Something strange happens when your friends all have children and you remain childless. Sure you stay in touch and get together when you can, but something happens that alters things from what they once were to having oddly invisible barriers and obstacles now in the path.
You know the kind of obstacles I’m talking about, such as needing to be home for the children or having to find a babysitter so please make your plans far enough in advance to accommodate this. Barriers that prevent certain things from being acceptable topics, because lets face it, little ears pick up all manner of things. And there are some places you simply can’t take a baby so what you do with your friends alters too.
As a childless couple, both Beloved and I have found ourselves in rather odd places when out with friends who have become parents. The latest odd event has left Beloved shaking his head. He and his friends had been planning a get together for five months, making sure everyone’s work and school schedules wouldn’t get in the way. They booked accommodations, a boat and a captain as well as plans based on “charting”.
When the time came, I bid him a lovely trip away and settled down to the stillness of house without him in it. Actually what I did was irrelevant, but lets say that my attempts at trying a few recipes resulted in the oven needing a huge clean. I had assumed (I know foolish of me) that they had fun on their boat trips and just maybe he was one step closer to understanding more about Nessie.
Apparently that is not even close to what happened though. Instead one of his friends, at the last-minute, ended up having his fourteen year old son stay with him on the weekend of the trip. Being a responsible adult, this friend let the other men know that he was going to have to either pull out of the trip or let his fourteen year old son tag along. Given his age, no one thought it would be too challenging to have the young man on the trip.
Of course no one counted on the fourteen year old being bored, and creating all sorts of issues. Beloved came home saying he wasn’t going to plan any more of these trips with people who have children, even if the children do not live with them. He said the all-boys trip quickly became an all out disaster with the fourteen year old trying to tell the adults what to do.
Now I’m not a child of divorce, nor is Beloved so we don’t know what divorce might do to a child. But there are enough children of divorce in this world that it isn’t a rarity. And the divorce that impacted this child’s life happened when he was six. So it was a while ago, but his father has always been in his life. So I’m not sure if that’s why the fourteen year old chose to behave the way he did.
Beloved told me that you could draw a line between those men who have children and those who don’t on that trip. The childless ones weren’t as inclined to make the trip a bit more about the child, nor were they as inclined to give into his moans. The fathers were more likely to want to cut things short and head back to shore so the child could have “an ice cream” or “screen time”. And the fathers informed the non-fathers they had not right to say anything regarding the child or his impact on the trip. Because they weren’t fathers and just didn’t get it.
Beloved told me that he agreed with the fact he wasn’t a father. But if he was a father no child of his would behave the way that fourteen year old boy had behaved. The words self-absorbed, spoiled, selfish, and inconsiderate were said. So were the words never again. As in never again was he taking a trip with that child. Never again was he going to stretch out as far to accommodate those with children because they certainly don’t seem to reciprocate.
And beneath those words, spoken only to myself is the wall that happens all too often between the childless and the parents. The wall of differences, distance, lack of understanding, view points and a million other things. And if we aren’t careful, we build that wall, brick by brick until we can’t see over it. In time we forget who all is behind that wall or this wall as we take off here, fly out there and generally just get on with the getting on of life.