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Chuckie Cheese & Me

alec vanderboom

Saturday afternoon I had a surreal experience. I stuffed cold pizza into jolly Maria's mouth and made small talk with our new neighbor's two celibate aunts, one 19 and one 54. I chatted about college life with one and internet business plans with another. There was one of those natural lulls in conversations between complete strangers. The 19 year old gazed at my fuzzy red headed daughter and said "Do you think you'll have any more?"

"We're open. I just love babies." I leaned down to give my littlest one a kiss.

I looked up to find complete horror on both maiden aunts' faces. "How could you want more! I'm NEVER having kids. They are such a pain in the neck" the 19 year old shouts.

"They're dirty. They're noisy. They are so much work. How could anyone tied down their life with children?" the 50 year old shouts even louder.

I sat there in meek silence. I feed more cold pizza to Maria. I rubbed her fuzzy hair. I broke eye-contact with the angry aunts to concentrate on helping Miss Maria sip Coke from a big girl cup.

After a few minutes, it was apparent that these dual objections weren't the usual fight about my "too big" family size, it was 100 % anti-child in general because "Kids ruin your life!"

That's when I started noticing the balloons bobbing over both aunts' heads. The bright writing that cheerfully announced "5". Those birthday balloons would belong to the little nephew who lives with the older aunt.

"We're having this "why do people bother to have children?" debate in the middle of a 5 year old's birthday party at Chuckie Cheese," I thought.

Crazy. Crazy.

I miss our parish nuns, who also "choose" to live a life without children-- but the nun's choice makes them rumple my baby's hair all the more affectionately at Daily Mass.