There seems to be a common misconception that all people who choose not to have children do so because they hate kids. And although there’s plenty of evidence across the Internet that there ARE in fact plenty of childfree people who deeply loathe children (see Exhibit A, #stopbreeding on social media), we aren’t all like that. Some of us actually really like kids but recognize that having them isn’t a good fit, and others (ahem, me) don’t have much experience with them and are low-key afraid of them at times.
There are many things that I actually do like but that don’t fit into the lifestyle I desire for myself. I’m okay with kids, but I absolutely adore dogs, like get-excited-when-I-see-a-dog-and-point-the-dog-out-to-whoever-I’m-with adore dogs. But even though I love them, I have never actually had a dog of my own. My family had dogs when I was growing up, and they were absolutely wonderful, but when I grew up and moved out on my own, I was keenly aware that my busy work schedule and small apartment were not a great living situation for a pup. Now, I live in a condo on the top floor of a building and still work very long hours, and as I am fairly certain that this isn’t changing anytime soon, I can recognize that the dog mom life is not for me. But that doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy spending time with other people’s dogs, which is very similar to how I feel about kids.
The reality is that if I like you, then odds are that I’ll probably like your kid too. I have plenty of friends whose kids are really cool, fun people to be around. My siblings don’t have kids either, but I am Auntie Veronica to my best friend’s two daughters, and I love being able to fill that role in their lives. I also have some friends who started having kids a few years ago, so I’ve watched their children grow since infancy and am quite fond of them. I try to do special things for them for their birthdays and I hope that as they get older that I will be a family friend that they enjoy spending time with.
I’m also not the kind of childfree person who expects your kid to be silent and well-behaved at all times (mostly because I’m not dumb and I realize that kids like to be loud and sometimes they are going to be little terrors no matter how awesome their parents are). When I’m in the grocery store or on an airplane and I hear a toddler begin to shriek, I’m not annoyed and I don’t expect that the parents are always going to be able to immediately remove their kid from the situation just because they’re melting down. Food has to be purchased; people have to travel. If anything, I feel sympathy for these parents, who are not only subjected to the sound of the shrieking but are also responsible for the little person doing said shrieking. I can endure quite a bit of tantrum-throwing when I’m not the one who has to try to make it stop while a crowd of strangers glowers at me.
I interact fairly well with kids, and once they’re old enough to speak in complete sentences I’m pretty comfortable around them, unless they ask me questions like if I know what ‘dead’ means or if I know where their newborn sister came from, in which case I will probably reply by asking who wants ice cream because then their mouths will be occupied and I will earn their affection for loading them up with sugar. I tend to steer clear of babies though, but I want to stress that it isn’t because I hate them but because they are terrifying. I don’t know anything about babies. I have never changed a diaper in my life and I don’t have the first clue how to hold a baby, so when you ask me if I want to hold your baby and I say no please just understand it’s because I don’t want to break them. I’m pretty sure breaking someone’s baby is frowned upon. Those things take a long time to make, after all.
I do fully acknowledge that there are plenty of childfree people who just genuinely do not want to be around kids, but I think there are just as many of us who just don’t have the desire to have children of our very own. I’m usually happy to spend the day with a good friend and their kiddos….but I’m also happy to return to the quiet tranquility.
Veronica Martin @vinthenw