Children’s Consent

My boyfriend and I had an interesting argument. Not the good meaning of “interesting”.

The topic of pierced ears and children came up. I’m well aware ear piercing is essentially harmless and it’s very common, but I’ve personally never liked the idea of piercing an infant’s ears because it’s purely cosmetic and the only reason for is tradition.

Unfortunately, my boyfriend likes tradition. His reasons for it amount to tradition, superstition (it’s supposed to bring good luck), and a baby won’t remember it anyway.

First and foremost, I believe if “they won’t remember it” is an argument for anything, it’s probably not a good thing.

More importantly than that, my biggest reason, aside from it being a needless cosmetic procedure, is that I’d prefer waiting until my (non-existent) child is old enough to understand what ear piercing is and consent to do it because it’s her (or his) ears that will have a needle or gun shot through them. But my boyfriend threw all of that down in the name of “tradition”, saying he didn’t understand why waiting until a child is old enough to consent would be necessary.

That’s where I officially had a problem.

“Just because it’s what’s done doesn’t mean it’s what should be done!” – Cinderella, 2015

My boyfriend deemed my value of a child’s ability to consent and understand what will happen to their body to be irrational. I deemed his reasons of tradition and superstition to be sentimental, and a child’s supposed lack of memory (fun fact: studies have proven children as young as three months old can form memories) to be an archaic idea.

Should I ever change my mind about parenthood, it will spell the end of our relationship, even if he also changes his mind, because someone who values tradition and sentiments above a child’s well-being, even for a matter that’s supposedly harmless, is not someone I want to raise children with. The perhaps ironic thing here is he says it’s not a big deal. If that’s the case, why the rush to pierce a child’s ears before they have the ability to consent to the procedure? If it’s not a big deal, why is “they won’t remember it” a reason for it? If it’s really not a big deal, remembering the pain shouldn’t be an issue.

He stated the pain will go away, which is true. But he stated this in the same vein as “they won’t remember”. Never mind the pain will also go away for an older child, a teenager, or an adult.

And yes, I had ears pierced as an infant, at seven months old. Considering I very rarely wear earrings, I really wish I hadn’t. On a different note, can someone please explain the borderline obsession with cosmetic procedures, especially about an infant?

Let’s be honest: it’s to make the adults feel good. It is not for the baby because the baby cannot grasp what’s going on, why, or give consent. It’s for the adults to fawn over and feel special. In the end, he said he would get a (female; of course, not male) child’s ears pierced as an infant because every woman in his family has done it. With that type of thinking, I’m surprised he isn’t a parent. After all, if he does something because everyone else does, why hasn’t he had a child thus far? That’s definitely something everyone (or almost everyone) in his family has done.

My frustration is I find this argument to be a sign of a bigger problem: my boyfriend doesn’t think. I don’t hate tradition itself, but this isn’t a tradition like putting up a Christmas tree for December 25th. This is a tradition that affects someone else (yes, babies and children are people). And no matter what reasons I presented, even pointing out factually that babies do have memories (whereas he had none they didn’t), they were drowned out in the name of tradition. That scares me. If he deems tradition and superstition to be of greater important than logic, consent, and autonomy, and believes someone’s potential lack of memory justifies bypassing their willingness, what else does he believe? What does he believe about me?

I said if we did have a child and he pierced our child’s ears without my knowledge or mutual agreement, I’d divorce him. His response to this was: “Jeez… So much for death do us part.”

I agreed two years ago to marry him. I may need to rethink if I can spend the rest of my life with someone whose primary concerns are tradition and sentiments.

Why I’m Done With r/childfree

I was a part of the Reddit’s childfree subreddit for four years. The subreddit has a (well-deserved) bad reputation. Of course, every group has its share of awful people. The problem is the awful ones are the loudest. It reached the point the subreddit was the focus of an article on Daily Dot.

For the most part, I tried to ignore the more toxic posts because overall, I did enjoy the subreddit, but I finally found the one that made me say “I quit”. For the sake of not bringing it more traffic, I will not share the link, but I did screenshot it.

You could say this is just one person, and that’s true. But much of the subreddit was hugely in agreement, and anyone who objected was downvoted to the point their comment was hidden or deleted. The subreddit hates “breeder pleasers” – childfree people who do not hate children, or like them – almost as much as they hate the existence of parents and children. The idea is a childfree person who likes kids or doesn’t hate them is justifying their lack of desire to be a parent. Or, you know, simply likes kids and is okay with saying that.

Aside from the obvious, the biggest problem with the sub is many of them proclaim they hate to be judged, but do the exact same thing about parents and children, and will defend it with the excuse of needing to vent. Putting aside the utter absurdity of being irritated at someone’s mere existence (especially when they are not bothering you), this person is proud they sound like a borderline sociopath (“I’m selfish. I’m unsympathetic. I am that monster”), and the majority of the subreddit agrees this is okay.

Hilariously (not the good funny), this person insisted they shouldn’t be judged based on this one post, and hating parents and children isn’t the center of their being. A child’s mere existence is bothersome to you, but hatred doesn’t rule your life. Right…

It’s not so much the post as the nearly united agreement in the comments that was the straw that broke the camel’s back for me. Even if I continue to consider myself childfree (yes, I’m debating that), I have no desire to be part of any community that’s ultimately a hive mind. No, I don’t think it’s okay to be angry at the world because someone under age eighteen dares to exist in your space. No, I don’t think it’s okay to be a narcissist, let alone proud of it. And no, I absolutely don’t think hating parents and kids is prerequisite for considering yourself childfree. If my account wasn’t four years old, I’d delete it and make a new one just to have any and all posts from r/childfree out of my history. I genuinely want nothing to do with the subreddit anymore.

I have no children, nor do I intend to have any, but this person, and every person in the comments who thinks it’s a “brave” post for its honesty, is someone I hope I never cross paths with.

One of the several agreeing comments: I just can’t fathom enjoying being around the disgusting things.”

The reason this ticked me off a bit is children are not things. Perhaps if they stepped outside their circlejerk, the idea children could be pleasant company to some people wouldn’t be so unfathomable.

Another: “The Victorians had the right idea. Children should be seen but not heard and speak only when spoken to.”

I’ve ranted about that phrase twice before, so it should be obvious why this particular one bugs me. No, children are people who deserve respect and kindness as much as any adult, and if this is what the adults have to say, I’d much rather hear the kids talk if I have to listen to anyone. At least, they’re cute.

While there are extremists who believe not having kids is a sin or evil or any number of negative adjectives, r/childfree’s reputation isn’t because it’s a spot for people who don’t have kids. It earned that reputation by turning from a support community for those who dealt with real pressure (from family, friends, or conservative communities they lived in) into an echo chamber for confirmations their irritation that a child is alive on the planet is okay and normal. And apparently, they’re proud of it, so even they can’t argue any longer the sub’s reputation is undeserved. They want it like that.

Reddit as a whole isn’t known for being a friendly place, but that’s par for the course for social media in general. The childfree subreddit, however, is undoubtedly one of the worse areas. At the time I’m writing this, it has 663,625 followers, so one person leaving has zero impact, but I don’t want to have an impact.

Reading some replies to deleted comments I missed, it seems some of them felt the need to insist none of them want to hurt children and none of them would. I really want to believe that, but some years ago, there was a case of a father who murdered his young child and police discovered that subreddit in his browsing history. Someone who’s bitter and vindictive toward parents for no other reason than them being parents, and hates children “with literally every molecule in [my] body” (but supposedly, this hatred isn’t the center of their life), sounds very much like someone who, at the very least, would relish in hearing about child’s death, if not out to be the one who causes a child harm.

There is a subreddit called “true childfree“, which is not as active, but not toxic either (and unsurprisingly, it’s not liked by r/childfree). In the Daily Dot article, one of the mods stated you can filter out the hateful posts (which is true), but that doesn’t really change that the subreddit is a toxic pool. It merely hides the poison.

The upside is, assuming most of the subreddit’s followers are American, that’s about 0.2% of the population. Chances are I never will cross paths with these folks. Good.

Not Prime Time

Alternatively: Amazon Is Guilty Of Many Things, But Your Bad Shopping Habits Aren’t One Of Them.

However, I felt that was too long for the title box.

I recently purchased Amazon Prime, though for half of the discounted monthly price instead of the regular price. For whatever reason, they gave me an offer to extend the trial, so I’m currently getting two free months of Amazon Prime. The only benefits I really care for are the fast shipping and the discounts. Yes, I know you get free shipping if you spend over twenty-five dollars, but I said fast, not free. Not that I’d subscribe to Prime if I had to still pay for shipping.

Anyway, I searched for some reviews on Prime. The general opinion is it’s worth it if you shop on Amazon a lot, you live in a rural area, or you have a child. Of course, some people think Prime is trash, and that’s a valid opinion too. Online shopping is a luxury, after all.

But among the bad reviews, something I couldn’t help noticing is a lot of people claimed they saved more money after cancelling their Prime subscription because they didn’t shop as much for items they don’t need.

Amazon is no saint – big duh – but if you were needlessly buying items you didn’t need solely to make use of Prime, that’s not their fault.

Amazon does the same of any company that offers paid subscriptions. Yes, they make it easy to shop (ex: one-click button), but the same can be said about any store. I used to be a cashier, and I lost count of how many times a customer with an overloaded cart told me they came in for only one item. There’s no difference between doing that with Amazon and any other store, physical or virtual. We put extra stuff in the waiting aisle because we want you to buy more.

Yes, it makes it easier, but ultimately, it comes down to self-control and that’s never on the store. I’m not sitting on a high horse. I’m guilty of buying more than I came in for. I didn’t become a big shopper until I started working in retail, and I really just wanted to use my employee discount. But that’s still my fault, not my job’s. They’re not responsible for my shopping habits.

Now, yes, it makes sense to avoid something that makes you feel an unnecessary urgent need. I’d say cancelling Prime or avoiding a certain store is exercising self-control… if you can admit you were the cause. If someone blames their habits on Amazon, or any other store, they’ll merely take those habits elsewhere after cancelling Prime.

As for myself, I’ve had Prime for seven days and haven’t made a purchase since, despite wanting to. I haven’t seen anything I care to buy. I was interested in Amazon Fresh, but that’s an additional $14.99 per month, and shipping still costs a fee, so screw that. I doubt I’ll keep Prime for a year, but it’s going to prove useful for Halloween. Yes, I still wear costumes. No better candy than free candy!

Edit: Amazon Fresh is now free for Prime members, so I will be keeping that membership, and switching to a yearly subscription when I can afford to do so.

Money Can’t Replace Time

“You’re getting paid for this.”

So, what?

One thing I have never had tolerance for: the idea getting paid means you should be content devoting every minute of your time to work, whether or not it’s necessary.

Apparently, no one remembers it’s (almost) always possible to get more money, but time can never be replaced.

Baby, you’re all that I want
When you’re lying here in my arms
I’m finding it hard to believe
We’re in heaven

This doesn’t mean I don’t ever work overtime or I’ll never clock back in for a while if something pops up. But there are some days I am ready to go home! I don’t live to work. Yes, while at a job, I want to work, but after my shift ends, my work is done. I’ll have other shifts to make more money, and it’ll be the same money. But I’ll never have the same day or night.

Sure, I usually spend my time out of work catching up on sleep or surfing the internet. But I also make plans. I write silly fan fiction. I talk to my friends. I meet with my boyfriend.

And love is all that I need
And I found it there in your heart
It isn’t too hard to see
We’re in heaven

I’ve talked many times about how that last activity has changed my life. Yes, that’s including the awful times. Until we live together, it will never feel like enough, and when we do, it possibly still won’t. Money makes time spent together more fun, but it does not replace it outright.

In fact, though I enjoy traveling with him, my favorite times with him are when we’re in bed with each other. I love to wake up next him (snoring and all 😛 ). There’s not enough money to replace the few times I can do that.

Oh, once in your life, you find someone
Who will turn your world around
Bring you up when you’re feeling down

There’s not enough money to replace the fewer chances I’ve had to spend with my friends, who I hope to have for a long time, if not for life. I’ve met some through my retail job, which is why I don’t entirely hate it, but that still isn’t enough for me to want to spend most of my time at work if it’s unnecessary.

I’ve read no one on their deathbed wishes they worked more. I doubt that’s true. There are probably some people out there who died wish they had a bigger career, or something similar. I doubt I’ll be one of them. I think the person who wishes they spent more time with their loved ones, even if I spent every waking moment with them. Or made more memories. Or had more pictures. Say what you will about my generation (Gen Y/Millennials) and the current one (Gen Z/the iGeneration), but I take a lot of pictures and I don’t regret it. No, I’m not snapping my camera every minute of the day, but I love having the reminders. Physical photos are still awesome though, and I plan to print some pictures out and put them in a photo album I bought at my retail job.

Yeah, nothing could change what you mean to me
Oh, there’s lots that I could say
But just hold me now
‘Cause our love will light the way

I know so many people will call me “foolish” or insist “I know nothing about life” because of ideals I have like this. I know very well life isn’t a fairytale, though some people do get to live that life (like my co-worker who found the love of her life at 14 and became a parent at 17; at age 20, they’re still together and she’s clearly happy). The good news is all fairytales are different. If there’s one thing I’ve learned from Disney (though I’ve learned many), it’s that when things reach the very worst, they can still get better. Life isn’t Disney, so sometimes, it will get worse… but not always.

I simply like to hope they get better. If only because I want another day with the ones I love most.

It’s cliche to say, but love – platonic and romantic – is powerful. You can’t pay your bills or your taxes with it, but it makes the time we spend on this Earth not so bad.

And that’s as fair a trade-off as anyone can get.

You’re all that I want
You’re all that I need

(And let’s just say every so often, I’m reminded why time is precious. We’re not here forever.)