He love me, he love me not . . . . As a youngster I watched my sister and her girlfriend pluck the petals off a daisy, a rather silly game, I thought.
Now 20 years later, my wife Galya and I find that we too play a quite similar game. KIDS, NO KIDS, KIDS, NO KIDS. . . . Married for over six years, we are as confused on having children as politicians are on how to deal with inflation. I think we know how but we just can't decide the ifs and whens . One minute we are eager to call the stork; the next we hang out a sign reading "No Birds Allowed!"
It would be nice to have a son to play baseball with or a daughter to give piano lessons to (or play baseball with). Naturally, I am curious to see what they would look like. Galya shares my curiosity but she worries they might dare to look like me.
We recently visited my long-lost cousin in Europe. His two lovely daughters and handsome son, ages 4 to 8, regularly helped their mother set the table and entertained Dad with the new things they learned in school. They were well mannered, always saying "Yes Ma'am,' and 'No, Sir.' Galya and I decided it was time for us to begin creating little Colemans. Our moment of decision had arrived -- no more doubts.
The plane flying us back to the U.S. was full, overflowing mainly with Yugoslavian-American mothers and kids. Across the aisle from us were two young children: the girl, about 4, was cuter than a speckled pup, and the boy, about a year older, made Robert Redford look plain. The little feller kept staring at me when he though I wasn't looking. The girl, obviously braver, just sat there smiling and watching me closely, as though I were a cookie jar. Soon we were playing all kinds of sophisticated games: peek-a-boo, tickle-tickle, and funny faces.
After playtime and a filling meal, Galya and I were ready to grab a few hours of sleep. One and a half logs were sawed when a kamikaze scream jarred me awake. My first thought was that the engine or wing had fallen off. I knew we shouldn't have flown on a DC-10. Several more screams blasted the air. In calm panic, I turned around to evaluate our fate, only to catch a glimpse of a baby bottle squirting milk as it flew past my face. Fortunately, the missile was made of plastic and so did little damage as it bounced off the head of the fellow sitting in front of me. If I had wanted to learn a few curse words in a foreign language, the gentlemen afforded me the opportunity.
In the process of wiping milk droplets off my shirt, I witnessed one toddler try out for the opera and another attempt to break the sound barrier. How little throats can produce so many decibels I don't know. A third kid ran down the aisle trying to escape his keeper.
Whatever possessed the would-be opera singer and the test pilot must have been contagious. Here we were, locked in this long flying tube encompassing 100 screaming sadomasochists, with the probability of an additional 100 joining in at any moment. I reasoned with my shred of sanity remaining that the little monsters had waited for my eyelids to close, and at that point made their frontal assault. Their attack succeeded. I asked the stewardess for a parachute; none were aboard. She looked ready to jump herself.
But obviously, the crew were seasoned veterans; we finally landed safely at New York's Kennedy Airport.
Galya and I have decided to postpone starting our family for a while. We may someday decide to have children of our own, but in the meantime, we have a solution: Rent-A-Kid. As hard as it might be to believe, some parents are willing to part with their children for a day or two -- to give their children a rest. A perfect match -- children who need a rest from their parents and non-parents who want to be with children a while.
As a general rule, children are lovable, but there are exceptions. For this reason, prospective renters should shop around. Insist on taking the child around the block for a trial run. A few pertinent questions asked of the child -- away from the parents -- can sometimes reveal a great deal. Tell-tale signs often will surface that otherwise stay hidden in the living room. Check to see if the child has a low boiling point. If he/she curses you for accidentally stepping on his/her foot or threatens to slash your tires for failing to treat him/her to an ice cream, you may wish to reconsider.
Should the parents offer you a rebate and free insurance as incentives for renting their child, you can be fairly certain that you would be renting one of those few exceptions to the loveable rule. Unless you are a social worker or child psychiatrist-in-training, excuse yourself and visit another family.
And visit, and visit, and visit. We love them, we love them not, we . . . .