Archive for October, 2008


We’re about to have baby #8.  Could come any time this week, or even next week, as long as we’re speculating.  I have the 22nd in the family birth pool, but since I’ve never won before, it seems unlikely this will be the actual delivery date.  Stay tuned, as they say.

Oh, and because this is so unusual, let me say that we do not know the sex of the child.  We have never known up to the time it was born.  People ask all the time, “do you know if it’s a boy or a girl?” to which I answer “has been every time so far,” which hasn’t been satisfactory to the questioner.  Then they say “don’t you find out?” and I say “sure we do.  We’ve never had any trouble telling once we get it into the light.”

There’s been a great deal of debate on this subject, about whether it’s “better” to know beforehand or not, and to that I really have nothing useful to add, except that of course I have very definite opinions about it.  Since this is my blog, I shall state them.

It is absolutely better not to know.  I dismiss with contempt those people that contend that they have to know the sex of the child in order to “be prepared”, as if there were some sort of technique to practice for cleaning the kid’s poop off, that will be a complete mystery if not rigorously field-tested beforehand.  Only YOU care whether the kid is dressed in brown or gold or blue or red or pink.  The kid absolutely does not.  Nor will it scar the kid if people can’t tell at a glance that it’s a boy or a girl.  So if you have to know in order to “get prepared” then you have problems and need psychiatric help, because it certainly isn’t anything to do with the kid.

I’ve heard about thirty different women tell me that they found out they were having a boy, and they really, really wanted a girl, and then they had to carry the &(#^(^@$# around for another six months anyway.  How stupid is that?  Leave aside the problematics with being disappointed in a baby at all, and just consider how tough it is to carry around a huge ungainly weight for months and months knowing that the payoff in the end is not going to be what you want.  Why on earth would you want to know a thing like that? 

And don’t try this “but you’ll be so disappointed if it’s not what you want that you’ll take it out on the kid” tripe, either.  I’ve got seven, was right about the sex of exactly ONE of them, and never had a second’s regret once the kid was in the house.  That’s the kicker, folks.  ONCE THE KID IS HERE, you’ll love him or her no matter what.  BEFORE the kid is here, it’s a really big squashy weight that you cannot put down, that gives you indigestion and forces you to wear ugly clothing and go to the bathroom sixteen times a day, makes you tired and irritable and ever-so-slowly-destroys your figure and then kicks you internally as if it’s all your fault.  And that’s it.  You can’t love that.  A baby, you can love, boy or girl.  But it’s got to get here to be lovable.

And then there are those that contend that the surprise is the same no matter when you find out.  This is so stupid as to be laughable.  This argument proposes that I can tell you in May what your Christmas gift is, because, hey, the surprise is the same either way, isn’t it?  Anyone that does any rudimentary thinking on the subject will know instantly that the reason you TiVo 24 and demand on pain of death that nobody tell you in advance the number of people Jack Bauer tortures in this hour is that the suspense is part of the payoff.  Sure, you can find out at month five that you’re having a boy, and I invite you to watch the looks on the faces of the people you tell, and compare that to the looks on the faces of the people I will tell on Wednesday (because I’m going to win the pool).  There is absolutely no comparison.  The suspense is part of the payoff here.  We’ve already invested nine months in this kid, and still we do not know the most basic thing about it – we don’t know if it’s a boy or a girl.  This is a fundamental part of the character of a person (Scott Card argues that it is the fundamental part), and we don’t know the answer.  How silly is it to print billions of dollars of “It’s a Boy!” banners every year if there isn’t something viscerally satisfying about having to actually meet the kid before you can find out which kind of balloon to hang?

These days, it’s even worse.  People schedule their births (not their own.  At least not yet.  But you know what I mean).  So we’ve gone from “Hey, Mom and Dad, we had the baby! And it’s a girl!” to “Hey, Mom and Dad, we had the baby!” to “Hey, Mom and….ah, yeah, we’ll be home Thursday.”  Oh yeah, THAT’S improvement!  Everyone already knows what the sex is, and now they know when the delivery is, too.  Highly suspenseful.  Fun all around.  It’s worse than buying a car, because only one or two dealerships are going to abuse you the way the baby will be abusing Mom on the way to the big event.  The big question goes from “who is this kid” to “did it weigh one or two ounces more than his brother?”  Am I the only one that can see how genuinely pathetic that is?

Yes, yes, ultrasounds are necessary for many women.  We even had one back when we had Crispin, or maybe Mira (Jeanette says it was Nicholas.  He turned 14 this spring).  Have the tape around here somewhere.  Never had another one.  Many women are not so fortunate, and I acknowledge this, and follow it with this – if you were unconscious, would they still be able to do the ultrasound?  Yes?  Then you aren’t necessary to the procedure, and you don’t have to watch.  So choose not to.  If you don’t have to get one, don’t.  If you do have to, tell them to put the monitor on the other side of the room or something.  You’ll thank me.

We don’t know what the kid is because we choose not to know until she’s ready to tell us.  We don’t know when the kid will be born (well, okay, I do) because she’s running the show and can’t talk underwater.  The kid won’t be able to do one blessed thing, won’t be in control of one thing on earth for the next year.  Can’t she have just one moment, just one, where she is?

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So, Jones, How Bad is It?

This economy thing, I mean.  The answer is, pretty bad, I think.  A tumbling stock market is very bad for nearly everyone, because not only does it remove several hundred billion in wealth from people’s 401(k) and IRA accounts, it takes out huge amounts of bank reserves and available expansion capital.  And it hurts confidence in the economy, which causes people to hoard, which takes money out of circulation and essentially makes it impossible to ameliorate the conditions above.

The government is pretty close to powerless against the market, and always has been.  Further evidence of this this morning.

My advice remains: focus on the stuff you can control, work hard, be kind to children and strangers, call your mother and tell her you’re fine.  Put some seeds in a small pot in a sunny window and keep them damp.  Do real things that have lasting value.  Pray.  Pray very, very hard.  Exercise.  Breathe deeply.  Sing.

You should do this stuff even when things are well.  When, as right now, they are decidedly not well, you should do them even harder.  I watched closely the LDS General Conference this weekend, and I am persuaded that this might, indeed, be the big one right now, instead of a few years from now. 

Scott, you have been warned.  But I’d still check with Mom.

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