One of the things that I love (and hate) about this city is its focus on family life. For a young, childless couple like Manly and I, there are plenty of things to do — if we’re willing to accept the presence of other people’s children there with us. There are walking tours of historical downtown, the planetarium, little community theatres, free concerts in the park, the art museum, the botanical garden, more parks than I know about, broadway shows, the symphony, the ballet, wine tastings, and just random cultural and commercial events. Few of those are adult-only, so plenty of families take advantage of the opportunity to expose their children to the opportunities available to them.
And then there are the kids-only activites. The children’s history museum, the children’s fountain at the Bicenntenial Park, children’s art classes at the art museum, summer camps in the parks and historical sites, the children’s exhibit at the botanical garden. Now don’t get me wrong: I’m not complaining that there are things that are children-only. I think those things are great ideas, and I hope to take full advantage of them one day. And even now, it makes me smile to see a bunch of little kids running around having a good time in an event/place designed for them.
But at the same time, I can’t watch those children run around without feeling a twinge of sadness and jealousy. I know that there is a very good chance that I’ll never get to experience the sight of my child dashing through the children’s fountain or chasing butterflies in the garden or standing in awe of a cow at a milking demonstration. Even if we do have kids someday, I will still have a veil of regret shadowing everything we do. If we have one child, it might very well be the only one. Unlike most parents, I won’t be able to skip a day at the park or a soccer game or a school field trip without the fear that I’ll never have that opportunity again.
*Sigh* IF takes away so many things, even before we have them in the first place.