Thursday, September 30, 2004

lessons from school

Part of my duties at The School entail running the library for the 3rd through 6th graders. Today I had a fifth grade class and read to them from "Blubber" before letting them look for books on their own to check out.

While everyone else was looking at books, two girls came up to me and asked me if I had a boyfriend. I told them, no, I don't have a boyfriend, but I do have a husband. I'm married.

They looked at each other and one of them asked if I wanted to have a baby.

Desperately, I thought to myself, but only said, "Someday" out loud.

"Do you want a boy or girl?"

"I don't know. I said. It doesn't really matter. How about you? If you were going to have a baby, would you want a boy or a girl."

"A healthy baby," one of them answered. And the second one chimed in, "One with 5 fingers on each hand, not six"

And the first one went on,"and with only one head, not three. And two eyes."

"And one stomach."

"And two ears."

They went on and on listing all of the possible body parts that a potential baby could be born with.

The conversation struck me. I thought that the girls might be trying to figure out if I was pregnant. My stomach can definitely give off that impression if you don't know better. But I also remembered that in the chapter I had read to them referred to the Guiness Book of World records and a 58 year old woman who had given birth, so maybe they were just trying to figure out my age. Then again, maybe they were just curious about me, wanted to know if I had a boyfriend and then when I told them I was married, jumped to the next logical question. . .But they didn't ask me if I had any kids, just if I wanted to have a baby. Hmmm. . .I don't think I'll ever know.

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Later in the day, I was subbing for the other librarian, the one who reads to the younger kids. Not knowing what to read to the kindergarten class that was filing through the door, I quickly grabbed for the longest Dr. Seuss book I could find: Horton Hatches an Egg.

I don't know if you've had the chance to read Horton lately, but the message is a nice one. Basically Horton is an elephant who sits on an egg for a lazy bird who runs off to Florida to avoid her parental respsonsibilities and comes back just as the egg is hatching. To everyone's surprise, what comes out of the egg is a little elephant bird that looks njust like Horton! The lazy bird wants her baby back, but it is clear that the baby really belongs to Horton. After all, he did all the work, sitting on the egg for 51 weeks. And he gets to keep the baby and go home with it.

The analogy doesn't work if you're talking about gestanional surrogates, but when I was reading the story to the kids, I was thinking more along the lines of donor sperm. As in, the lazy bird was the donor and Horton was the parent who got the sperm, who grew the baby and in the end who was going to take care of it. In real life, the likelihood that the baby would look like Horton is an impossibility of course, but then the idea of an elephant sitting on a bird's egg for 51 weeks is a bit far-fetched too. I was thinking more along the lines of the other traits we pass on to our children, the things that aren't genetically based.

As an adopted child, I often marvel at how similar I am to my adoptive mother. How we even have the same smile.

She was a teacher and when I was little, I would often go to school with her when I had days off and she didn't and inevitably one of her students would tell me, "you look just like your mother." It isn't really true. She's white for one thing. And I'm biracial. But we do share mannerisms and a way of speaking that could easily translate into looking alike.

Anyway, I was glad to have found Horton this afternoon. It definitely reminded me that, if we do have to go with donor sperm, if we do have to adopt, we will still be the parents. We will still be parents period. Just like Horton was.


Blogger spiller said...

I'm glad you had Horton.

And he/she will be one extraordinary child, no matter where his/her genes come from.

7:30 PM  
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