Oh, Baby, by Kiki Clark
“Ever since my girlfriend had her adorable little girl, I’ve been having baby dreams,” I confessed to my friend. He had come into town for a quick business trip, but now his laptop and suitcase sat by the door. We were chatting over breakfast tea as we waited for his college-aged daughter to call and tell him she was ready to have her wireless installed. Outside, a fine, steady snow fell. I felt the need to clarify. “In the dreams, it’s never a baby I personally had. It’s always one that someone gives me, or I find, or rescue. Sometimes from dogs.”
“Well, you’re not too old. Plenty of people have babies at our age.” He is four years younger and far more fit. I’m a writer, and get my exercise from shouting at my computer screen. “What about Joe?” he asked, referring to my husband.
“Oh, he’d be perfectly willing. But neither of us feels that strongly about it. I’ve told him that at my age, if he really wants a kid, we could adopt a Chinese toddler and bypass all that pregnancy and diaper business. But he’s not interested in adoption. It’s pride of ownership, I guess. That and the fact that it’s so much cheaper to make your own.” I took a sip of Genmaicha. “It seems like there’s more to worry about, bringing up a child these days. I have a friend who got a call from another concerned parent – some girl was spreading rumors that my friend's daughter was spending her $400-a-month, anti-depressant allowance on cocaine. My friend said she panicked for just a second before she remembered she didn’t give her kid $400 a month for anything, not to mention that she wasn’t on any prescription medication. Turns out this other girl spread the identical rumor about a bunch of her so-called friends. Another mother I know was told her son had to go to the delinquent’s school because he passed out flyers for his band on school property. So he had to spend a week and a half with the kids who wave guns around class and threaten to rape teachers.”
My friend shook his head. “It’s a lot of work. But for every negative, there are plenty of positives. You have to look at the added value to your life. And it’s really only the first three to five years that are the hardest. After that they’re in pre-school or kindergarten, and you have six hours a day all to yourself.” He laughed. “Then you can catch up on the sleep you missed.”
“Six whole hours, huh?” I sometimes don't start work until I've been up for six hours, and my schedule as a whole is very flexible. Joe and I attended a James Bond party last weekend and stayed up until two o’clock in the morning. There was a lot of champagne. I spent the entire evening speaking in a Russian accent and telling fortunes. “Our life is so easy. It’s nice to have the luxury of saying, ‘Oh, should we have a baby?’ as if it’s similar to selling the house and living abroad for a couple years. But a child is such a responsibility. Even after they leave home, you’re still a parent. You’re a parent for the rest of your life.”
“That’s true, but you see a lot less of them after they turn eighteen.” His cell phone rang. “Hello?” He listened for a minute before speaking. “What lane are you in? Uh-huh. Well, just put the hazard lights on and walk to the gas station. Yes, they’ll have containers. What? All right. How about I meet you there?” He hung up.
“Your daughter ran her car out of gas?” I guessed.
He smiled. “Added value.”
I hugged him goodbye at the door, then watched as he carried his bags through the snow. In another month, I’ll be babysitting my friend’s adorable child for the first time. She may giggle the whole visit (her usual state) or she may scream. Either way, it’s only for a couple hours.