Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Love them, love their kids

Right before I moved to Charlotte a year ago, I was strolling down a sidewalk in Oakland, Calif., headed for the door to my gym. Now, I'm not one of those chicks who tries to look cute during workouts; I wear faded T-shirts, beat-up leggings and I usually don't even comb my hair. So imagine my surprise when I heard a "Yo, 'scuse me. 'Scuse me!"

I glanced over in surprise to find a guy piloting his car slowly down the street, keeping pace with me. "Yes?" I said, assuming he wanted directions.

"You got any kids?" he asked.

"What?" I answered, thinking I must've misheard him.

"Sons," he said loudly. "Do you have sons?"

"Uh, no."

"You got a good memory?" he responded.

Where was he going with this? "Sure," I said.

"Then remember this," he said, and proceeded to give me his phone number. After he had me repeat it back to him and I solemnly promised to remember it (riiiiight - the number was forgotten by the time I took my next step), he sped up and headed off.

After I got over the fact that I had just been hit on as I headed to the gym on a Sunday morning ("He shoulda been in church," my mom would've muttered), it hit me what had really happened.

Dude didn't want to know if I was married. Dude didn't even want to know my name. Dude just wanted to know if I had kids. And when I didn't, I was suitable for a hook-up.

I'm sure many of you have had similar experiences where you were immediately accepted or discarded, depending on your child status. And I will admit that I used to be one of those people doing the accepting and discarding.

"I will NEVER date a man who has a kid," I vehemently swore for years. It was the ultimate deal-breaker: parenthood. No way would I ever have children, I told myself. I hated kids, and kids hated me right back. Babies cried when they took one look at me. I didn't have the patience for youngsters and their endless questions, and as only child, didn't have much experience.

But then I started going out with a man who was cute, fun, clever and never failed to make me laugh. He was divorced with weekend custody of his 8-year-old daughter. A voice inside kept telling me not to get involved with a man who had a child, but we had such a great time together that I kept seeing him. We fell for each other ... and I fell for the kid, too.

In the process, I learned a lot about myself. While it's true that I don't want children of my own, I was lying to myself when I said I hated kids. In reality, I was afraid of them - afraid of their boundless energy (how could I keep up?) and those endless questions (what if I don't know the answers?). Babies cried when they saw me because everything about me - facial expression, body posture, the tone of my voice - screamed "KEEP AWAY!!" But that little girl, with her open, honest face and love of sports and pink nail polish, quickly won me over.

I no longer see that guy; in fact, he has remarried and now has two kids. But you know what? Babies love me. They reach for me and gurgle at the goofy faces I make. I can have conversations with elementary schoolers and laugh at their corny jokes and accept their spontaneous hugs. And I would have no problem dating other dads.

For all of you out there who still have children on your list of deal-breakers, I totally understand. I'll be the first to say I'd rather be with a man who doesn't have kids. But in this day and age, with the steady divorce rate and rising number of single moms and dads, it would be pretty easy to miss out on an awesome person simply because they also happen to be an awesome parent.


Anonymous said...

Some guy doesn't even bother to get out of his car, starts off with "Yo!" followed by "You got any kids" - then rattles off his number and makes you REPEAT IT BACK, and you do??!!! You don't need to be writing a relationship blog. You need professional relationship advice.

Anonymous said...

She said she did not call him and the number was forgotten with the next the blog.

Anonymous said...

That's right, anonymous 10:13 am, read the blog again! She just repeated it back to him to appease him at the moment. She said she forgot it immediately. Of course she didn't call him. What woman would? Read something before posting!

Anonymous said...

Maybe both of you should re-read what I wrote. I did not say that she called him back. I knew from reading the blog that she repeated the number back and said she forgot it. Repeating the number back is bad enough. Why would anyone take orders from a random rude stranger. Any guy who approaches a woman in such a rude way should not be "appeased"...he should be told to get lost. Otherwise you are only encouraging that behavior. And someone who writes about relationships should know that. Why don't the two of you go take a reading comprehension course before you reply to someone else!

Anonymous said...

I can read and comprehend perfectly well, thank you very much. And when I said she didn't call him, I wasn't saying you said she did. I was only reiterating what happened. Lighten up! We don't need to be arguing about a stupid incident that didn't even happen to us!