August 07, 2003
Hypocrisy is better than abandoning your children

Lileks is back, and I think the pause may have caused him to contrive a bleat in his head over a period of days which has a more than usually penetrating sound to it.

I don't get all the American local stuff. I don't know who Adriana Lima is, what is so special about a '57 BelAir Convertible, the exact point of driving to Rio, or where Rio is. But I agree with the following. He's talking about the Gay Bishop they've just chosen over there, amidst great fanfare. Apparently before moving in with Another Man, the Bishop had already got himself a wife and kids.

This story has irritated me from the start, and it has nothing to do with Rev. Robinson’s sexual orientation. The guy left his wife and kids to go do the hokey-pokey with someone else: that’s what it’s all about, at least for me. Marriages founder for a variety of reasons, and ofttimes they’re valid reasons, sad and inescapable. But “I want to have sex with other people” is not a valid reason for depriving two little girls of a daddy who lives with them, gets up at night when they're sick, kisses them in the morning when they wake. There's a word for people who leave their children because they don't want to have sex with Mommy anymore: selfish. I'm not a praying man, but I cannot possibly imagine asking God if that would be okay. Send them another Dad, okay? Until you do I'll keep my cellphone on 24/7, I promise.

Who are you to judge? is the standard response, and I quote Captain James T. Kirk when asked the same question by Kodos the Executioner: who do I have to be? I’ll tell you this: my nightmare is losing my daughter. The idea of leaving her on purpose is inconceivable, and I don’t care if Adriana Lima drove up the driveway in a '57 BelAir convertible, tossed me the keys and asked me to drive her to Rio, it ain’t gonna happen. I made a promise when I married my wife, and I made another when we had our daughter. It's made me rather cranky on the subject of men who don't stick around. They're letting down the side. They're reverting to type. They're talking from their trousers.

I know, I know, his daughters love him & support him now. So what. Hitler’s dog went to his funeral. (No, that doesn’t make sense, but it’s my favorite wrench to throw in conversations this week.) If he’d cast off his family to cavort with a woman from the choir, I’m not sure he’d be elevated to the level of moral avatar – but by some peculiar twist the fact that he left mom for a man insulates him from criticism. It’s as if he had to do it. To stay in the marriage would have been (crack of thunder, horses neighing) living a lie, and nowadays we’re told that’s the worst thing anyone can do. Better to bedevil other lives with the truth than inconvenience your own with a lie. Right? If others are harmed in the short run, eventually they will be happy because you’re happier. Right?

I don’t think it works that way with little children. I don’t think they understand why Dads leave – and so they make up their own reasons and spend years looking for evidence in other people.

As I'm fond of saying in all kinds of contexts, hypocrisy is an under-rated vice. (See my comment, which says that a sportsman who used to be naughty but is now saying: be nice!, is better than a sportsman who was naughty and still says: be naughty!)

It is commonly said that children are impossible to deceive, and that therefore if you are unhappy they will realise it and want you to rearrange things and be happy. They will want you to abandon them. Rubbish, rubbish, rubbish. Children are extremely easy to deceive, and the deception typically lasts, as Lileks explains, even if the attempt to sustain it is abandoned (along with the children), and long after it has been abandoned. Children absolutely do not want to be abandoned.

Maybe the fact that I agree so strongly that one should not abandon children for man/trouser reasons is why I don't yet have any children and I suppose may never. What if your child isn't a Gnat child, but instead some terrible sticky, whiny, unlovable, unloving, resentful, IQ damaged, medically mucked-up and hence financially ruinous, un-Gnatal mess? I'm too frightened of the permanence of the change, of the limitlessness of the responsibility, the way I suppose some men who do get children only realise when it actually happens. Or don't even then.

A friend of mine recently told me that he was coming out (again) as straight, as both, that is to say. Fair enough, in fact fine. He's young, with no children. He's getting all that stuff sorted first. Quite right.

Make bed. Maybe the bed is right immediately. If not, remake bed until it is right. Then have children. If that means three gay guys adopting or contracting out the pregnancy, fine, whatever. But then: lie in bed. Do not have children and then remake bed.

Posted by Brian Micklethwait at 09:06 AM
Category: Parents and children