Thing is, the 13 year old that spent a week living with us was unlike anyone I'd ever spent any time with. Calm, cool, smart, analytic, intelligent but not pushy, didn't try to prove himself or his intelligence, content. Happy. Played video games like a mofo, exhibited zero interest in the things that his older brother liked at the same age (namely sports games, chicks, and punk rock). Likes Pink Floyd and playing TF2, big into Futurama. Not a huge fan of food or sugary things.
Smart, great sense of humor (very mature, great sense of the absurd), pliable to new ideas and new experiences. Precisely the sort of kid I'd want.
We did all sorts of stuff, but he demanded nothing; he was content to hang out, talk, play video games, share odd videos and info on the internet, drive around aimlessly, whatever. I ended up with more time off than I thought I'd have, and we ended up all over town despite the heat and a city designed for active 20-somethings with a cocktail fetish. It was good.
One night we're on the couch and he's showing me stupid Youtube videos, stuff people have made of TF2 characters and odd animated craziness. I show him the crazy stuff that I've collected, the really nutty King of the Hill video remixes, the odd music video. A very late night of crazy memetic enjoyment.
His whole visit, it was a very good thing, is what I'm saying.
When I dropped him off at the airport, I was able to escort him to the gate. Hanging out with him as the departure time drew near, we both got quiet.
"I'm not sure how to put this," I said to him, "but I think you've changed my mind about something, and it's something no one has ever been able to change my mind about."
He looked at me, puzzling it over. "Is it about kids?" he asked.
"Yeah," I said. "Yeah. I know folks who have kids. The younger ones are great. But some of those kids, as they have aged, they've all turned into problems wrapped in problems, absorbed in themselves. Except for maybe my co-worker's kids, but they're some superhuman experiment. You, though...we share genes. You should be a hell raising maniac" (to this he lifted his arms over his head and waved them back and forth saying "AAAAAAAARRRRRRR") "but instead you're this incredible human being."
He shrugged, unable to respond...he's uncomfortable with praise.
I told him I was going to miss him, and he said he'd miss us too, and that he had a lot of fun with us. When he boarded, I walked back out into the heat toward the car, actually tearing up. Not just because he's family, and not just because he's such a great kid and I was missing him terribly. No, it was also something else. Something very deep shifted in me. Some shelf of ice broke free.
That night, I tell the wife, hey, maybe we should have a kid.
I've spent the rest of the week since then in a very deep, very quiet space. I'm trying to answer a set of concerns I've had since I was old enough to procreate. I've got to sort out, do I want every decision to affect a biology that will extend far into the future? Is this world something I want to impose on another human? Am I egoless enough to properly focus on a child? Is my marriage stable? Is the future stable?
I'm thinking. I've literally never thought about it this much before; I'd made my mind up about this when I was 20, and all my confirmation bias supported that decision. But now?
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