A friend of mine, a girl whom I’d met as a child and then reconnected with as an adult1, recently learned that she’s pregnant with her first child. Last night, she posted a long “Note” on Facebook, detailing all the things she’d do with/to/for her impending child, like what she’d name him/her, things she’d try to teach him, etc. This is third such letter/manifesto/whatever to an impending and/or hypothetical child I’ve seen in the past fortnight, and every time I find myself reading another, I think “…Definitely not what I’d do.” Then, in the wee hours of this past night — Gods, insomniac, go away — I started thinking, what would I do, say, teach?
I have absolutely no intention of having children; I’m not the maternal sort, and I can’t stand crying children, and I just don’t want them. But it’s fun to speculate, isn’t it?
If I had my druthers, I’d have a son. I don’t know why this is — aren’t girls and women supposed to want daughters? — but it is. Ideally, he’d be born in mid-to-late October, which is a beautiful month full of mulling spices, cool nights, and crunchy leaves. I’d name him Dante Emilio or Damien August, or maybe Gabriel Blue (though probably not; I love the name “Gabriel” but I do not like “Gabe”).
As a baby I’d read to him constantly and try to teach him to read early, as my mother did with me. Hopefully, he’d take after me re: speaking: by my first birthday I could hold short but coherent conversations and tell you to fuck off if you annoyed me. …Hopefully he wouldn’t take after me with the cursing, though.
I’d fill the house with music in hopes of instilling in Dante (my first choice, clearly) the same desperate, clingy love for music I have. There’d be Brahms and Tchaikovsky, of course, but there’d also be Billie and Muddy, Robert Johnson and Howlin’ Wolf, Patsy and Hank (Sr mostly, maybe a little Jr, but probably not III, at least not for a few years). I’d throw in some Bob Dylan and Tom Waits, but I’d save the Aerosmiths, the Guns N’ Roses, the Motley Crues for a few years, until he could better appreciate why it is that the guitar is the single best musical instrument ever invented.
In addition to a house of books and reading and music, ours would be a house full of science. I cringe — outwardly, because I just can’t help it — whenever someone I know to be a parent says something along the lines of “Ugh, I hate science” or “Biology is so boring!” I can’t help but wonder what sort of impact their negative attitude toward science imparts to their children. Ours is increasingly a country of cowards and haters when it comes to science, and I would do my level best to make sure my son would be neither. Science junkie that I am, I would take Dante to science and natural history museums and activities for children the same way other parents take their offspring to Chuck E. Cheese.2 I’d buy him microscopes and chemistry sets, and we’d conduct little experiments with and on things around him, in a bid to make him more interested in, and curious about, the vast, epic world around him, and the things that make that vast and epic world work.
And religion. Oh, religion. I’m an eclectic Pagan, and have been for, oh, thirteen years now. Over those past thirteen years I’ve come to form my own beliefs about God, creation, evolution, and other faiths. I’ve come to believe that the reality of God — of Deity — is something far out of the reach of the human brain, which, while impressive and massive to ourselves is, in the grand scheme of things, probably a piddly little thing in actuality. Deity isn’t something we can, or could ever hope to, really understand. But, being humans, we are generally incapable of Believing in something we don’t, or can’t, Understand. And, still being humans, to understand best — or try to — we need to be able to relate to it, to make It more like Us. Hence: God, Jesus Christ, Allah, Brahma, etc, etc, etc. All facets, I think, of the same God.
Being no different in this aspect from other humans, I’ve chosen to personify God in a limited way: I separate Deity, which I really have no name for, but have called “One” and “Spirit” at various times, into two facets: God and Goddess. Further, I separate God and Goddess into smaller Gods and smaller Goddess. I’m an eclectic Pagan and, though I’ve tried, I’ve never found a single pantheon — that is, a set of Gods, Greek, Roman, and Egyptian being the most well-known — that called to me enough for me to say “Okay, this is my pantheon, these are the Gods and Goddesses I feel most connected to,” so I’ve come to pick and choose as needed. That said, there are specific ones in various pantheons — Hera and Hades and Sekhmet and Thoth from the Greek and Egyptian pantheons, respectively — that I have a special affinity for, an unexplainable connection to.
Anyway, the point is: Pagan, fiercly so, but with a profound respect for other faiths and religions. Being that I believe all Gods are facets of the same Deity, I believe all religions are as “correct” as any other, and, as a result as incorrect as any other. This, more than anything, is what I’d try to instill into Dante: that good, compassionate, accepting Christians will get into Heaven — the same Heaven — as easily and as surely as good, compassionate, accepting Muslims. I wouldn’t necessarily hope Dante would become a Pagan, and I certainly wouldn’t teach him to be. Paganism is a hard road to go down, one fraught with misinformation and fear and hatred, both from outsiders and, unfortunately, from others who also call themselves Pagans. (Wiccans-for-the-shock-value, I’m looking at you.) But, if Paganism is what called to him, I certainly wouldn’t dissuade him.
As sex and sexuality goes, I’d be as open and honest with Dante as I’d know how to be. I’d probably go with “stork” for a few years before explaining — using small but science-friendly terms and concepts — exactly how he, and other kids, came to be. Given my set of friends, Dante would come to learn what homosexuality and bisexuality are fairly young — just as I did. Though my father is a fairly racist, homophobic guy, my paternal Aunt, whom I’ve always adored, owns a gay bar in the city — which I made my first visit to at two weeks of age. As a young kid, my Aunt rented the house next to ours, which she owned, to a wonderful gay couple. My parents never really taught me what homosexuality was, but I knew S and G loved each other and were together, and nothing about that seemed wrong or confusing to me; it just was. Such would be the same for Dante: never confused and never, ever taught to fear or hate. If he grew up heterosexual, great! If he grew up homosexual, great! If grew up bisexual, great! More importantly, he’d know these things — that gay and bi were just as right and fine as straight — as soon as he learned the difference. My kid would never have to hide in the Orientation Closet, afraid of what his mother would Think About Him.
In the end, I’d hope Dante would grow up to be a smart, accepting man with an appreciation for, if not a love of, science and reading and music. Not unlike me, really.
When I started writing this, I think I assumed I’d learn something about myself in the process. Instead, I learned two things: A) Parenting, even hypothetically in the confines of a blog post, sounds fucking exhausting; and B: My Mom, who did almost every single one of the things I just talked about doing, is Pretty Awesome.
I think I need to go tell her that.
- At twenty-six, it still feels weird to refer to myself, and to the people whom I’ve known since childhood, as adults. :lol: [↩]
- Though, of course, there’d be plenty of trips to Chuck E. Cheese for Dante, too; mindless fun and social interaction with other children is incredibly important as well. [↩]