When I was Firstborn’s age, I knew that I would never have children. I had five younger sisters, and that was absolutely enough. I would live my entire adult life in peace and quiet, never having to share a single bedroom or possession ever again. No one would ever eat the last of my favorite cereal or use my favorite eyeliner. I would always have all of the dessert to myself, and the pile of presents under the tree on Christmas morning would all be for me, me, and ME!
So when Firstborn tells me that she is never going to have children, I tell her that I believe her. She tells me that children are too loud and annoying, and I smile at her. I also remember how difficult it was to even breathe the same air that my sisters were breathing.
I do not tell her, except in extremely rare instances, that it would be a shame to waste all of those good genes in her. I value my life.
On Sunday, she and I got out of the house; it was just the two of us, and we dropped by my parents house for a short visit. I stayed in the yard to look at my Daddy’s latest gardening projects while Firstborn went in to see her Grandma. After a while, Daddy and I headed inside too. To my surprise, I found FB sitting in the living room with a lap full of baby, and another tiny cousin at her knee, and a big smile on her face.
Her tiny cousins (the youngest ones she has, and both girls, of course) were fascinated by her eyes and her long, dark hair. Firstborn’s hair is a genetic wonder in our family; her hair is combination of fine and almost wiry strands and hangs more than half-way down her back. It is so thick that you can gather up fistfuls of the stuff and still not get it all. (Aunt Rachel and I know because we once seized an opportunity while FB was lying on the floor with her guard down.) She thinned it once, but the embarrassment of having her mother do the ugly snotty cry about it in the salon chair beside her cured her of ever wanting to do that again.
A baby could get lost in all of that hair, and the little one tried. It took a while to untangle the baby’s left hand.
So Firstborn, who never wants children (just as I didn’t at her age and for many, many years afterwards), sat in her grandparents lazy chair for over an hour while her tiny cousins stared, poked, cuddled and drooled. The teething baby chewed on her older cousin’s finger until the string of slobber from her mouth made a big puddle on FB’s designer jeans.
It’s the one time I didn’t have my camera on me. Believe me, I kicked myself plenty. (It also gave me the tiniest glimmer of hope that in fifteen or twenty years Big Daddy Jeff and I will have the beginnings of the most beautiful passel of grand-babies ever viewed by human eyes.)
I didn’t say anything about babies on the drive home. I also didn’t mention the glob of baby snot-boogers in the left side of Firstborn’s otherwise-perfect hair. I still value my life.