A Wicked Case of the Baby Shrugs

3c27d88be8a50583bbb40cb32f9dfc52All of Facebook is having babies. I don’t know what your feed looks like, but mine is filled with tiny versions of my high school classmates. Our late twenties hit and—baby boom!—people spawned. Suddenly, everyone is having gender reveal parties and cake smashes.

Everyone, of course, except me. It’s not that I don’t want kids. We totally want to start a family, one day. I definitely want a tiny Grace to shower in feminist values and bookstore love, one day. It’s just that one day, in this case, is at least two-quite-possibly-five years away. Right now, the dear Professor and I are perfectly happy not worrying about college education funds, dirty diapers, or gendered toy aisles. Despite everyone, everywhere, wanting to know when we’re planning to start popping dem babies out, we’re decidedly not planning.

Also, let’s be honest, I’m going to be a crap mom. I’ll love our wee McGregors, sure, but the mom instinct is not strong in me. This week, I developed suspicions that it may be missing altogether. Some virtual friends of mine were all atwitter over an “incident” that happened at their daycare: someone fed the children McNuggets and store-bought cupcakes.

Are you shocked and furious? Congratulations! You are a responsible enough human to become a parent. My reaction was a grand shrug and intense craving for fried chicken slurry. Not once did I fear for Wee Isabelle and Wee Lancelot’s delicate systems or scream “THE CHEMICALS! OH, WON’T SOMEONE SAVE THE CHILDREN FROM THE CHEMICALS!?”  on my rooftop. In fact, my only contribution to the discussion was to point out that everything is made of chemicals, so let’s not demonize a perfectly good scientific term, okay?

It’s not like I think children should only eat McDonald’s, but surely a handful of chicken nuggets won’t doom them to a life of crime and obesity. No one ever says “Johnny was such a good kid, until he ate that one nugget. Now it’s all hookers and Pokemon thefts for him.” Humans are way more resilient than that, even the small ones. Why, when I was a kid, I ate mountains of chicken nuggets and my left kidney only twitches occasionally. The moms were unimpressed. Some of them may have intimated that childless people just don’t understand kids. Which is…totally true.

I was never super great at being a kid, in the first place. When I tried dangling from the monkey bars that one time, I let go, fell to the ground, and couldn’t breathe for five minutes. When other kids wanted to play in the woods, I talked nonstop about ticks and Lyme disease. So, the thought of having kids–normal, happy, not convinced there’s a dead body in every empty field kids–is a distant one. It’s like considering the moon, when you’ve never even flown on an airplane. Or a chocolate mousse, when you’re allergic to milk and chocolate. Or children, when you are totally indifferent to their existence.

I have, in other words, the baby shrugs:

“When are you having kids?”


“Don’t you want kids?”


“You’ll want them someday, surely.”


“You won’t feed Isabelle high fructose pork syrup, right?


“Tell me you heard the thing about syrup!”


So many shrugs. Luckily, my beloved is currently shrugging, too. When we do have children, they’re probably going to eat chicken nuggets every once in awhile. However, all cards on the table, they’re going to be so damned weird that those evil chemicals won’t make a dent. Genes are wonderful, horrible things.

– Grace

Please Don’t Name Your Child That

My friends are procreating. It was bound to happen, sooner or later. Enough of them are married and/or regularly rolling in the hay. Babies are the obvious, somewhat smelly next step. My Facebook feed has suddenly been taken over by nursery decorations and pictures of pee sticks pregnancy tests. The infants, they draw nigh!

Now, on the whole, I’m pro-baby. Sure, I’m not ready for one (hooray whore pills!), but I can see the appeal: they’re even cuter than kittens, they often smell nice, and someday you’ll get to embarrass them with the naked pictures you take today. That’s a pretty sweet deal. So, when I’m invited to baby showers, I tend to be excited. Buying tiny clothes! Eating cupcakes with gendered icing! Making fun of the impending spawn’s name!

Oh yeah, that last one happens a lot. People are bestowing some terrible appellations on their children, kittens. I know this isn’t new. When Tiffany went from a store to a chart-topping first name, we were pretty much screwed as a species. Some of these modern trends, however, seem especially painful. When it comes time to name your own vomit-slingers, please don’t choose from these options:

Sex & The Twilight Inspired – When you were a wee single lass, you watched Carrie and Big live happily ever after, whispering to your stuffed camel, “Someday, Butternut Cantaloupe, that will be me!” Now, it’s happened and – hooray! – you’re having his bébé. It’s only natural that you’d want to honor your imaginary friends by naming a miniature person after them. I’m just going to caution you, however. If your friends pay too much for shoes, were written by Nicholas Sparks, or sparkle in the sunshine, rethink this decision. Every other kid in your baby sinking swimming classes will be named: Aidan, Noah, Jacob, or Bella.

Chik-Fil-A Spellings – Question: Are you, or have you ever been, a bovine fast food mascot? If not, please use traditionally accepted spellings. Katherine v. Catherine is one thing, but Kathrynne, really? Really!? Your poor child is going to have her name misspelled by every person she meets, from Starbucks baristas to the police officers issuing her that minor-in-possession ticket. Worse, you can’t get mad at her for drinking underage. Repeatedly spelling such a name for twenty years would drive anyone into the arms of Jose Cuervo!

Words That Will Doom You – I know. Just subbing out some letters in an existing name seems too overdone. You want your child to be the most special snowflake amongst all of the special snowflakes ever. Ergo, you’ve decided to really blaze your own path, and pick a word that best encompasses their spirit. Wait – blaze! – that can be a name right? Blaze McGillicutty has a nice ring to it. No, it doesn’t. It has the ring of a child who will one day burn down your house. Children are already crazy, they need no encouragement. Names like Rowdy and Wilder are just dooming you to a toddler who’s even more rambunctious than usual. When you’re peeling stickers off the side of your BMW’s bumper, blame no one but yourself.

Sugar & Spice & Schnookums – Your child came out super hot. Congratulations! Your genes totally own other people’s! However, this is no time to get cocky with your spawn’s name. Just because she’s as cute as button doesn’t mean you should actually name her Button. Just because he’s as sweet as pie doesn’t mean you should name him Pecan. Cutesy nicknames are great – my brother has been called Bunny Boy by my mother for most of his life – but they don’t work as actual names. When she’s five, JuJuBee is adorable. When she’s a 48 year-old podiatrist? Less so.

Now, if your precious preciouskins’ name falls into these categories, my apologies. To each their own! I may snicker a bit about your choice, but I promise to give little Renesmee really great birthday presents. If you went with Torchy, however, I can’t promise he won’t use that set of Harry Potter books as kindling.

– Grace