I had an idea in the airport this weekend after our flight was delayed five hours, and I’d watched Gus drag his tongue across the armrest of nearly every empty chair in the waiting area. And then wipe his face on the carpet, because, why use a napkin when the floor is so filthy and conveniently close? And then engage in a long, tearful exchange about how he wanted to drink his chocolate milk through a straw (that was two inches shorter than the container he was drinking out of), but how he didn’t want to sit next to Mommy and drink it, but rather, “I go in potty with Daddy and drink it in there. With a straw.” And then Patrick’s diaper resigned without notice, and I wound up with shit smeared all over my lap. And of course I hadn’t packed an extra outfit for him (or me) because
a) I am a negligent ass, and b) I didn’t anticipate it taking us 14 @#!$#@ hours to fly from Nashville to New Jersey.
A Tube-Tie Station.
That’s my idea. Small kiosk, staffed by medical professionals, little velvet curtain, comfy bed. The signage would say “Tie Before You Fly!” and advertise a free medium coffee and choice of Peoplemagazine or Danish* with every procedure.
What mother wouldn’t jump on that offer? You get a little peace and quiet, a bite of pastry, and a quick tubal ligation. When it’s over, they hand you a receipt, and at the bottom it says, “Relax. It will never happen again!” Have a nice flight.
Or maybe that sounds a little crass.
Other women seem to do just fine traveling with kids. We saw one mother doing it alone. Alone. With an infant and a two year old. And, unlike me, she did not look like she’d been tossing and turning all night in a landfill. This is amazing to me. Even with a helpful husband on hand, I can’t seem to arrive anywhere looking remotely sanitary. I have to call the daycare every morning and make sure the boys are there. “Hey, it’s me. Are they both in their classrooms? With the doors closed? Are you sure?” And then I know it’s safe to get dressed.
When Larry and I retire, I’m going to wear a fresh white tank top every day. And I’m going to walk up to strangers and say, “Hey! What color is this tank top?” And they will say, “It’s white.” And I will say, “I know! Isn’t that awesome?” (And they will think, “Oh. She must have Alzheimer’s.”)
There are people who read my blog and email me every once in awhile to say I’ve once again confirmed their decision not to have children. And to them I say, “check out the tube-tie station in terminal C!” But it always bums me out a little. Like I’m painting an inaccurate portrait of parenthood. Or selling the boys short.
It’s just that diarrhea makes better copy than sap. And it’s so hard to write about the joy of parenthood without resorting to clichés like, well, “The Joy of Parenthood.” But the joy is there. I promise.
Like yesterday morning. Gus was sitting in his highchair eating breakfast, and he spoke this perfect little sentence. “When Patrick’s a little older,” he said, “then he can eat granola.”
“That’s right,” I told him. “When he has teeth.”
“I have teeth,” Gus said.
“Me too,” I said. “And so does Daddy. And we can all eat granola. Except Daddy really shouldn’t, because he’s on the South Beach Diet right now. And you mark my words, he will lose five pounds every day this week, and I will have to hang myself in a jealous rage.”
“Mommy, who else has teeth?” (Above all else, the boy is focused.)
And so we sat and talked about all the people we know who have teeth. (It turns out there are quite a few. So, if you ever need me to put you in touch with someone who can chew … )
And he was so excited! To know all these people who have teeth! So many people! And to be having a real conversation with me. To know things. And talk about them. At length. You might forget what a privilege that is, if you never saw it happen for the first time.
If you get Larry going on the subject of having kids, he likes to say, “What else is there to do?” And while I can think of plenty else (like reading an entire People magazine in the airport without interruption)—I can think of nothing better.
*Danish subject to freshness and availability.