Apathy Jack writes:
Long term. Pleased it's over. There's some insufferably long seige metapor that I can't be bothered developing which would sum up the last several months, but I've already broken my self-imposed for-god's-sake-at-least-try-to-make-it-interesting rule enough times this year.
Long, long term.
Back in 2002 - a couple of blogs ago - I wrote something about children. I can't do a direct link, so I'll just copy it down here:
Never wanted kids.
Actually, that’s not strictly true; When I was one myself, I always just assumed I would have some, because, hell, that’s what grown-ups did. However, after I started to give some thought to it, it started looking like a pretty poor option almost immediately.
A few of the reasons, in no particular order:
The time commitment is horrifying. I mean, we’re talking at least 18 years. And that’s if they’re in a mood to fuck off after high school. My parents didn’t get rid of me until just shy of my twenty-second birthday, and they had to sell the house and move to Australia to make it happen. And hell, just because your kids aren’t in the next room, they’re still your problem. I’m twenty five years old, I’m a teacher, I am one of the most grown up people I know. But if I run out of money these holidays, guess where I’m running to… Which brings me to;
Good lord have you seen how much money dependants hoover up? I mean, fuck, I can just about afford rent, food and the odd cd. I can’t afford summer clothes for myself. The idea of having to support another human being who needed food, clothes and cigarettes... It’s the difference between being able to afford what you want, or what your kids want. For someone quite as selfish as me(mememe) that’s not the hardest choice in the world.
When kids are little, they just kind of crap all over the show and make noise. Then they turn into teenagers. Now, speaking as an industry insider, teenagers are surly little bastards who spend waaay to much of their free time drinking and having dangerous sex just to piss off the people who spend all of their time and money supporting them. If I wanted a prick with an attitude problem to spend my money, use my things, take up my time, and then give me strife about it, I’d still be living with my first flatmate. The fact that I’m not should be taken as a signpost.
I am basically a good person – my parents did a decent job on me and my brother. But you know, I really can’t remember how. I don’t have the confidence that I could raise any child of mine to be a good person. How could I guarantee that my child wouldn’t become part of the problem? Short answer; I couldn’t. What if my kid became a surly bullying fuckup because I dropped the ball somewhere along the way. And that’s only their personality – What if they were born with messed up wiring, or they got sick, or even died? How would I cope? (Fairly badly, is the answer that anyone who knows me well would come up with I think.)
Every time I have thought about having children, I have come up with more and more reasons to not have any. The idea that anyone might actually want these little parasites actually became quite confusing to me.
Anyhoo, we had a school outing to the water park today. I planted myself on a chair with a book, and growled at any students who asked me why I wasn’t swimming.
As I was reading, I heard a series of short, high-pitched shrieks. They echoed in quick succession from one of the hydro slide tubes.
Well before the source came flying out, I knew who it was; One of my Year 9s. I recently wrote on her report that she is infectiously enthusiastic. She follows me around the classroom getting me to help her with the work. She is in running competition to clean my whiteboard. She constantly sings top twenty songs during class. Drives her classmates nuts, but I find it so endearing that I don’t stop her, even when I’m yelling at the rest of the class to quieten down. Even the bad songs are cute.
Looking up, and seeing this girl coming off the slide, with such a look of happiness on her face, laughing and smiling, I just wanted to adopt her. Really, that was the first thought in my head.
Then, for the first time in my life, I realised what parents feel. I realised that all of the effort, the trials, the pain, they are voided by the happiness in the eyes of your child. Everything I’ve ranted on about above, it’s all valid. But seeing the happiness on your child’s face makes it all worthwhile. All of it.
Maybe I want kids one day.
The kid from the water slide is in Year 13 now - only a couple of months away from leaving school. She's never stopped being special. At the beginning of this year when we weren't sure if she was coming back from the Islands, we kept a couple of prestigious student leadership positions open - turning away others who applied - on the off chance of her return. When she arrived a few weeks into term one, she walked into places she had earned.
I taught her again in Year 10, the year after I wrote the above piece, but lost her the next. I kept an eye - family issues and numerous related trips out of the country meant that she fell behind and had to repeat a year of English. In a department with a staff turnover quite so cartoonishly high as mine, I simply checked in from time to time to make sure that she was still going well, that the many relievers and incompetent cases standing at the front of the class weren't having too adverse an effect on her education.
A few days back, she auditioned for the most prestigious drama school in the country. The drama teacher told me that I had to ask her about the audition - there was something I should probably hear, but the kid herself should tell me. I tracked her down, and asked, hoping for news that the panel had said something encouraging. She told me what had happened: During a scene where she had to act betrayed, the panel told her to picture her favorite teacher - someone she could never imagine working against her, and try to twist the image to see what it would feel like if he or she betrayed her.
Apparently it was almost impossible to imagine me betraying her, but it made the scene very emotional.
Long term. But I think that one will get me through for a while...