I have been having funny dreams. Some people said “treat for malaria”. So I did. It hasn’t helped. Maybe it’s Spartacus Season 3. All blood and gore, and the deeper you went, the bloodier and gorier it became, until it climaxed in the last episode, 10, with more blood and gore than in all the others put together.
Why I sat through it all, I cannot say but sit I did. Just like I stood through the burning of a man when I was just eight years old, from the throwing of the tyre about his neck till the last anguished moment, and even long after he became a sizeable chunk of roast meat, I stood. I suppose I am fascinated with the macabre. Were I a disinterested onlooker during the burning of the Aluu 4, after it was obvious I could do nothing—and by that, I mean nothing that would not earn me a tyre around my own neck, I am sure I would have stood until the very last flare of the fire, I would have stood through the horror and the panicked cries, I would have stood till the fire went out on the last charred body.
I am like that. ‘Tragedy porn’ they call it, but I don’t get any sexual rush. I am appalled, disgusted, but can I tear my eyes away? No. So I sat through Spartacus, which is nothing in the juxtaposition of movie versus real life. But I digress.
I was, or am trying to talk about children, or rather, my recent dreams about children. The other night, I dreamt that I had two babies, twins. Then two dogs were let loose on the babies, with chunks of fresh meat dripping with blood placed around the babies to entice the dogs. The children were wailing, but for some reason, there seemed to be nothing I could, or was willing to do about it. Then somehow, the babies became the chunks of meat and everybody was happy. Or maybe I didn’t see the babies again, nor the dogs, only the meat and chose to believe . . . whatever.
Then I dreamt again that someone had a newborn baby and gave her into my care. I kept forgetting the baby. She pooed all over herself and I couldn’t or didn’t care to change her. Then I was walking and turned around, and saw that I had been dragging her by the hem of my wrapper and scraping her along the ground as I went. I picked her up and she was smiling away, a very round, cheerful baby. Then I held her by the hand and walked on. When I looked back, the hand had stretched out of joint from my pulling on it. I sat back and started pressing it back in place until it became too short. The baby was just giggling and gurgling excitedly. She seemed pleased with, and to be with me. I said to her “good baby.”
I tell my dreams to a few friends and they say “that means it is time for you to have children.” Hmmm. I know what these dreams mean. I will be a bad mother. End of discussion. But they get me thinking. Why should I have children, or why do I want to have children? Because I can? Because it is expected of me? Because maybe I get married and/or I turn thirty and it is the natural order, the (il)logical next step? Because my friends are doing it? Because I need to prove that I am a woman—as if having breasts, and a vagina is not proof enough. Do I even want children? And if not, does that make me somehow flawed?
I remember an article I read not too long ago. A judge in ruling a case that involved the rape of a woman, who then lost her womb as a result of the incident stated “. . . and now that the woman can no longer conceive, she has lost all that makes her a woman . . . ” something like that. Poor guy, I suppose he was trying to justify the heavy sentence by painting as bleak a picture as possible. Still, my temper flared and was only mollified by the severe verdict that was handed down. But you can see the problem, where a citizen of such high social standing would make such a categorical yet erroneous and misleading statement. And there are many who would nod in agreement.
This next statement might offend your sensibilities but there are quite a number of children that should never have been born—not so much because of how they turned out as because of the conditions into which they were born, and I don’t mean poverty alone, although there’s that.
It’s funny that getting a drivers’ license (at least where due process is followed) requires such exactitude, whereas just anyone can have and keep a baby, and even in more developed countries, children will only be taken from their birth parents under extreme conditions. But I engage in some wishful thinking and imagine a world where people actually gave serious thought to whether or not they should have children, and why they want them.
I heard this story once, a myth. Somewhere in North-central Nigeria, people could not have children unless they went to some sacred River and implored the gods, making a case for why they wanted the child, stating how exactly they would raise the child, swearing an oath, and all that cool Nollywood stuff. I liked it a lot, not because I believe in all that stuff, but because I liked the idea of conscious thought going into the making of babies, not the mindlessness we see all over the place—babies by chance, borne out of pressure, a toss of a coin, a bargaining chip, leverage, accidents of thoughtlessness, afterthoughts, a flick of the wrist, a twist of the waist. I wish.
Who then should have children? It would seem as though society gives its blessings to the married, heterosexual Couple. Period. Backed solidly by religion. But really, who should, or may have children?
Discussion 1: Should everyone who can, be a parent? Left to your own devices, is this the conscientious thing to do even when you know you really shouldn’t.
Discussion 2: What happens if you do not want to marry but want to have children anyway? This troubles one of my friends a great deal. She is a nice Christian girl. But for whatever reason, she wants a child and marriage has just not happened yet. She plans to adopt but she may also consider a birth child. She tells her elder sister, who says something along the lines of “don’t talk to me ever again if you do that.” Is it fair that outside the bond(age) of marital bliss, you have children at risk of your reputation sporting smears.
Discussion3: What happens if you do not want to have children but want to marry anyway? This is for people who insist that the primary purpose of marriage is procreation. Is marriage considered complete without the joy of the patter of little feet.
Discussion4: What of the homosexual? (LGBTIQ)? A dangerous topic this, 14 years behind bars and all that shit.
Discussion 5: Should medically-proven barren/sterile people be allowed to marry? This also for . . . (refer to 3&4 above )
THINGS THAT BOTHER ME ABOUT CHILDREN
I titled that wrong. I think it’s things that parents do, about their children, that bother me.
Small preamble. You have kids. I am happy for you. I may or may not have any. But while I don’t, I have not yet acquired the indefatigable and inexhaustible tolerance of child lovers (no pun intended) and/or child owners. As such, I think people who have kids and get all the joy and pleasure out of it, should also take all the suffering, annoyances and aggravation that comes with having children.
I don’t see why you should enter a public transport vehicle with your four children and try to foist them off on strangers “here hold my excess luggage for me.” Hell no.
I don’t see why I should smile while your toddler tries to hug me and use my nice white skirt as a dishrag. No thank you, hey little pig, go over there.
I don’t see why I should smile while your child decides he likes me best of all the other people in the salon and wants to put his ringworm-infested head in my lap. And I am wearing a short dress! No really, are you serious? You sit there and glare at me as I try to move as subtly as possible but fuck it (forgive me if I shove strange diseased baby off my lap)
I don’t see why I should pay good money to see a movie in a cinema, then you cannot keep your brood quiet. Really, why did you bring them here? Do you realize that other people are not interested in your cute rug rats. Only you are. Get them out of here, buy the CD on your way out and watch the movie at home.
I’m eating. Why is this kid staring at me? Are you from Somalia? You are making me uncomfortable.
What? Those dirty hands in my food? No, get real. The bacteria won’t ask if it was passed from a child or an adult thank you.
One million questions. Hey, if I wanted to answer all those Qs, I would go do the Who Wants to be a Millionaire Game Show. Pssst go ask your mother. And your cool nursery rhymes recitations bore me. I’m sorry but they do.
Obese children eating ice cream don’t talk to me
Children playing videogames dawn to dusk during holidays don’t talk to me please
No you cannot play with my phones, are you kidding? Nor my computer. Nope, you can’t tear my books or write/colour in them, but there is a knife in the kitchen (okay, kidding). Or you can go play with the neighbour’s dog. Take the knife with you.
Don’t touch my makeup, my perfumes, don’t wear my shoes or play dress up with my clothes unless I am there to supervise. Don’t you know where you mother’s closet is at?
What I do like to do with children (ehm, this sounds one-kind)
Feed them greens
Talk to them like adults (especially about, but not restricted to sex—abuse/rape in particular)
Help with school work
Care for the sick ones (sorry to say this but sick children are more pleasant to be with – the crying, discomfort, distress, nothing is feigned. Every other time, they are suspect),
In closing, what can I say? Fuck responsibly.