So we’re trundling down towards Wan Chai in a minibus for brunch (should it be ‘tunch’ since it was already 2 pm?) at our favourite all-day breakfast place and I have brought up the idea of getting a cat. One of our friends here has two adorable ones – and I have decided I want a Siamese. Surprisingly, V says okay followed by: “But you have to look after it yourself. I’ll only play with it.”
Fair enough. I think the responsibility of a pet need not be foisted on others since pets are unnecessary to most (but not my) life. And having looked after a permanently ailing cocker spaniel I feel I could handle a cat.
However then came the shocker.
“I feel the same about babies actually. I don’t mind playing with them but I don’t want to look after them.”
This is when I blow up. What man in his right mind in the 21st Century (to which V replies – “it’s not the 21st C, it’s the 20th C – thereby proving that he is stuck in the dark ages) feels that this is an appropriate thing to say to a woman. Especially his wife.
After more than a year of being married to V, I am still not entirely sure when he is joking or not. Either way, I didn’t think this was funny. Especially since I suspect that even if he were trying to be funny, he was not entirely joking.
See the thing is that I don’t particularly want children. I am not entirely fond of them. The only children I am tolerant of are Chinese kids (who are adorable even when they’re being unbearably bratty) and street kids (whose sins are forgiven by the virtue of the extremely hard conditions under which they live). I like some of my cousin’s kids – but that’s at a purely personal level. I do not like them because they are kids. I like them because I think they are fun people. And I am mentally six myself so I occasionally get along with other six-year-olds. Anything below the age of two I tend to ignore.
My position on children is that I will have them at some point – and then like everything else I do, I will be committed to them. But I am not one of those women who has maternal stirrings in her bosom. I have always made this clear.
V on the other hand has never said anything such thing. He has maintained that lukewarm fondness for children that all adults feel obliged to. He has said he wants kids and has even of late being teasing me that I want a baby (which I took to be a sign that he wants a baby).
His parents and relatives have been asking me when I am going to have a baby every single time we talk to them. It’s curious, the differences in reactions from my side of the family and his.
His: “any special news” (aunt) “any good news” (aunt) “when are you going to have a baby? Don’t wait too long… blah blah” (mum-in-law).
Mine (on being told that I have been throwing up in the morning): “God, hope you’re not pregnant!” (dad), “you’re not pregnant no?” (mom)
So I tell V “when your parents keep asking you when you’re going to have a kid why don’t you tell them that you don’t want kids”. He: “I’m not going to tell them that.” Me: “Ok tell them that you want them but you don’t want to do any work for them so I don’t want them.” He: “They’re not going to see anything wrong with that”.
Which, sadly, is true.
I just think that V should have told me this earlier. It is just one more thing that should have been discussed before we got married which wasn’t.
V’s reaction to my drama is “ok ok, I’ll help you look after them.” Which I point out is extremely unconvincing and wishy washy attitude towards something like children. It’s like saying “ok ok let’s get married”. Which he points out is exactly what I did say.
Which stumps me for a second.
But marriage can be undone and children can’t. That’s what’s so bloody scary about them. They’re a permanent commitment – there’s no copping out because they didn’t turn out the way you would have liked, you’re just stuck with them. Even I, disliker of spawn, recognize that. And they are a whole lot of work – and V has proved again guys really do not know how much work. And until they do know, it’s a complete risk getting into that particular undertaking with them. Because there’s every chance that you’ll be left doing everything because in this case, it’s not like the dishes where you can just leave them.
What surprised me also was that I couldn’t easily give up on the idea of having kids either. It’s kind of like a tattoo or marijuana – I really don’t want to go through life not having done it only because I might regret it later. But I was counting on help from V. And if I’m not going to get that then I might as well go out and be impregnated by Chinese man so I can achieve goal of Chinese-like kid (hopefully minus my schnoz though). Or adopt a kid but not let it have V’s name if he’s not going to do any work.
In the end, made V swear on my and his life that he would do half the work for the as yet unborn, still unwanted child.