” speech. So, because I have older sisters who have done the typical married-with-children thing, I have been fighting kids off with an invisible bat since I was about 13 or 14. Kids think I am fun and funny, and I always have stuff that they like. So, I can’t figure out how to get them to leave me alone.
Don’t worry–I’m never having kids. I know I have no business with any! Too many people don’t know that about themselves, though.
One of the reasons I don’t want kids is because it’s too much work and too much responsibility for me. I look at my sisters, and I just cannot imagine living the kind of lives they live. I don’t mean that in an insulting way. But if I were given two choices–to live the life I currently live or to be married with kids–I’d choose the life that I currently whine about on this blog, i.e. the life where I have all these expensive degrees that I don’t/can’t use, owe all this money, live at home with my parents in a city I don’t like and work a job where I’m bored and make peanuts. The way the majority of adult women live simply isn’t for me, that’s all. And I’ve realized it’s not even just about kids–I think I generally have anxiety when it comes to responsibility, at least in terms of tasks (and yes, I am the “baby” in my family). This is why I don’t run my own business, why I tend not to take initiative with things and why I tend to only want raises and not promotions.
Unfortunately, because I am related to one of the many people in the world who didn’t seem to understand that she had no business having kids–and her excuse for a husband likewise seemed not to understand this about himself–I am now in the position to have a hand in some kid being my responsibility.
I don’t know if I can articulate how uncomfortable responsibility makes me in a lot of cases. At work, it’s usually a scared sort of flipping out; at home, it’s usually an angry sort of flipping out. When I used to babysit, it would be more of a scared flipping out, though. So, imagine how I feel when I’m given other people’s responsibilities.
See, one of my nieces has moved in with my parents and me. Really, she was kicked out of her house. In most ways, she’s a normal teenager. So, she didn’t really do anything all that unusual to warrant being kicked out of the house. Her mother (my sister) and her stepfather are just, very frankly, fucked in the head, that’s all. My father has very little to do with my sister because of this, and I have very little to do with her because of this. My other sister doesn’t live in our city, so that kind of solves having anything to do with her. My mother is the only person who hasn’t known how to let go, but I think that’s changing, especially after this stuff with my niece being kicked out for no real reason.
My family is not at all full of geniuses. But my parents have worked as educators, and my closest aunt and uncle work as educators. I’m the best-educated person in my family on paper, having attended–what I call–an Ivy-Like university and a Public Ivy university, as well as earning a law degree. So, I never thought I’d be related to someone whom most people would consider dumb.
People, I’m not a politically correct person–my niece is dumb. I’ve known this for a long time, but now that she lives with me…wow.
My father still teaches at a college, even though he’s technically retired, so he is not shocked by my niece. No one in my family really seems to be shocked by it, except for me. My father sees it all the time–very dumb people who somehow make it through high school and into college. “Dumb” means they can’t read, the way they text and write on Facebook is the way they write school papers and school presentations, they cannot speak standard English or speak with any semblance of good diction/enunciation, they can’t think critically and they don’t know school basics. Obviously, I knew that my niece speaks like crap and writes like crap, but I didn’t know she couldn’t read or that she is learning absolutely nothing at school but is somehow passing on to the next grade most years (not every year, though). She’s either a sophomore in high school or a junior in high school…really can’t tell because she has failed a couple of classes.
I now know that she can’t read because one of the ways in which I’ve grudgingly become responsible for her, being known as the most intelligent person in the family, is by having to come home from work and “help” her with her homework. I was not asked to do this. This has been forced on me. And you have to understand something–you’re talking about an average Joe expected to do something that really can’t be done by an average Joe. That is, my niece, having gotten as far as she has and being as bad off as she is academically, is way beyond just typical help with homework that you’d give a kid or teenager. The girl…can’t…read. She is in Spanish 2 and she gets all this Spanish homework, but she doesn’t…know…any…Spanish. Of course, no one else in my family knows any Spanish, except for me and my sister who doesn’t even live around here.
She needs professional help at this point. Honestly, she needed professional help years ago. Of course, no one wanted to pay for this professional help years ago when my parents knew she needed it, and no one wants to pay for it now. Money is not an issue for my parents. But these are people who have no problem with heading to the casino 2 or 3 times a week to throw away at least $100 each time, and they say, “It’s not my responsibility.” So, somehow, that makes it mine?
And it’s not, but I’d still pay to send my niece to Sylvan if I could afford it and if she could get to/from Sylvan (which, I can’t help with either of those things). I would much rather do that than spend 9+ hours away from home at work/in traffic and then be expected to come home and do some teenager’s homework. Because with someone this far gone, you can’t “help” them with their work–someone else either basically has to do it or it won’t get done. And doing my niece’s homework has been my parents’ answer for so long that now there is no hope that she can just sit down and do it herself. If she can’t read, she can’t do her homework. My parents just want her to pass. They are not necessarily concerned with her learning or developing the skills she’s lacking.
I don’t know if you think I’m selfish or not. But 1) I do not believe in doing other people’s work–and I am referring both to my niece’s homework and to the fact that my sister is the one who is supposed to have this burden; 2) I don’t have kids and never will have kids in part because I do not want the kind of life where I have to spend all day at work and then come home and deal with kids, kids’ homework and all that stuff; 3) I don’t like drama, and years of drama related to my sister truly makes me wish she and her entire family would disappear because I’m tired of all of that. Furthermore, my niece is not that different from her mother. They are both the type of people whom, every time you turn around, it’s something. I don’t want to deal with that.
If these things make me selfish, then I’m selfish and smart at the same time…because I’m not one of those dumb parents who actually has kids they don’t want to come home and deal with and, thus, won’t come home and deal with.
See, it’s not my niece’s fault that she’s dumb. And America’s most ignorant is not just all these dumb kids who are in high school and college and who will someday take this nation down to even lower depths than we’re currently experiencing. A pretty good percentage of America’s ignorant people are today’s parents (and today’s school administrators/teachers).