As I continue my battle with Jeremy Coon, and bungle every opportunity at success I get, my thoughts turn to having children and achieving revenge through them. Some call this "living vicariously." I call this my only chance.
Rachel and I talk about what our kids would be like if we conceived them naturally, without donors or genetic engineering, and the results we imagine aren't pretty. Here are some possibilities we've discussed, all equally troubling:
Infant Death Syndrome kids
Kids with brown eyes
Kids with eczema
Kids who are circumcised
Kids with concave chests
* Suicidal kids
Kids who eat candy
Kids who go to school
Kids who believe in Santa, don't believe in God, do believe in an afterlife, yet hypocritically dismiss reincarnation as "unscientific nonsense on stilts"
Kids who have sex
Babies who smoke
Kids with different politics than ours
* Those other possibilities are scary and probably inevitable, but this is the one that freaks me out the most, because I'm sure of it: any kids Rachel and I have will be dissatisfied with the world's injustices and will kill themselves before they turn 18.
Maybe not all of them, ala Virgin Suicides, but at least one or two (we're going to have five, Rachel, and that's that). In a sense, it's every parent's secret dream for their child to die a virgin - but when they are 100, not when they are 16.
Knowing that all the effort you put into raising kids into their terrible teens would be tragically wasted gives one pause. Especially women, I would think, since they have to birth the bastards.
So should Rachel and I have kids, knowing for a fact they won't tolerate how fundamentally disappointing the world can be, and will take their lives by their own hands?
Will the joy they bring us in their early years before those sad, premature ends be worth it? Kids are known for their "toddler wisdom," looking at the world with naked, uncorrupted eyes. Wasn't it a child who proclaimed "The emperor has no clothes" when everyone else quietly deluded themselves? Yeah, but it was Hans Christen Andreson - an adult - who wrote that fairy tale. He made the child say that.
Most "toddler wisdom" usually amounts to confusion over phrases that have corrupted, contradictory, or otherwise complex meanings. "Why do they keep them alive if it's called the death penalty," a toddler might ask. I could have thought of that. In fact, I just did. I want to hear what my genius adult kids would have to say. Alas, I'm afraid that is not in the cards.
No matter how brilliantly we teach them, no matter how deftly we navigate the ideal balance between freedom and discipline, no matter how macrobiotically we feed them, no matter how extensively we expose them to the world's varied countries and cultures, no matter how much we shelter them from the unnecessary cruelty of life (public school), once they see that the world as a whole doesn't live up to their glorious visions of what it could be, our kids will kill themselves - sloppily, bloodily, painfully, and without a note in sight.
When I first told Rachel this, she was disturbed and sad. Now she thinks it's beautiful.
Granted, it's also possible we could have creative, well-adjusted kids with blue eyes and school spirit who would live forever.
But is it worth the risk?
I don't know... Rachel?