They want a baby not a human being, these newly crowned married couples. They envisage only a small wobbling baby, bewidered, and cute. Or at most a cheeky toddler, prising things open to release the genie. . Nobody wants the hateful teenager, a lanky streak of resentment and spots, least of all an adult with its awkward politics and adverserial intellect. They want tiny defenceless, pathetically vulnerable babies, objects of tearful adoration, . And they want babies because babies are 'theirs', whereas an adult will always escape them and their domestic gulag. And even when they, the babies, become fully grown human beings, the parent insists on seeing only the baby. You're still my baby they opine, you're still my little boy, my little girl. They call it unconditional love but it's love on condition that you never cease being a baby. When they look at you, your parents, they see something that is uniquely theirs, their baby, they see something in you more than yourself, the Baby that you once were. They will always see you as a baby in adult drag and fail to take you seriously. And they will love their grandchildren more than you, seeing therein the reincarnation of the eternal baby. . Why do they have babies... to continue their DNA, their watermark. It's got your eyes, his nose, my twinkle, they say, as if its an assembalge of parental parts, a monstrous mirror wherein they see themselves. But more than that, in return for having a baby they receive of course a graduation certificate from the Social Order, confirming their status as a fully paid up member.
So actually they don;t want a baby at all. They don't want the tiny
precise machine, one of the many through which Nature's intellect shines
and overwhelms us, they don't
want the dazed mammal with its alien eyes, the strawberry
heart's loud and scary insistance, the baby lit up with ghosts of
joy, with jolts of surprise, that play on its face and vanish, they
announcing the destruction of the old regime, the start of an ethical
life, the sacrifice of your Couple's evenings infront
of the telly, the job in the city, the whole bourgious citadel, announcing the birth of a new world, they don't want this anarchist's bomb made
of instinct, breaking you
open with screams and glee, hysterical with trauma then wobbling with
joy.. they don't want all the riddles of existence newly and snugly curled into a question mark in your arms, they
want the revolutionary baby; no, they want the cute and complementary baby,
the socially ratified baby, the designer baby, the piece in the jigsaw, the baby as
social promotion, the baby as object, the baby as
sign, as token, as badge and, with it, all the complementary titles of 'being a mum'
and 'being a dad'..all the vain honorifics bestowed by the World, the
symbolic scaffoldings and supports, something to post on Facebook, a
narrative of Success, without which most of us cannot live.
whom I used to call friends are now merely parents and declare this to
be their vocation. Parents with a two-a-penny middle class rent-a-baby
called Harold or somesuch vintage name, or a predictably outlandish
name, like Zeberdee. "Do you want some pesto Zeberdee?" the mother
cooes, as Zeberdee looks on bored and indifferent.