Children’s Consent

My boyfriend and I had an interesting argument. Not the good meaning of “interesting”.

The topic of pierced ears and children came up. I’m well aware ear piercing is essentially harmless and it’s very common, but I’ve personally never liked the idea of piercing an infant’s ears because it’s purely cosmetic and the only reason for is tradition.

Unfortunately, my boyfriend likes tradition. His reasons for it amount to tradition, superstition (it’s supposed to bring good luck), and a baby won’t remember it anyway.

First and foremost, I believe if “they won’t remember it” is an argument for anything, it’s probably not a good thing.

More importantly than that, my biggest reason, aside from it being a needless cosmetic procedure, is that I’d prefer waiting until my (non-existent) child is old enough to understand what ear piercing is and consent to do it because it’s her (or his) ears that will have a needle or gun shot through them. But my boyfriend threw all of that down in the name of “tradition”, saying he didn’t understand why waiting until a child is old enough to consent would be necessary.

That’s where I officially had a problem.

“Just because it’s what’s done doesn’t mean it’s what should be done!” – Cinderella, 2015

My boyfriend deemed my value of a child’s ability to consent and understand what will happen to their body to be irrational. I deemed his reasons of tradition and superstition to be sentimental, and a child’s supposed lack of memory (fun fact: studies have proven children as young as three months old can form memories) to be an archaic idea.

Should I ever change my mind about parenthood, it will spell the end of our relationship, even if he also changes his mind, because someone who values tradition and sentiments above a child’s well-being, even for a matter that’s supposedly harmless, is not someone I want to raise children with. The perhaps ironic thing here is he says it’s not a big deal. If that’s the case, why the rush to pierce a child’s ears before they have the ability to consent to the procedure? If it’s not a big deal, why is “they won’t remember it” a reason for it? If it’s really not a big deal, remembering the pain shouldn’t be an issue.

He stated the pain will go away, which is true. But he stated this in the same vein as “they won’t remember”. Never mind the pain will also go away for an older child, a teenager, or an adult.

And yes, I had my ears pierced as an infant, at seven months old. Considering I very rarely wear earrings, I really wish I hadn’t. On a different note, can someone please explain the borderline obsession with cosmetic procedures, especially about an infant?

Let’s be honest: it’s to make the adults feel good. It is not for the baby because the baby cannot grasp what’s going on, why, or give consent. It’s for the adults to fawn over and feel special. In the end, he said he would get a (female; of course, not male) child’s ears pierced as an infant because every woman in his family has done it. With that type of thinking, I’m surprised he isn’t a parent. After all, if he does something because everyone else does, why hasn’t he had a child thus far? That’s definitely something everyone (or almost everyone) in his family has done.

My frustration is I find this argument to be a sign of a bigger problem: my boyfriend doesn’t think. I don’t hate tradition itself, but this isn’t a tradition like putting up a Christmas tree for December 25th. This is a tradition that affects someone else (yes, babies and children are people). And no matter what reasons I presented, even pointing out factually that babies do have memories (whereas he had none they didn’t), they were drowned out in the name of tradition. That scares me. If he deems tradition and superstition to be of greater important than logic, consent, and autonomy, and believes someone’s potential lack of memory justifies bypassing their willingness, what else does he believe? What does he believe about me?

I said if we did have a child and he pierced our child’s ears without my knowledge or mutual agreement, I’d divorce him. His response to this was: “Jeez… So much for death do us part.”

I agreed two years ago to marry him. I may need to rethink if I can spend the rest of my life with someone whose primary concerns are tradition and sentiments.

Why I’m Done With r/childfree

I was a part of the Reddit’s childfree subreddit for four years. The subreddit has a (well-deserved) bad reputation. Of course, every group has its share of awful people. The problem is the awful ones are the loudest. It reached the point the subreddit was the focus of an article on Daily Dot.

For the most part, I tried to ignore the more toxic posts because overall, I did enjoy the subreddit, but I finally found the one that made me say “I quit”. For the sake of not bringing it more traffic, I will not share the link, but I did screenshot it.

You could say this is just one person, and that’s true. But much of the subreddit was hugely in agreement, and anyone who objected was downvoted to the point their comment was hidden or deleted. The subreddit hates “breeder pleasers” – childfree people who do not hate children, or like them – almost as much as they hate the existence of parents and children. The idea is a childfree person who likes kids or doesn’t hate them is justifying their lack of desire to be a parent. Or, you know, simply likes kids and is okay with saying that.

Aside from the obvious, the biggest problem with the sub is many of them proclaim they hate to be judged, but do the exact same thing about parents and children, and will defend it with the excuse of needing to vent. Putting aside the utter absurdity of being irritated at someone’s mere existence (especially when they are not bothering you), this person is proud they sound like a borderline sociopath (“I’m selfish. I’m unsympathetic. I am that monster”), and the majority of the subreddit agrees this is okay.

Hilariously (not the good funny), this person insisted they shouldn’t be judged based on this one post, and hating parents and children isn’t the center of their being. A child’s mere existence is bothersome to you, but hatred doesn’t rule your life. Right…

It’s not so much the post as the nearly united agreement in the comments that was the straw that broke the camel’s back for me. Even if I continue to consider myself childfree (yes, I’m debating that), I have no desire to be part of any community that’s ultimately a hive mind. No, I don’t think it’s okay to be angry at the world because someone under age eighteen dares to exist in your space. No, I don’t think it’s okay to be a narcissist, let alone proud of it. And no, I absolutely don’t think hating parents and kids is prerequisite for considering yourself childfree. If my account wasn’t four years old, I’d delete it and make a new one just to have any and all posts from r/childfree out of my history. I genuinely want nothing to do with the subreddit anymore.

I have no children, nor do I intend to have any, but this person, and every person in the comments who thinks it’s a “brave” post for its honesty, is someone I hope I never cross paths with.

One of the several agreeing comments: I just can’t fathom enjoying being around the disgusting things.”

The reason this ticked me off a bit is children are not things. Perhaps if they stepped outside their circlejerk, the idea children could be pleasant company to some people wouldn’t be so unfathomable.

Another: “The Victorians had the right idea. Children should be seen but not heard and speak only when spoken to.”

I’ve ranted about that phrase twice before, so it should be obvious why this particular one bugs me. No, children are people who deserve respect and kindness as much as any adult, and if this is what the adults have to say, I’d much rather hear the kids talk if I have to listen to anyone. At least, they’re cute.

While there are extremists who believe not having kids is a sin or evil or any number of negative adjectives, r/childfree’s reputation isn’t because it’s a spot for people who don’t have kids. It earned that reputation by turning from a support community for those who dealt with real pressure (from family, friends, or conservative communities they lived in) into an echo chamber for confirmations their irritation that a child is alive on the planet is okay and normal. And apparently, they’re proud of it, so even they can’t argue any longer the sub’s reputation is undeserved. They want it like that.

Reddit as a whole isn’t known for being a friendly place, but that’s par for the course for social media in general. The childfree subreddit, however, is undoubtedly one of the worse areas. At the time I’m writing this, it has 663,625 followers, so one person leaving has zero impact, but I don’t want to have an impact.

Reading some replies to deleted comments I missed, it seems some of them felt the need to insist none of them want to hurt children and none of them would. I really want to believe that, but some years ago, there was a case of a father who murdered his young child and police discovered that subreddit in his browsing history. Someone who’s bitter and vindictive toward parents for no other reason than them being parents, and hates children “with literally every molecule in [my] body” (but supposedly, this hatred isn’t the center of their life), sounds very much like someone who, at the very least, would relish in hearing about child’s death, if not out to be the one who causes a child harm.

There is a subreddit called “true childfree“, which is not as active, but not toxic either (and unsurprisingly, it’s not liked by r/childfree). In the Daily Dot article, one of the mods stated you can filter out the hateful posts (which is true), but that doesn’t really change that the subreddit is a toxic pool. It merely hides the poison.

The upside is, assuming most of the subreddit’s followers are American, that’s about 0.2% of the population. Chances are I never will cross paths with these folks. Good.

Who Has It Harder: Kids or Adults?

My vote? Kids!

Yes, I’m an adult who thinks kids have it harder.

Life is generally hard, no matter what, but if there needs to be a vote, I say kids.

“But kids live and eat rent-free, have no responsibilities, yadda yadda!”

First of all, kids are forced to attend school, which absolutely is a responsibility. Kids have a 40-hour “work” week by the time they start learning how to read. Even my internship – a job I do without pay, so close enough – is only 30 hours a week, and I can choose whether I want to leave at 2:30 or 3:00. I can also take my lunch any time I want. Kids don’t have that freedom.

That’s why I say kids have it harder: they have no freedom. I remember feeling powerless as a kid, having zero say in anything that affected me, no matter how bad it was, being told to “stay in a child’s place”, and being assumed to be stupid because a child couldn’t possiby be right over an adult. As a kid, I could say the sky was blue, an adult could say it was pink, and I’d better not correct them because “I’m an adult and what I say is right”.

Yes, as an adult, I have to pay bills and money is a necessity. But, to an extent, I can choose where to work, and I will be compensated for my time with money. It’s outright illegal if I’m not. While I’m not paid for internship (I presume the laws are different for that), I still choose to be here and I come here because I want to, not because I’ll be punished if I don’t. I’d rather pay bills and have choices – freedom – in my life than give up the latter for lack of the former.

I can travel without supervison, stay out after dark (I go to the gym on occasion in the evening), don’t need permission to go outside, can decorate my room how I like, can buy my own electronics, can watch the shows I want without arguing over the television with my sister, can listen to the music I like, everything in my room belongs to me instead of someone else because “I bought it, so you’re just borrowing it”. I really could go on for a long time. I’ve spoken a lot on this blog about how my childhood sucked and my family is broken, but even if I had the most carefree, idyllic childhood imaginable, I think my feelings would be the same.

  • Kids have to stand for and recite the pledge of allegiance every morning. As a kid, I thought that was stupid, and as an adult, I still do. But I no longer have to do it! (Side note: No, reciting the pledge doesn’t mean someone respects the country. The peers who made my school life miserable recited it. You can’t claim to respect the country when you have no respect for people in the country.)
  • Kids have curfews and bedtimes. I might be tired, but if I want to go to bed at 1am on a “work” night, yay! More internet time!
  • No parental controls! Yes, I understand why they exist. I’m still glad I don’t have to deal with them! And I can lock my devices to keep other people out!
  • “No, you can’t have pizza for breakfast.” I can now!
  • I have a more decorated room now than I did as a kid. Because I buy everything for it, right down to my computer. Though, my favorite thing would be the plethora of stuffed animals on my bed.
  • Want something, but can’t buy it? As a kid, you’re out of luck. As an adult, unless money is extremely tight, you can save up for it. That’s how I got my computer!
  • I don’t get my hair done unless I want to. I admit this one is more personal, but I’m sure I’ve spoken about how obsessive my family is about appearance. My mother forced me to have hair extensions and styles I did not want that took hours, and yelled at me and degraded my appearance when I argued. Now, my family still complains, but I no longer have to abide by them, and they eventually shut up for the most part.
  • Kids wear the clothes their parents buy them. I wear the clothes I buy me. Without getting yelled at for not matching (Fashion rules can kiss my behind!).

I know most of what I listed are small things, but as Pinkie Pie once said, “One small thing can be the biggest thing of all”. Freedom is addicting! I remember when I first got my own room. I haven’t shared a room since, minus the time I lived in a homeless shelter, because after a taste of what it was like to have my own space and privacy (to the small extent I could with a sibling), I could never go back! It’s why my boyfriend and I will have separate rooms when we move in together. He’s never had his own room and I want him to experience that. I know he’ll be as addicted as me!

The only downside is people don’t think adults are cute like they do kids. But I wasn’t a cute kid (regularly got called ugly and was hated solely because I existed in some people’s space), so I didn’t have even that.

I’ll take adulthood and all of its challenges any day. That opinion may vary on some days, but I’d say 80% of the time, it’s a given.

What’s Assault?

Here’s a very controversial matter I’ll speak about: spanking. But I’m going to make it short. I just want an answer to this question.

A few days ago, I overheard what I think was a crime show my grandfather was watching. The episode was featuring a woman who’d escaped from a very abusive relationship, and she described some incidents of the abuse. One of them was when her husband had told her to lean over the hood of his/their car and proceeded to spank her with his belt. She outright said he was hitting on her behind, so it was what’s considered a spanking. She described the pain as being so terrible, she was hoping she would somehow melt into the engine of the car (or in other words, die right there on the spot) to avoid having to feel any more. She said every time she didn’t listen to her husband, he would do this to her.

This woman is an adult, so that is classified as abuse. But if she were a child, that would be discipline. Why? That’s my question. Why is this “abuse” when done to an adult, but “discipline” when done to a child?

Spoiled Like A Princess

First off, Happy St. Patrick’s Day! I figured I may as well throw it in since I’m posting on the holiday.

For someone who wants no children, I talk about them a lot. Then again, I have a strange knack for talking a lot about things I don’t have, whether I want them or not. Don’t ask. Chalk it up to “I think a lot”.

Yesterday, I saw a video on Facebook about a mother who takes her daughter to Disneyland several times a year because they have annual passes and live about 20 minutes away from the park. She sews costumes for her daughter. My first thought was, “Yeah, this is why I don’t need a daughter.”

I can’t deny it’s because I myself am female, but if I had a daughter, she would undoubtedly be a spoiled princess (or tomboy, if she preferred that)! If I had the finances and lived very close to Disneyland, it’s a safe bet she’d be going everyday. My only regret would be I couldn’t wear the costumes with her. Disneyland forbids guests over age 14 from wearing costumes. I understand the reason for the rule, but it’s one of the reasons I lost my desire to go years ago. Oh, well.

Funnily enough, my boyfriend also agrees. When I showed up him the video and told him the above, he replied we’d both spoil our non-existent daughter if we could. I was a little surprised to hear him say that because he does not like taking care of kids at all. The next thing he said was: “If I had the money, I would be spoiling [his niece].”

To me, it’s genuinely one of the cutest things he’s ever said. His niece is the exception to his dislike of caring for kids. Even I have to admit I love his niece, despite having zero familial relationship to her and only seeing her a handful of times, and she also likes me, to the point she was once screaming she wanted me after seeing me when I hadn’t been around her for some time.

However, it still prefaces why neither of us needs kids. We want the adorable parts of raising a child without the awful parts, but there’s no way to separate the two. It’s the reason I stick to fantasy and Sims games, and he sticks to being devoted to his niece. Children aren’t novelties. Dolls are for dressing up and parading around. There’s so much more to children, and they deserve parents who are willing to take all the awfulness along with the cuteness. I regularly hear raising children is 90% awful and only 10% good, but the 10% makes up for the 90%. I think it’s only worth it if you’re willing to accept those odds from the start, and even some people who are already parents aren’t. Ouch.

Still, I also think it’s ironic and a bit funny two people who do not want their own kids think nothing of spoiling our hypothetical child if she did exist. Or he. The mother from the video also has a son who she lets get in on the fun. I only emphasize “daughter” because the video mainly focuses on the daughter.