If you’d talked to me about biological clocks a few years ago, I would’ve laughed at you. I liked kids, kind of. I had steady babysitting jobs throughout junior high and high school, and I thought kids were funny. I liked those youtube videos of laughing/farting babies as much as the next girl. But actually having a baby? No thanks. The “biological clock” sounded like just another thing asshole men talk about in order to make women sound hysterical. I didn’t agree with this idea that all women of a certain age were on a mission to find a man, any man, who could put a baby in her NOW. It wasn’t that I ever hated kids; they just left me cold, like the television show Scrubs. I can see how other people like it, but it’s not for me. Basically, I didn’t care about kids.
Until one day I did.
Now it’s like I’m magnetically drawn to the babies I see in public. I can feel their giant baby eyes staring at me, and when I look at them and see their stupid baby smiles, my heart melts. I’ve caught myself looking at baby clothes in Target and daydreaming about dressing my future baby boys like little John Legends in itsy-bitsy sweater vests and bow ties. I’ve thought about my non-existent baby’s nursery (no pastels!). I’ve already thought about how I’ll name my children after my favorite fictional characters or authors (or Kardashians. I haven’t decided yet) and how I’ll raise them to be creative feminists (
even ESPECIALLY the boys) who would rather make something than play with whatever is the future equivalent of a PSP.
I know, logically, that I’m not ready for a baby; not mentally, emotionally, physically, or financially. Like, as much as I’m sure any baby would love to sleep in my combination living room/dining room/kitchen/office, it’s not gonna happen. Actually having a baby now would almost definitely ruin my life as I know it, and I’m fully aware that I don’t really want one for a good 7-10 years. But, goddamn you biology, I love babies now.
Last weekend H. and I went to breakfast at DK Diner. The DK stands for Donut Kitchen, which is why we go there almost every weekend. Most of the neighborhood’s good citizens were at church, so it was just us and a smattering of young couples. An old man walked in with his two grandchildren, and the tingling that I at first thought was just low blood sugar caused by lack of pancakes turned out to be my baby-sense.
“Look how cute!” I hissed at H., who was reading the menu through half-open eyes. H. and I have very, very different morning styles; I bound out of bed around 6 a.m. on the weekends, open all the blinds, squeeze in some AM Yoga with my BFF Rodney Yee, and walk to get coffee all while H. peacefully slumbers. He likes to wake up a few hours later and stumble around in his pajamas, closing all the blinds I’ve opened because the harsh light of 9:30 is too much for him. Then I talk at him, delivering a few rapid-fire monologues like I’m some sort of early-morning David Letterman (or, let’s face it, George Lopez) while he nods and rubs his eyes, until he’s finally awake enough to have a conversation. So the fact that we were even out eating breakfast (his least favorite meal, mostly because he always sleeps through it) at 8 in the morning shows that his love for me is real. I was lucky he was even awake; he certainly wasn’t going to provide conversation.
I watched the grandfather help his kids pick out donuts in the glass case under the cash register. He gave them quarters and they got gumballs out of the machine. The girl was tiny, in a little pink dress and matching giant hair bow. The boy wasn’t much bigger; he couldn’t have been older than 4. All the while, my ovaries sang gentle lullabies to the rational part of my brain.
“What a great day for them,” I said to H, my chin in my hands. “I mean, I loved that when I was a kid. Going out with your grandparents was the best. No rules, eating anything you wanted? How fun.”
“I’m gonna get an apple fritter,” H. said, closing his menu.
I decided on chocolate chip pancakes, because sometimes on the weekends I like to mix it up and deviate a bit from my usual green smoothies. “Today’s all about you, girl!” I told myself in my head, a strange trick I’ve picked up to make myself feel less guilty about indulging any of my whims.
The grandpa and his kids sat down at the booth behind H, giving me a perfect view of the little girl jumping up and down on the seat. The little boy peeked over the edge of the booth beside H’s head. I waved and he ducked back down.
At DK Diner, coffee is self-serve and you can pick out your own mug. As I returned from getting a cup of black coffee in a cracked rainbow balloon mug I hope they never get rid of, I saw that H. was turned around in his seat, talking to the kids.
“Muffinhead!” yelled the boy as I sat down. He pointed at H. “Muffinhead!”
“Are we muffinheads?” I asked, my voice loud and incredulous. The little boy grinned back at me. He tore open a sugar packet and poured the contents into his mouth.
The waiter brought out our pancakes and apple fritter. “Muffinhead!” the little boy yelled again. “Muffinhead! Muffinhead!”
“Sit down,” their grandfather said. He tugged at the boy’s shirt. “They want some peace and quiet.”
The little girl chewed her gum with her mouth open. “Muffinhead!” they both yelled. They started jumping up and down in the booth.
“Muffinhead!” the little boy screamed. “Pizzahead! Nosehead! Suckerhead! Noodlehead!” He took his gum out of his mouth, cocked his arm, and took aim at H. “Throwing noodles!”
“NO THROWING NOODLES!” I shouted, and he put his arm down.
“Sit down! You’re bothering the whole restaurant!” the grandfather said, but it was clear he’d lost this battle somewhere between the gumballs and the sugar packets.
“What do I do?” H. whispered as he leaned over the table. The kids were both jumping and screaming now. Everyone in the restaurant, which was gradually starting to fill up, was staring at us.
I don’t spend a lot of time talking to children, because I am not a mother or a teacher, but I tried to start a conversation with this kid anyway. I thought maybe it would distract him from the “noodle” throwing. “Did you eat a donut?” I asked. “Are you with your grandpa?” It was the kind of conversation you’d have in a Spanish 101 class, when you don’t have any grasp of the language and can only talk about what’s in front of you. My shirt is blue. I eat a donut.
“MUFFINHEAD!” he shouted.
As the grandfather paid the bill, the little boy sat down and said, “I’m ready to go now.” The grandfather apologized to us as he left, and we just smiled and said it was fine because, well, what are you going to do? He looked like he was considering never taking care of those children again, and I couldn’t exactly blame him.
We spent the rest of the day walking around the neighborhood, getting coffee, and buying groceries. No one yelled at me or called me muffinhead. I did not stop to look at every child we passed, or smile dreamily at the men “wearing” their children in Baby Bjorns.
I’m not having kids until I’m 40.