I have been enjoying getting to know my nieces and nephews this last year. They are, when taken objectively and as a whole, the most brilliant and appealing littles ever born on the face of the planet earth.
Yesterday, my nephew Maximum M visited with his ‘rents and his grand-‘rent. He’s six. He performed a maintenance check on the fairy lights that he hung for us the last time he was here. During the check, I let him know that his cousin Laughing L had visited recently too, and L’s eyes got as big as saucers when I told him that Uncle Snuggles had put Maximum M on a ladder all around the backyard to hang the fairy lights. Kindergarteners need swagger, too.
At one point in the afternoon, Maximum M came barreling through the slider deck to announce to me and his mum that he had found a bird feather. He was sure that he knew what kind of bird it had come from (he’s been at nature camp this summer). I told him that I’d picked up a bird feather for our cats Candy and Scout when I’d been on Belle Isle last week. It was white and gray. What kind of bird was it from? Maximum M was pretty sure it was from a falcon. His mum suggested a pigeon and he laughed and said, “No.” It was from a falcon.
I decided to take that moment to instill this valuable life lesson: Bringing joy to others doubles the joy you experience yourself.
I am positive that I can teach this profound truism to Maximum M in terms he can understand, and he can incorporate it into a long and healthy life.
“Y’know what, M?” I begin with my We-Are-Now-on-the-Down-Low-Aunt-Snakelady tone, “I brought that falcon feather home from Belle Isle for Candy and Scout. They loved it. That was their special treat from the city. Y’know what would happen if you took your feather to the cats? They would be SO HAPPY. Their eyes would get bright and they’d play and play and play. And you would have shared your feather happiness with cats who can appreciate it, and you’d get to watch them being happy, and you’d get to be happy with them, and afterwards you’d probably be happier than if you were on your own!”
I had completely sold myself with this airtight syllogism. I was proud of myself for having imparted this wisdom to Maximum M. “Golly, I wish someone had taught me this lesson when I was six!!” I thought to myself.
Maximum M paused. Then he walked over to his mum.
“I want to keep my feather,” he said. He said it low. He was serious. He’d thought it through. All of Aunt Snakelady’s bullshit and pretty words boiled down to one thing: if he shared his feather, it wouldn’t just be his any longer.
I can’t directly relate to a desire to have children. It’s not a desire I share. But I COMPLETELY UNDERSTAND why people have more than one. When surrounded day in and day out by this kind of rock-solid self-advocacy, a self-advocacy that most of us can only fantasize of maintaining in adulthood, I’d never get enough of it either.
Screw you, Aunt Snakelady! Take your sketchy “plan” to double-down on happiness to some other sucker.
I WANT TO KEEP MY FEATHER.