The urge to procreate: We are still fighting it

Good morning, son.
I am a bird
Wearing a brown polyester shirt
You want a coke?
Maybe some fries?
The roast beef combo’s only $9.95
It’s okay, you don’t have to pay
I’ve got all the change

Everybody knows
It hurts to grow up
And everybody does
It’s so weird to be back here
Let me tell you what
The years go on and
We’re still fighting it, we’re still fighting it
And you’re so much like me
I’m sorry

Good morning, son
In twenty years from now
Maybe we’ll both sit down and have a few beers
And I can tell you ’bout today
And how I picked you up and everything changed
It was pain
Sunny days and rain
I knew you’d feel the same things

Everybody knows
It sucks to grow up
And everybody does
It’s so weird to be back here.
Let me tell you what
The years go on and
We’re still fighting it, we’re still fighting it
You’ll try and try and one day you’ll fly
Away from me

Good morning, son
I am a bird

It was pain
Sunny days and rain
I knew you’d feel the same things

Everybody knows
It hurts to grow up
And everybody does
It’s so weird to be back here.
Let me tell you what
The years go on and
We’re still fighting it, we’re still fighting it
Oh, we’re still fighting it, we’re still fighting it

And you’re so much like me
I’m sorry

Ben Folds, “Still Fighting It”

That song really gets to me. And unlike the incomparable musician Ben Folds, my wife and I don’t even have human children. We have cats and birds who substitute for children. Our parents are not amused.

The nice thing about having kids with fur and feathers as opposed to a real child is that there’s less at stake. With a real child, the highs are much, much higher…but you constantly worry about how the kid will grow up and what lessons you are teaching every day. Even though you don’t want your kids to grow up too fast, having kids will force you to mature at warp speed. (And, as Mr. Folds pointed out, “Everybody knows it sucks to grow up.”)

But with animals, you can live in the moment. They love you unconditionally (OK, I guess food is a condition). They don’t keep secrets. And as long as you keep the cage door closed, they don’t fly away from you. They don’t succeed or fail in life. They just are.

The other thing about raising animals as opposed to human children is that you never have to feel guilty about passing your flaws onto them because they are not your genetic offspring.

It’s impossible to overstate how important that is.

I have a lot of faults. First of all, I’ve learned recently that I can’t play golf worth @$%. I lose track of everything. I still prefer a pizza to a salad. I rebel against traditional rules and boundaries even when it’s not worth the risk.

More seriously, when I key in on something, I have a hard time letting go of it (if you’ve read any of my previous blogs, you’ve probably picked up on that). I often let my emotions get the better of me. I get very attached to people I’ve just met but have trouble being honest with the people who have known me for years. And despite my intense desire to do the right thing, my impulsive behavior even baffles me sometimes.

Fortunately, our pets will never inherit my shortcomings or my strengths. It’s true that I will never get to sit down with them for a few beers, but I also won’t have to watch them grow up warped just because I failed as a parent. And, unlike Ben Folds, I will never have to tell any of my animals, “You’re so much like me…I’m sorry.”

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