I had to get the employee at the supermarket to repeat himself three times because the first couple times he spoke to me I couldn't concentrate on what he was saying in Korean. I was too busy being fascinated by the ga-ga goo-goo voice he was using. It was like he had suddenly come across a baby and decided to sing a little lullaby. And he wasn't really looking at me either, even though he was standing right in before me - so I kind of wondered if he was sing-songing to the potatoes and hunks of ginger in front of us.
"Meanhamneeda." (Sorry) "Mwuh?" (What?)
And so he sang to me again, repeating what I thought he had said. He told me my son had been in the store trying to buy cigarettes and alcohol.
"Why that little juvenile delinquent!" I thought. "When I get home I'm going to take away his GameBoy and he is SO grounded and I'm going to,...."
Uh, wait a minute. I don't have a son!"
I knew right away who the Lullaby Guy was singing to me about, though. There is one white kid in my town. I think he's a 1st year student in middle school now and his name is Sasha. I've seen him riding his bike around my school. He towers over his classmates because he's about sixteen years old compared to them, who are twelve. Some of my students who went to school with him in the sixth grade have told me he's a badass, so I'm not so surprised that he's smoking and drinking.
I explain to Lullaby Man that I don't have a son. "I'm Canadian," I say, "And that kid and his mother are Russian."
"Ohhhhhh ha ha ha - chesohamneeda!" (So sorry!) sings the supermarket guy.
I always thought that I wanted kids. I was surprised when I realized not very long ago that I, in fact, do not. I mean I really don't want kids, and I was surprised at how surprised I was to figure this out about myself because it goes to show I don't really know who the hell I am. Certain characteristics that I possess fooled me into thinking that I should be a great mom. Not would or could be - but should be, and I think that's just something that I learned when I was growing up and never really questioned. "When girls get older they get married and have babies. They cook meatloaf and stand waiting at the door with a fresh martini for when the daddy comes home. But before daddy can come in the house our pet dinosaur crashes through the door and knocks daddy down, licking his face."
Oh, wait. That's the Flintstones.
Anyhow, I had this idea in my mind of how things were supposed to be and I think my subconscious started gnawing at me a bit a few years back when life wasn't working out according to my own inner sex-role stereotype. I'm sure it's far worse for Korean women over 30 here. The pressure to get married, settle down, and start a family is immense, and that even boils over and lands on me from time to time. People get really anxious when they find out I'm single. "How old are you? And you're not married? Way-oh?!?" (Why?!?)
("I don't know, man,...because I suck?")
But on the motherhood thing,...I think I actually would suck. They say it's different when it's your own child. Maybe the feelings that make me want to put some children into a box, seal the box with packing tape, and send them off to a factory in Cambodia wouldn't be prevalent. No, no, no. It wouldn't be like that. My child would cry and whine and throw tantrums on the floor and go to the supermarket and buy smokes and booze and I would love it regardless. Right? Yes, yes, yes. I wouldn't even have to deal with those scenarios because my child would be quite perfect. A little angel. Quiet and thoughtful and polite. "Mummy?" it will tug on my hem, "May I perhaps possibly trouble you for some milk? Please mummy! I want some more!" Apparently my child is British. And Oliver Twist.
I'm fun and creative and kind, and I am able to deal with most children and not bring them to the post office to be shipped out. But, I'm also fairly sure that if I were to be responsible for one child for, like, ever - I would certainly ruin it. I'm a total pushover.
"Mom, can I have coke and ice cream on my cocoa puffs for breakfast?"
"No! You cannot!"
"Because that's not a healthy way to start your morning!"
"Moooooommmmm - Pleeeeaaassseee? Pretty please?"
"Oh, alright then."
"Mom, can I play in traffic?"
"No! That's dangerous!"
"Pleaaaaaasssseee? All my friends are doing it!"
"Well, alright then. But wear these," and I'd toss the child some goggles and mittens.
And that Russian kid? My delinquent son? I can empathize with how it must be like for him here, being the only foreign kid as far as the eye can see. I'd probably be buying his vodka for him. "Vashé zdorov'ye, son. Can mommy bum a smoke? Let's go get a tattoo!"
No, I'm far better aunt material. There needs to be an adult supervising who can intervene when I'm explaining how to pierce your navel at home or stop me before the boxes are sealed and addressed.
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