14 October 2007

You have how many kids?

I just got back from a conference this weekend where I met quite a few people.

You’ve been to these things, right? You go to the sessions and write down notes you know you’ll probably never look at again unless, years later, you’re looking for something totally unrelated and come across them. And you read them over and say, “Oh, yeah. I remember this conference/speaker.” Then you put it back in the pile to be found the next time you’re looking for something else totally unrelated – until then, promptly forgotten.

After the different speakers, we all mill around and share small-talk.

Always (and, yes, I can use the word always in this sense) someone will ask me about my family. I tell them I have five kids and they raise their eyebrow. I know what they’re thinking – either they’re my age and remember the zero-population-growth goal...

Wait. Please allow me to go off on a tangent.
I’ll get back to my kids – I promise.

Al Gore just won the Nobel Peace Prize for… um, I’m not really sure, but I know I’ll never feel the same about this prize EVER again… unless, of course, I win. And then it will rise in my esteem to the quality and awe it once held…

Anyway – he thought up this wonderful way for the ultra rich to feel good about their wasteful energy consumption (now, remember people – these are my words and my feelings and just because I wrote them down doesn’t mean you have to agree with me, nor do you have to send me nasty emails about how stupid I am because I fail to agree with you. I gave up years ago trying to convince anybody I am right and they are wrong, frankly, because everyone has their own truths directly in association with their own experiences… that is my disclaimer, now please allow me to resume) by paying some large corporation the amount of money equal to the ‘carbon footprint’ each wasteful person applies to this earth.
In turn, this corporation is supposed to use this money to work on lowering pollution in one way or another. I know I’ve boiled this down to a nutshell (sorry allergymom.com for the slur. I hope it doesn’t cause a reaction), but that is basically the idea of the footprint fallacy.

I have a few problems with this. You know, things which just don’t compute?

* First – Just because you pay a few bucks (comparative to your income), your energy waste doesn’t decrease. It just makes you feel better about being wasteful. The more energy you waste = the more money you contribute = the better Americans you are. Pat yourselves on the backs.
* Second – huh?
* Third – um, I think I’ll go back to the two problems above.
* Fourth – Soon all the energy waste and ‘carbon footprint’ culpability will be placed on Joe Schmoe who is only trying to make ends meet; can’t afford gasoline so he walks to work; grows his own vegetable garden because he doesn’t have the money for food and is too proud to take food stamps or welfare (which is a program, in my opinion, that exacerbates the social deficit problem). He won’t be able to even pay the… uh, I don’t know. Let’s just say $100/month… to zero out his carbon footprint. Therefore all of these wonderful SUV driving, million-dollar-home owning, fly-across-the-world-for-a-burger people will be secure in the knowledge they did their part to make this world a better, greener place.

Damn you, Joe Schmoe! You’re ruining our country. Off with your head!

Now, I hate to inform you Al Gore did not come up with this concept.

Back in 1987, when I had my third child – which screwed up the zero-population growth initiative touted by the media at the time – I came up with a brilliant plan:

Daughter #1 aligns under me.
Daughter #2 aligns under her father.
My brother, a wonderful and brilliant man, decided years ago he never wanted to father a child, thereby allowing me to place daughter #3 in line with his column.
Zero population growth – no offspring footprint! I am in alignment with the ‘good’ people of the United States.
(I’ve since screwed up this incredible strategy by birthing two more females. Does anybody have an empty column or two to sell so I can feel better about myself?)

I think I’ll sue Gore for stealing my idea.

Unless, of course, he thought of it before 1987 –which suggests he takes a long time to implement a plan.
By the way, have you noticed the media has since all but abandoned the zero-population growth scheme? I wonder why. It does take the onus from me, however. Life is good.

Okay. I’m done. Back to the main point of the story (if I ever had one.)
...or they’re ten or so years younger than me, when it became the in-thing to wait until their 30’s to have a child.

(I’ll wait for you to go to the top of this post to read what I had written so you can catch up. I had to.)

I always get the same responses:

“Five children?!”

“Yes. And all girls.”

“All girls?! Bless your heart.”

Okay – another tangent.

I lived in the Southern US from 1999 to 2005. I’ve heard “bless your heart” too many times to mention. After observing and watching, I learned the true meaning of the phrase. It means: “You’re so stupid.”
Stay with me here.
You see someone trip.
A proper woman walks over and helps them up saying: “You tripped on that little ol’ thing? Why, bless your heart.”
Someone spills coffee down their front. You hear the person next to them say: “Oh, my goodness. That coffee is hot. Did you get burnt? Bless your heart.”
And then, as I said: “You have five girls? Bless your heart.”
Don’t take my word for it. Try it out. The next time you hear “bless your heart” fill in the words “you’re so stupid” and see if they fit. In my experience, they fit like a glove. And now, back to my story.

They raise their other eyebrow. Then the conversation goes either one way or another… “What are their ages” or “You gonna try for a boy?”
...again, I say “huh?”
Think about that one, people.
Am I going to try for a boy?
At such question, I slap my forehead with the palm of my hand and say, “Damn! Why didn’t I try for a boy when I had the chance?”

Then: “You don’t look like a mother of five.” (Thank you, but I’ve always wondered and never asked – how is a mother of five supposed to look?) Or: “Wow, you must have started early in life.”

I was 22 when I had Diana. I grew up in a little western town – Lander, Wyoming. All of my friends and associates were married with kids by the time they were 19. I was considered ‘old’ when I married at 21. Nowadays this is considered - in most American cultures - to be too young and girls are encouraged to wait until at least their late 20’s to be married and into their 30’s to become mothers.

I did both – kids in my early 20’s and kids in my mid-late 30’s. I’ve been a mother of prepubescent female children for over 23 years now.

Bless my heart.

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pass the popcorn, please!