Renee is still on blog vacation, but while your favorite blogger is away, there's no need to give up on the written word altogether, for lo, I have come to stimulate your brains and melt your hearts within arm's reach of the degree to which you are accustomed. For those of you who don't know me (I'm betting that's all but one or two of you, my name is Jason, and I've known Renee for about ten years (that can't be right, can it?). In those ten years, I've quit writing several blogs after one or two posts, I've hung a degree in Self-Indulgent Studies on my wall, and I've moved to the suburbs of Phoenix with my partner, Matt, along with a gleeful puppy and a lethargic, middle-aged cat. It's no wonder that Renee tapped me to fill in for her at her blog on parenting and other childrenly delights. You have to admit, based on the credentials listed above, I am the best man for the job. Actually, the genius of her choice (made out of desperation, perhaps, but still a choice!) will soon become apparent.
I know that many of you out there are mommyblog connoisseurs, and I'm aware that most of you navigate to these types of blogs with certain expectations in mind. Namely, you want real stories about real parents, you want those word-for-word accounts of adorable bath-time conversations, you want validation for your sketchy parenting skills, and most of all you want to hear about the kids. That's right. You want those kids, and you want 'em cute: Dimples. Freckles. Lisps. The works. And, of course, I know what all of you out there know about yourselves; I know that none of you can go more than a couple of days without a good dump—a photo dump, that is. It's not enough to simply read about another family's trials and triumphs. We need evidence—vibrant, colorful, and hopefully high-resolution evidence. So, in the proud tradition of the eminent mommyblogger Renee, I am more than happy to oblige with a mini-dump of my own widdle darlings*:
Wicket sticks his landing. Cat is up next.
Cat and Wicket: Nuts for Nature
Wicket searching for the biggest daddy owange. His words.
*Seriously, I don't really think of my pets as children. That's for creepy old cat ladies and empty-nesters. And that's okay. They need that.
With the mini-dump out of the way, I'd like to spend a few moments speaking to you as seriously as I can (so not very seriously at all) about a subject I know next to nothing about—parenting. Matt and I have been together for several years now, and we've reached the point in our lives at which each of us has pretty much got his act together. Now we're starting to think about what might be next. Every once in a while the subject of kids comes up, and the conversation consistently goes something like this:
Matt: Do you think you might ever want to adopt or do foster care?
Me: Uh . . . Like when?
Matt: I don't know. In the future.
Me: Uh. Outlook fuzzy. Ask again later.
I added that Magic 8-Ball part to make me sound cuter and cleverer than I actually am. What really happens is that I start to say nothing in particular, and then I just trail off. That's an equally effective stalling strategy, if you're in the market for one. But seriously, OUTLOOK FUZZY. I don't know if I want kids or what sort of parent I would be. Would I be a strict dad? Lenient dad? Leather dad? I really can't say. The closest thing to parenthood I've experienced is pet ownership (remind me not to write that on an adoption application). That raises an interesting point, though. Maybe I'm better prepared than I think I am. If Cat and Wicket were kids instead of animals would our lives really be any different? Let's explore this . . .
First off, I think we should keep the ages the same, so Wicket would be about a year old, and Cat would be nine. I think I should give myself a pat on the back right off the bat because the fact that Cat would have survived to the age of nine is evidence of at least baseline parental competence on my part (Or if we're counting in kitty years, then he survived into adulthood. Bonus!). My job would be far from done, however. Parenting involves more than just keeping your kids alive, probably.
Of course, the kids wouldn't go to school; they would be home-taught. Subjects would include eating, napping, pooping, and scrapping, to name a few.
The kids would be left alone for hours at a time, often into the evening hours. Sometimes we would remember to leave a light on for the kids, but most of the time we would forget. It would be all right, though. After spending an hour or so in the dark, the kids would probably just fall asleep. If we were to find, upon returning home, that Wicket had peed on the floor or soiled a rug while we were out, affection would be withheld from the one-year-old for at least an hour.
At lunchtime, the sound of an aluminum can opening would trigger a memory deep in Cat's mind of the time eight years earlier when he was allowed to taste a small amount of tuna, and he would jump up on the countertop in search of a handout. Remembering that Cat is terrified of plastic garbage bags, I would take one out of the cabinet and chase him out of the kitchen while rustling it wildly.
Because of Wicket's penchant for strewing toilet paper all over the house, bathrooms would be off-limits to him. All pees and poops would be made in the backyard and sometimes during walks to the park. Cat would have no interest in the bathroom. Observing a habit developed early in life, Cat would take all of his ones and twos in a box in the corner. I might forget to clean the box for a couple of days, so the smell of Cat's business might linger longer than Wicket's.
After nine years of living with Cat, I would have developed the desire for him to like me, thus I would allow him to sleep at the foot of our bed every night. Having not developed the desire to be liked by Wicket in the year since his birth, he would not be allowed to sleep in the bed. Despite his best efforts to nuzzle lovingly between Matt and I, Wicket would be thrown, pushed, or kicked off of the bed repeatedly until he finally resigned himself to sleeping on the floor.
Matt and I are not nudists, but our children would be. Cat and Wicket would have never shown the desire to wear clothes, and they would not be forced. At Christmas, Wicket might wear a tiny sweater with a snowman on it but still no pants. Cat would resist any attempt to place plush reindeer antlers on his head for a family photo and would eventually scratch one of us with the claw-like nails that he would never allow us to trim.
Cat would refuse to speak, and it would be unclear as to whether or not he actually could. Wicket would show no signs of acquiring language either, although he would occasionally bark at Cat or strangers.
Wicket would rarely bathe. He would have to turn a different color entirely before a bath would be warranted. Cat would continuously refuse baths throughout his childhood, but would meet us halfway by agreeing to lick himself all over until slightly less grubby.
Finally, we would occasionally cave in to Wicket's whimpering under the dinner table and slip him what Matt and I would jokingly refer to as “people” food. Wicket would quickly devour it, and why not? It wouldn't be every day that he would have the opportunity to enjoy food that wasn't 5 percent ash.
Well, this was a fun exercise, but I'm no closer to figuring out whether or not I'd be a decent dad. Maybe I can keep stalling for a couple more years. Or perhaps I can talk Matt into just getting a turtle or a bird. Are there any old spinsters reading this? A bird is a decent substitute for a child, right? Right? If my stalling fails, and if it turns out that Matt doesn't like my pet suggestions, don't be surprised if the next time you see me out and about I've got a naked child strapped to my back. And should you choose to approach us, do take care to keep your arms close to your person at all times. He'll probably be a biter.