Friday, May 21, 2010

COLUMN: Offspring

Life has been evolving at a scary pace lately.

For pretty much the past decade, I've been living a life of complacency, safety, and let's face it, boredom. Over the past year, I've somehow managed to meet and date a girl that I'm in no real hurry to lose. And if that's not enough, if all goes well, in about a month or two I could be moving into my first house. How's that for shaking things up a bit?

Now, I realize that this column is doing nothing but feeding ammo to my annoying co-workers who serenade me through the halls on a near daily basis with a barrage of "So when's the wedding?" "When you popping the question?" "Do you have baby names picked out yet? I bet sheee does!" So let me just nip that in the bud right now with THIS statement: If it happens, it'll happen, and only when it's the right time. That time is not now, especially when I have to pull a down-payment out of thin air. But it could very well happen at some point in the future, and that's enough to make me gulp right now.

This sort of lifestyle upheaval is scary on a number of levels, but there's one that makes me extra super duper scared:

My girlfriend is a bit baby-crazy. And that's not to say that it's a bad thing, because it's not. And it's not to say that she's trying to rush me into something, because she's not. There's some people who reach a stage of life and their mind just starts going "BABY BABY BABY." That's not her, either. No, I'm pretty sure my girlfriend's been going "BABY BABY BABY" since she WAS a baby.

She just seriously digs kids. This is probably a good attribute to have when you're a full time elementary school teacher and part time babysitter. We can't go to a restaurant, mall, or any public place without her fawning over any assortment of little kids. I know she eventually wants kids, and I know she'd make an awesome mom. I seriously dig her, and I know that if I want to stay with her, there's a good chance that one day I'll be saying howdy to a pointy-eared Shaneling or two. Double gulp.

I've never been AROUND kids in my life. I grew up the only child in a small family out in the middle of the country. Amy grew up in an army-sized family that would invent their own holidays if that's what it took to have a potluck. None of my close friends have kids. ALL of her friends have kids.

I know NOTHING about babies -- well, except that you're not supposed to shake them or let them fall on the soft spots of their noggins. Ergo, I'll be in charge of keeping our future offspring docile, dormant, helmeted, and seat-belted in a prone position until junior high. Amy can handle the rest. All I'm sure about is the one thing I don't think I'll ever be able to handle: poo. With advances in modern technology, you would REALLY think that by now, we should be able to potty-train children in the womb. Even the newest of newborn kittens know how to drop deuce in a litterbox.

"But Shane," you all say, "It'll be different when it's your own child. You won't mind changing their diaper, trust me." I don't trust you.

Let's go back to the cat analogy. I love my two cats, right? They're the closest things to children I've ever had to deal with thus far in life. Well, the other day, I got home to find a big ol' pile of hairball puke in the center of the kitchen floor. And in order for me to clean THAT up, it took The Infinite Number of Paper Towels, a couple of rubber gloves, looking in the opposite direction, and I STILL started to retch in the two steps it took me to get that nightmare from floor to trashcan. I think the only way this will work is if Amy takes my progeny away until Shane Jr. has full control over his/her body orifices.

Occasionally I think that I need to spend time with kids to prep for what one day might be the real thing. This is where Amy's babysitting gig comes in handy. She frequently sits for two sisters, age 5 & 6, who I lovingly refer to as my "practice children." Don't worry, Amy's always close by so I can't warp these kids TOO bad. But hanging with them is starting to brace me for what fatherhood might one day entail.

The other day, I was sitting around a table at what's likely to become my new house, in near-convulsion levels of fear, signing the first of a thousand documents to make an offer on the place. That's when Amy walked in with the girls.

"YOU LIVE IN A PRINCESS HOUSE!" one exclaimed.

Great. That's the exact macho image I was going for with this life makeover.

After the deal was done and the papers were signed, we went to Village Inn to see if I could get my resting heartrate down to a manageable level. As Amy took one of the girls to the bathroom, I was left for a minute with the six-year-old, whose attention had already turned to a word search in the kid's activity book.

"How do you do this?" she asked me. Practice Dad to the rescue.

"Well, you see those words there, right?" I explained. "They're all hidden in the puzzle and you've got to find them. What's that first word? Spell it out for me."


"Now sound it out. What's that spell?"


"Yep, that's a kind of fish. Now try to find it in the puzzle."

She nailed it in a second. I am totally awesome at this.

"Okay, spell out the next one. It's a kind of fish, too."


"See, you're GREAT at this! Now sound it out, what's that spell?"

Turns out that it's pretty easy to transpose an A and an R when you're six. And that's how the entire clientele and staff of Village Inn got to hear my practice child proudly yell out her first obscenity. So hey, at least I'm good at teaching little kids how to cuss (or, as I see it, perhaps I made a crucial early diagnosis of dyslexia.)

Still, I'm not giving up. One day I'll be comfortable around kids. Last weekend, I reviewed the Taylor Swift show at the iWi. Turns out I had an extra ticket, so I took Amy's little sister (a HUGE T-Swizzle fan.) Not only did we score great seats, I also lucked out and got her a pit pass so she could (gasp) TOUCH a guitarist and get loads of up-close pictures. I believe I am now THE COOLEST MY-SISTER'S-BOYFRIEND EVER. That's good enough for me for now.

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