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 Texas : Features : Humor / Column : "Stumbling Forward"

Who wants you, baby?

by John Gosselink
Alfred. E. Newmanlink
To be more fruitfuller, or not to be more fruitfuller, that is the poorly constructed, grammatically incorrect question.

Since I'm bumping up against 40, the wife and I have been having a lot of conversations about our desire, or lack there of, of adding to the majestic herds of Gosselinks rumbling across the fruited plains. To be honest, she hates when I use bison metaphors when discussing our prospective progeny, but I think it's fitting.

The wife thinks I'm limiting myself with the whole "being too old" thing, She'll tell me that Oprah her ilk say that 40 is the new 30, and that 50 is the new 40. What does that even mean? We're supposed to knock 10 years off our maturation evolution? Does that mean if we have another kid, he won't be potty trained until 12? No voting until middle age? Not be able to enjoy the senior citizen discount for a Denny's Grand Slam breakfast until you have no teeth to enjoy it? This is a slippery slope I really don't want to fall clumsily down.

I'm more of the mind that goofy people are like dogs. We age differently. Whereas a normal dog year is 7 human years, a normal goof year is 1.39 human years. Because of our inherent clumsiness and poor decision making, goofy folk are constantly falling down, running into things, getting our heads stuck in tight places, and other activities that cause blunt head trauma, which really ages a guy. Luckily, we're too goofy to do the math to find our true age or we'd be depressed and goofy.

Then you add the fact that I'm one of those folks who was born old. Not the "wisdom beyond my years" angle, but more of the spending an inordinate amount of time discussing my digestion, yelling at kids who even come close to getting in my yard, and being ornery for no apparent reason, grouchy kind of old guy. I always identified with the crotchety old neighbor in 1950's sit-coms. Mr. Wilson was straight on; that Dennis Mitchell is a menace to society and should be beaten repeatedly with belts, shoes, and sundry other clothing accessories until he learns his proper place.

Even with this incontrovertible evidence, the wife keeps pushing. She likes to bring up those Old Testament stories in which really old folks are having kids, with a little divine help, at the drop of a hat. I find I usually pale in comparison to Hebrew patriarchs. Every time I try to lead my people out of Egypt or start a chosen lineage, folks just ignore me. What can you do?

The thing with a new kid is that I'm afraid of lost my chops. Folks will tell you that baby caring is like riding a bike when it comes to remembering what to do. But seeing that most of my bike rides end up with me in the ditch covered with numerous scabs, this advice is not real reassuring.

It's been a good five years since I've changed a diaper, present company included. I seem to recall that changing your own kid is not that big a deal, but I recently walked into the men's bathroom at the Walmart and a very harried daddy was trying to make use of the changing station with a wiggly infant and a toddler who was trying to stick his hand in a urinal. Let me tell you, that did not look like a good time. Probably repeatedly flushing the toilet to entice the toddler was not the most helpful thing to do, but he would get so excited.

I really wanted no part of that scene. That whole "public restroom diaper juggle' was hard enough when I had my reflexes. Then there's the fact that I'm a big fan of sleeping. If memory serves, having a baby in the house really eats into your naptime, not to mention that if I'm going to be up at 3 a.m., it's going to be because of senseless and counterproductive insomnia, not because somebody didn't get enough quality milk time with mama.

Then there is that strange way in which one of the great things about life is turned into a chore. What, with all of the day counting, temperature taking, doctors all up in your personal business, and being sent to the store for, no matter how old and family manish you appear, an embarrassing to buy test. Now, I'm not trying to dissuade you youngsters out there expecting your first, and you know who you are, or at least I hope you do. Otherwise, you're going to be in for a huge surprise. Anyway, as with most things in life, there is a time for it, and a time not for it.

And knowing how fate usually works, by throwing out to the universe my feelings on the subject, the wife will be pregnant real soon. Plus, I'm virile, really, really virile, so it's bound to happen. At least that's my story.
John Gosselink
"Stumbling Forward"
April 17, 2005 column

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