Thomm Quackenbush, author

On Writing and Dissection | 2009 | Come On, Party People

12.29.09 10:17 a.m.

Hello, babies. Welcome to Earth. It's hot in the summer and cold in the winter. It's round and wet and crowded. At the outside, babies, you've got about a hundred years here. There's only one rule that I know of, babies - "God damn it, you've got to be kind."  

-Kurt Vonnegut

 


Left 2 Breed

Rhys and Kei  
How John Lennon got started

If everyone waited to be ready to have children, our species would die out. If you have any instinct toward reproduction, you leap first and build what wings you can on the way down. Or you simply forget to take your birth control pill or wear a condom and deal with the logical consequences.

Still, it often seems one must make the choice between spawning and living out those fantasies one accumulates through high school and college. Despite this, many can't seem to wait to begin a family. Judging from smiling pictures of Baby's First Christmas, I don't think most people regret their decision to become parents as soon as they are in a relationship that could sustain it (or sooner).

My sister-in-law Becky had her third daughter under the pretense that it was to keep from being enlisted to fight in a war (it was pregnancy or my mother would break Beckyís thumbs), though really because it was just time for my brother to have a child who was his by blood and not simply love and devotion. As she already had two daughters (and she would end up giving my brother two sons in addition to my niece Alyssah), it was only a slight additional complication to have another daughter.
Rhys  
"I'm going to Hogwarts to learn to fight zombies!"

Visiting with Keilaina and Dan brings parenting to the forefront of my mind. Their son, Rhys, is eighteen months, all both precocious and adorable. Rhys shows a curious attachment to a broom and, when we three play Beatles Rock Band, he wonít stay away from the drums. He wobbles very slightly as he toddles from place to place at top speed, one of his legs slightly shorter than the other in a way he is apparently too young to fix. It is easy to see an amalgam of his parents in his face, Keiís eyes and Danís cheeks. Every time I see Rhys, he is transformed more into a human being and I cannot stop myself from delighting at his obvious personality.

Dan apologizes for the fact that we have to stay in for the whole of my visit, though I am more than content with video games and Chinese food leftovers. He mentions several times wanting to go to a bookstore or simply spend time elsewhere, but Keiís motherís tenant cannot be used as a babysitter. This irritates Dan, but there can be no argument.

Even within the bounds of the house, we have to limit our activities. Though Kei details a long dream that prophesies that Rhys will become a zombie killer, this doesnít mean that she and I can continue to play Left 4 Dead once Rhys rises from his nap. The violence against reanimated corpses on the screen, even when I can barely make them out against the gray mist of the background, is too much for him. Dan goes so far as to shield Rhysís eyes until we stop playing seconds later.
Rhys  
"I don't wanna work, I just wanna bang on my drum all day!"

In all ways, having a child changes oneís life inexorably. Even for those of my students who pawn their children off on their parents as new siblings, it is impossible to fully return to a place of carefree innocence. When Keilaina is out of the room, joining Rhys is his nap, Dan mentions that he had hoped to finish college and travel a bit with his small family before adding another person to it, but one incident of unprotected sex two months ago, a week before Dan articulated this hope to Keilaina, resulted in a new pregnancy. They will manage together, as they vowed to always do, but it is other than how Dan had conceived of things. At least they will one day have enough family members to all play Left 4 Dead together and isn't that the most important thing?

Soon in Xenology: Maybe a job, parties.

last watched: True Blood
reading: The Zombie Survival Guide
listening: Kate Rusby

On Writing and Dissection | 2009 | Come On, Party People

Thomm Quackenbush is an author and teacher in the Hudson Valley. Double Dragon publishes four novels in his Night's Dream series (We Shadows, Danse Macabre, and Artificial Gods, and Flies to Wanton Boys). He has sold jewelry in Victorian England, confused children as a mad scientist, filed away more books than anyone has ever read, and tried to inspire the learning disabled and gifted. He is capable of crossing one eye, raising one eyebrow, and once accidentally groped a ghost. When not writing, he can be found biking, hiking the Adirondacks, grazing on snacks at art openings, and keeping a straight face when listening to people tell him they are in touch with 164 species of interstellar beings. He likes when you comment.



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