A couple of weekends ago, Graham and I went to my nephew’s soccer game. I’ve been to almost all of them so far, both because I remember what it was like to have my family at my games when I was a kid, and also because the field is close enough to walk there.
If you haven’t been to a preschooler’s soccer game, you should totally go. When they’re not in a bizarre little person herd – wait, who am I kidding, they’re always in a herd! But there are also kids who think they’re butterflies and kids who stand there and cry and kids who have no clue what the fuck is going on, they’re just happy to be OUTSIDE AND RUNNING AND OHMYGOD MY FRIEND IS HERE! Also the concession stand sells candy and bratwurst, if that means anything to you.
You have to remember to keep a few things to yourself, though. It’s really easy to make comments about some of the kids or their parents, but if you’re not watching your volume level, you can very easily offend some parent by shit-talking on their booger-picking kid or psychotic friend or, you know, Catholic school in general, because not everyone who emerges from it alive has a sense of humor like mine. It’s okay to make some comments, just keep them low and mostly about the other team.
Graham and I had made mild fun of a kid on the other team who wore his jersey like a Snuggie and looked like he’d just defaulted on his first mortgage. Nothing mean or even audible, just comments along the lines of “why so serious, ginger kid?” Poor ginger kids. It’s so easy. (Yeah, my nephew has red hair, but it’s red like mine, which means it’s sort of an orange-ish blond and not the texture of rusty brillo.) Because Graham seems to find it hilarious when I involuntarily gag on an idea, he leaned in close during the game and said, “What do you think our kid would look like?”
“Probably kind of ugly,” I said.
We agreed that our kid would have a huge head, a big nose, and red crinkly hair. Our kid would also be a giant, as Graham is 6’4″ and I am 5’9″ and neither of us is on the wispy side. Our kid would also be loud and clumsy, and while we don’t want kids for lots of reasons, considering this genetic betrayal that would be its legacy*, it’s probably not a good idea for us to procreate in general.
There are certain things I wouldn’t know how to tell a kid, and just thinking about them makes me depressed and exhausted. I’m not talking about how babies are made or how to prevent babies from being made. That’s just science. I’m talking about the more complicated stuff, like explaining why some people are mean no matter what, and why they say terrible things that aren’t true and mistreat those they perceive as weaker than them. I mean, kids! Kids are awful! And some people stay kids into adulthood, where their viciousness can no longer be explained by the ignorance of youth! Boys are difficult enough; I don’t know enough about them to make the world make sense to one. But girls would be worse, because it seems like it would be so much harder to tell a girl why people in her own gender are so cruel to her for no reason, and why a lot of people in the opposite gender will manipulate and degrade her for that very reason.
On one hand, I think that any kid of mine would just sort of figure this stuff out. I did. Nobody told me this kind of thing when I was younger and I eventually learned. But it’s also taken me almost 30 years to get that some people are just fucking assholes, and there are plenty of people I know who are older than me and still haven’t figured it out, and not knowing this drives them to make teary phone calls to friends and therapists.
Yeah yeah yeah, the world is an amazing place, and it is full of saints and saintly people who can enrich your life in ways that will humble you on a daily basis. I get it. But the other people out there give me pause. The people like me, who apparently make fun of preschoolers at a soccer game and freely admit that their own offspring would be hideous.
*With any luck, my kid would be Heather Mooney. This would be awesome.