“Do you like adults?”
This is a question I have never been asked. Likewise, I have never heard anyone raving about how much he or she loves adults. The very concept seems silly. Certainly, there are many adults I like and others…not so much. The point is, I make my judgements on a case-by-case basis.
“Do you like kids?” on the other hand, is a fairly routine question. Sweeping statements about whether or not one likes children are much more common and somehow seem less silly, but are they really? Yes, there are characteristics, both good and bad that are common among most children. Because I have grappled with the question about whether or not to have kids, I have spent an inordinate amount of time thinking about whether or not I like kids. I’m hesitant to say “no” for a number of reasons. First, stating that I don’t like children brands me in the eyes of many as a cold-hearted, unloving person, which is really not true. Second, and more importantly, many children have several qualities I find quite endearing.
- Kids often have a real sense of wonder. So much in the world is new and waiting to be discovered by them. It can be amazing to see.
- They are often cute.
- Children, particularly young children, tend not to be cynical and jaded.
- There’s a freedom that children have that most adults do not–the freedom to be uninhibitedly, unabashedly themselves, whatever that might be. There’s no denying that kids are shaped by society, but with young kids, there seems to be less in the way of conscious reigning in of who they really are or want to be.
- Children play. More adults need to remember to play.
- Kids’ clothes: freakin’ adorable.
Of course, there are numerous traits common to kids that I find less palatable.
- They are very dependent. Although this isn’t necessarily their fault, it’s still a strike against them in my book. Of course, we were all kids and all very dependent at one point. I’m grateful my parents put up with it. I’m not sure I’m so inclined.
- The same lack of inhibition that can lead to amazing moments of discovery and playfulness also is associated with temper tantrums, crying jags, and general obstinance.
- Stickiness. Somehow, kids seem to be sticky all the freakin’ time.
- They are often messy and destructive. Evidence here.
- Kids are frequently demanding, ungrateful, and selfish. They take almost everything for granted.
So, do I like kids? The best answer I can give you is this:
Not all things on either list above apply to all kids, which is why I prefer to judge kids as I judge adults–on a case-by-case basis. The fact that I have no kids and am unlikely to in the future is not because I don’t like children. I have met children who I very much enjoyed being with. I have also met children who I would rather stick a hot poker in my eye than spend a day with. My biggest hangup about having a child is this: having a child is signing up to live with someone whom you’ve never met for at least 18 years. Not only are you signing up to live with this little person you’ve never met, but you are signing up to completely change your life to do so. Most people would never consider doing this for an adult but hardly give it a second thought when it comes to children. Granted, parents are able to exert a fair amount of influence over what kind of person their kids grow up to be, but it’s not all under parental control. I have known some lovely people who have had some pretty lousy offspring. Sometimes the proverbial apple falls very far from the tree, and that can be a very frightening prospect.