Sunday, March 7, 2010

Why I don't want to have kids

Yesterday, I had this compulsion to Facebook-creep some of my old peers from elementary school. I swung by my elementary school's FB group as a starting point and ended up browsing through the group's photo album. Here's a lovely picture of some upstanding Christian youth several years my junior with their requisite cool-kid cancer sticks. The caption of another photo outlines their favourite cigarette break getaways:

Ahem. Yes, Druxy's in the morning. Garage next door during spare. Druxy's after school.

It's funny because I quite liked my elementary school. I liked the teachers, I liked the education, and I had a fairly good time there. Most of what I know of scripture derives not from Sunday School classes, but from my Christian school education.

Yet looking back at the same school through a stranger's lens, I'm agog at the students that I see. Looking around at what became of my classmates, I'm dismayed at their endpoints. It's funny because, I look around at my current surroundings - my peers, my friends, my social bubble - and I'm quite optimistic. The world I live in, while not devoid of the vapid, the manipulative, or the vindictive, is fairly composed.

I live at the epicenter of the Canadian or American dream. I live in a bubble with the educated, the law-abiding, and the moral. Our futures involve careers and families and self-actualization. Even those who push the boundaries of our society-approved lives do so within limits that maintain a collective sense of safety and comfort.

It's easy to forget then, that the world is pretty damn broken. That beyond our social bubble, the majority of the world does not live the dream. In our communities, huge swaths of our youth are adrift and delinquent. One of Sandlot's friends had an elementary school teacher who pessimistically declared that only six people within that class would proceed to a university-level education. Years later, through Facebook, he confirmed that only six people in his class had done so, including himself.

In our nations, discrimination and poverty continue to marginalize populations. In our world, entire countries suffer from disease, illiteracy, oppression, and widespread suffering.

The prospect of raising a kid in this world actually scares the crap out of me. How much control do we actually have over the trajectory of our children? Surrounded by crowds of unruly influence, there's no guarantee that our children won't fall in with the wrong clique. What if my kid turned out to be an amoral bully? A gothic, high-school drop-out druggie? A promiscuous douchebag?

It's a serious responsibility to bear. It's true that I have, for most of my life, pictured myself with Andy Jr.'s in the future. But my pessimistic recognition of the world beyond my insulated borders sometimes makes me question this prediction. After all, you're committing to bring into the world a person who will live in it for a lifetime - and what if he/she comes out wrong?

The funny thing about high school and university is that a lot of the people you know are already on the trajectory that they will follow for the rest of their lives. The punks discover their punkitude. The bullies are set in their bravado. The achievers are working hard. For the most part, the people that I befriended seriously have remained fairly normal throughout. The potheads and troublemakers existed, but I managed to largely avoid interacting with them.

Elementary school, being so far back in time, leaves a lot more open. The dorky kids you made fun of often pull their coolness together in high school and become high-functioners. The innocent kids that we all were diverge into the variety of personas that we will carry into the future.

So in my Facebook stalking, I decided to creep up my best friend from Grade 6. He was a pretty fun guy, with a bit of a strange family. In Grades 7 and 8, he really let himself go downhill - socially and academically. By the end of Grade 8, he received an ultimatum - get his act together, or find another school. He also happened to be the only friend I had in elementary school who lived in my neighbourhood.

As things turned out, I decided to attend high school at my local public school as a number of my siblings had done. My friend also decided to switch over to public school, but for different reasons. We reconnected when we got there, being each other's familiar contact, but he quickly slipped in with the skater punk crowd - listening to heavy metal, brandishing an aloof disrespect for authority and daring sense of humour, and disregarding his studies.

Today, my friend has an exciting career as a grocery clerk.

Meanwhile, while still on my elementary school's alumni page, I took a scan through the wall for any names I recognized. I found one. Sam was in my year, and he was a bit of a troublemaker, though overall not an awful person. He got himself expelled by kicking a hole in the drywall in a fit of rage. Here he posted a comment regarding the principals at the time of the high school and elementary school branches, respectively:

Yes, I think that was just you. Kids are pretty scary. Adults can be equally messed up. Crazies are everywhere. Maybe I'll pass on this child-rearing exercise.

4 comments: said...

"Today, my friend has an exciting career as a grocery clerk." LOOOOOOOOL

good story.

I tell you another good story. there was a guy in elementary school who hated me, yelled at me in gym because I didn't pass the ball correctly, tried to make fun of me whenever possible. He was popular too so he was so arrogant about it.

I saw his name on facebook and clicked it. He goes to a no-name brand college in northern ontario studying sociology. Most of the people who were popular no longer remember him, and yeah.

sandlot said...

Facebook: Proof that life does not suck after high school for the awkward misfits.

Facebook: Also providing satisfaction to awkward former high school misfits that attaining popularity really wasn't worth it in the end.

Anonymous said...

you may want to "pass on the child-rearing exercise" but i'm sure u won't want to miss all the activities immediately before that! haha

Joyce said...

i suppose success is defined differently by everyone though, and higher education may not be what they aimed for? o:

But of course i come from a similar place as you sooo i do hope the jerks i had to deal with in elementary school ended up in crappy places mwahaha /good at holding grudges 8D;;;

ps you are such a creeper...