From time to time the question of kids comes up. “Grumpy,” people will say to me, “do you think you'll ever have kids?” The answer is an unequivocal no. NO. Nononononono. Nope. Absolutely not. No way. Not ever. No. Fortunately Mrs Grumpy (aka The Dreaded One) feels the same way.
Sometimes, if my interrogator is particularly stupid, they might assure me in a sagacious tone that one day I will change my mind. If they say this, it's probably a safe bet they they themselves have recently become a breeder. Suddenly they have access to the true meaning of life. They have been enlightened, and I am merely yet to see the light. Not all breeders are so annoyingly sanctimonious; many react with an each-to-their-own shrug. Non-breeders with procreation on their life-timetable might ask why no Little Grumpies are on the horizon, and my reasons have nothing to do with overpopulation and the relentless and ruthless destruction humans are wreaking upon an otherwise paradisiacal planet. No, it's not that.
Recently at a family get-together. The adults are catching up on what's been going on in each others lives while the kids (lets call them Domestic Terrorist 1 and Domestic Terrorist 2) occupy themselves as they see fit. Basically this involves pulling stuff from out of cupboards and converting apparently harmless objects into potentially lethal missiles whilst hijacking the adult conversation by remote control and holding it hostage until their demands are met.
Mum and Dad's sentences become slightly surreal: “So how have you been? Are you still working at what are you doing with that? PutthatdownIsaidputdownrightnow that place you were working at? How is Mummy said no! What did Mummy say? No that going for you?”
DT 1 tells me, “Uncle Grumpy, I play golf,” and I appreciate the heads-up because a split second later a hard plastic ball zings past my head and ricochets off three walls before rolling under the couch. No relief, however, as he has an arsenal of hard plastic balls which keep us on our toes as they fly about unpredictably, whizzing through the air and conking off walls and furniture.
Meanwhile, DT 2 has been sating her voracious appetite for chips. I watch in fascination as fistful after fistful of chips are pushed into her mouth until eventually the entire family sized box has been consumed. She eyes me levelly as she methodically makes her way through the box, like she's thinking, “Yeah, I know, you wanted some of this didn't you, wanted it badly, but you ain't getting' none of it.” I look at the brie and am about to make a move for it when DT 1 moves in. He gouges a fistful of the cheese out and packs it down into a satisfying slab on a water cracker and suddenly the gouge marks render the cheese just that little less appetising.
Sometimes the chaos and carnage dies down a little, but the silence only arouses suspicion, the alarm goes up and conversation is interrupted again as search parties scatter in all directions: “Where are you? What are you doing? Whatever you're doing you'd better stop it at once!”
At one point DT 2, having run out of chips to put into her mouth, pops one of the blue golf balls into her mouth. Her mouth is so tiny and petite that she can't close her lips over the ball completely. She pops the ball back out. This has amused her so she pops the ball back in like she's one of those carnival clown games. The ball pops back out with a little more force and her shoulders shudder this time. A faint look of confusion and fear flashes across her pretty features as she gags again, and suddenly she is Reagan and we're in the vomit scene from The Exorcist. The family-sized packet of chips makes a reappearance (probably as astonished to see us again as we are to see it) and lands mostly on the mother who appears disgusted and resigned in equal parts. The father whisks DT 2 off to the bathroom (later to emerge stating, “Great. Bonus points – I get to change her nappy too.”) while the mother sits with cupped hands of vomit and trying to figure out what to do next.
What's that? Am I ever going to have kids? Um – no. Nononono.
Grumpy is Lee Bemrose, freelance writer, firstname.lastname@example.org