Friday, October 25, 2013

The School Bus

Every weekday morning I unconsciously wait for it to arrive.  The school bus.  It comes to pick up our only neighbour’s eldest boy to deliver him to Grade One.  I check the clock on the stove when I see it approaching down our shared gravel road and mentally note whether it’s early or late.  I indulge a guilty pleasure watching it pull out of their driveway and disappear over the little rise in the road.  

What it means is that I’ll have the freedom to work outside in our backyard and not hear him yelling “Hey!” over the fence at me until I either walk away or acknowledge him.  It means he won’t automatically scale the fence and trot over, at the slightest hint of encouragement, trailing his younger brother and their ill-mannered dog behind him.  He’s not a bad kid.  In fact, I think he has an above average intelligence.  He just doesn’t respect the boundary of our property line and intrudes on me without invitation. 

I wonder if his mother is as pleased to have him gone for the day as I am.  Given the way I hear her shrieking profanities at him through their open windows, I suspect she is.  She’s not the sweet young thing she presents to the world.

I first announced my intention never to have children when I was a pre-teen.  It was met with nods and knowing smiles. It’s not that I don’t like kids, it’s just that I find it exceedingly difficult to relate to them.  Oddly enough, they gravitate to me like cats who zero in on the one person in the room who’s allergic to them.  It’s uncanny.  I’ve been told by other adult observers, it’s because I don’t talk down to them.  Personally, I think it’s because they’re sadists. 

I jest. 

Little people bring with them noise and messiness and chaos and, in truth, I’m a hermit at heart. I like my life to be peaceful. Time spent in quiet solitude is as essential to my existence as the air I breathe and my home is my sanctuary.

Society implies that it’s ‘unnatural’ for a woman not to want to reach that highest ideal of ‘Motherhood’ and to engage in the sacred ability to create life (cue the heavenly choir).  My decision not to have children was a conscious one.  Perhaps, it’s because I grew up in a home where violence prevailed.  Or, maybe it’s my innate aversion to the pain associated with childbirth.  Regardless of the source, the older I get, the more I know that it was the right choice for me.


I've enrolled in a writing e-course offered by Laurie Wagner that she calls Telling True Stories.  I'll be sharing the product of my work each week that results from the writing prompts she gives us.


Grace said...

Oh I love you for this!

First, it is well written. Second - This is me talking - with only one slight difference - I DO like children. I just never wanted any for the exact reasons YOU didn't want any. Abusive childhood - Check. Decided at an early age - Check. Like my independence/solitude/quiet; eww factor at being pregnant and giving birth - Check, check.

And I never talk down to children either - they aren't stupid just inexperienced. 2-year olds are my favorite people. Babies are boring (feed one end, keep the other end dry), adolescents try my patience beyond all comprehension. Children between 2 and 8 - cool!

And didn't you hate it when people said "Oh, you'll change your mind" No, no we didn't. We knew at an early age what was right for us. And really, I don't define myself by my reproductive organs or my use of them.

Love you for this!

neora chana said...

I'm with you; having children was never a priority of mine. Perhaps if I had married and my husband had wanted children, but not because of my maternal desires....

Western culture does not respect or understand introverts and their need for quiet. It is difficult.

Lin said...

I love this. I love that you embrace your decision and I love that you made it...for YOU. I can only imagine the comments that are made to you. :(

It's hard to be a woman--we have so many very difficult choices to make...and then other women don't respect the choice you have made! Whether it is to not have children, breastfeed vs. bottlefeed, stay at home vs. work, private vs. public school---why do we women do that to other women? Where is the support??!

C'mon girls, we can do better than this!!

On another note--that kid is desperate for someone to talk to him. That is why he comes to you--you don't yell at him like the other adults in his life. He isn't a brat--just a sad, lonely child.

I have never talked down to children--I think if you are the same way, you can have a chat with him the next time he crosses your boundaries. Just say "hello" and say you'd like to talk to him. And then explain why it isn't nice to just come over, bring his brother and the dog. Tell him about privacy and inviting oneself over--and about how you don't always want a visitor. Kids don't know it's rude unless you teach them that. Apparently nobody has spent more than 3 minutes with the kid teaching him niceties.


then try to just have a short conversation with him every now and then...over the fence. Make it short, sweet, and about him and his school day or whatever. Then, politely say that you have to go, but it was nice to chat....and walk away.

I promise you, if you throw the kid a bone and explain how sometimes you are busy and don't want company, he will respect it. But, please, try to give him 3 minutes every now and then---he is crying out for something good in his life. For some reason, he thinks you are approachable.

You'd do the same for some old lady next door, wouldn't you?

JaneK said...

Peace and solitude definitely decrease with kids.... But not all kids bring that kind of chaos. How sad for that boy who has a mom who screams like that. Makes me so sad.
I almost didn't have kids for a number of reasons. But something happened and I have one. I think if more women put thought into the child bearing decision as you have, we wouldn't have such a huge population of ill mannered kids. Your neighbor apparently doesn't enjoy hers and unfortunately that cycle will be perpetuated.
I don't think the presence of kids make a woman any more or less of a woman. It should not be what defines us as a woman. You rock, Carolynn!

Jean Nelson Paintings and Photography said...

You are a natural story teller. You will do well in this 'class'.

Carolynn Anctil said...

Thank you all for your wonderful feedback. If there's one thing I love about blogging, it's the incredible dialogue that can result and the diversity that we all bring to the table.

Nancy said...

I respect that you knew what you wanted and followed through with your decision...
I respect that you didn't let society dictate the life you would have...
I respect that you are open and sincere about how you feel and don't feel the need to wear a mask.....
In my childish thinking, I thought I could provide the perfect home I never had and prove that it was possible. My children paid a price for that thinking but thank God He has brought them into adulthood as responsible and loving adults.
I love my grandchildren beyond measure but I don't want to be with them 24/7....I have to have my space and it must be quiet so I am learning to navigate this land of balance.
Thank you for sharing your heart and a well written story....

altadenahiker said...

Motherhood -- yes or no? -- was never a question for me; it was a path I didn't care to explore, couldn't even picture it, really. The same way I couldn't picture being a dentist, or a corporate CEO, or a violinist. Worthy goals, all, for those who have the desire and talent. And I truly enjoy, in life and blogdom, stories from folks who put their hearts and minds to raising happy children. Like a well-played violin, it's beautiful music.

Beth P said...

Hi Carolynn, I just popped over from Jen's Muddy Boot Dreams to say Hi! Really my popping over is in response to your comments regarding Jen's "validation" post. Were we perhaps twins in another life? :D I could not have said things more eloquently, well, not that I'm all that eloquent but you said it all crystal clear.

Now that I am over here at your blog I of course read your most recent post on the school bus and I don't even know where to begin with my Amen sister... (and it's not that I'm overtly religious). Let's suffice it to say we have much in common including our thinking on many subjects :D So, I just wanted to say these few words and let you know that I will indeed be following your posts, especially from your writing course! I love taking writing classes... you come out of them seeing the world through different eyes than from when you first walked in!
Looking forward to a future cyber friendship in the blogging sisterhood!
Hugs and enjoy the weekend

JaneK said...

All of you guys rock! I love reading all of your comments :-)

Deb~Paxton Valley Folk Art said...

I applaud you for your honesty and recognize myself in your every word. Childless by choice and never having regretted it for a minute, children also gravitate to me like moths to a flame, despite the fact that I don't care for their company. I treasure my alone time, my contemplative time and am content with my own company; I have never felt the need to procreate to be a complete person, regardless of societal expectations. Bravo Carolynn for giving voice to what so many of us know to be true.

Jen @ Muddy Boot Dreams said...

Carolynn, you know when you go to visit a blog, and there is a shot that just stays with you for days...I know off subject, but still!

That bus shot is so it. It's gorgeous, layered, and there is such a beautiful texture to the way it is shot. It makes me in the nicest way possible, wish it was mine.

I so agree with Lin, and have been thinking about your little trespasser since I first read this. He is reaching out to maybe the only adult who isn't yelling at are a lifeline in his world right now. I know that you need space, and time, but my heart aches for that little one.

Snotty nose, and overly inquisitive nature and all.

Beautifully written, and all of your work.


Carolynn Anctil said...

Lin and Jen: I know our neighbour kids (plural, there are 2 boys and a girl all under the age of 6) are probably lonely, and hungry for adult company that doesn't berate them constantly. I wouldn't even mind having them over from time to time to visit, if they came over when invited. I'm not prepared to become a surrogate parent and I'm too young to be a surrogate grandmother. And, don't even get me started on the topic of their dog - maybe I'll save that for another day. *smile*

Thanks again, Everyone, for your words of support and solidarity. *grin*

Jane - know that Margaret and her mermaid tail would be welcome any time.

Sharon said...

I wanted to hug you when I first read this post. The honesty and insight ride on words that are clear and carefully chosen. You constructed a scene that set the stage and drew me in, ready to listen and prepared to understand. It takes self-awareness to know what's right for oneself and strength of character to live that truth. You have both ~

Catherine said...

Wayne and I only ever wanted one child. That's it. And once I had him so many people would comment wondering when we were going to have another one. For YEARS I endured questions and rude comments of "how selfish to only have one" (from strangers and family!!!). But once I had my one, I never go that 'baby itch' again.

I do not like babies and small children. I never have. Of course I loved my own, after all, he was perfect (wink*), but the older he got, the more I enjoyed him. And I am SOOOO thankful he was a quiet little guy and could always entertain himself. He was never needy. I don't know if I could have handled that.

When they have baby showers at work I avoid going into the coffee room. Everyone looks at you like you are a freak when they say "Here, want to hold the baby?" " thank you. I'll pass." LOL!

I think I babysat too much as a teenager. Haha.

Nope, I totally get the childless by choice and the having only one. Now...let's talk about those people that choose to have more than two kids....WHAT???? Now THAT I totally don't understand... ;)

I enjoyed our coffee date yesterday! See you soon!

xo Catherine

Carolynn Anctil said...

Sharon: When you know, you just know. You know? *grin*

Catherine: Yeah, I always pass on the baby holding thing, too. I joke that I was born without a biological clock.

Eileen said...

You do write extremely well, you draw the reader in, and that's a rare talent.

Now that my children are older, I don't do young children well. I love my deniece and denephew but must admit a couple of hours with them is plenty.

I'd say this little guy's mom probably is happy to have him away for the day, and for the times when he comes over to see you. I suspect he is both lonely and looking for attention because he isn't getting it appropriately at home.

The picture of the school bus brings back a lot of memories!

Nancy Claeys said...

To make the conscious decision whether to have or have not -- is good. So many do not take the time.

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