The Advantages of Over-the-Hill Parents
While we're sick of children in ads for everything from diapers to cars, ruining the cuteness curve for the rest of us, the way they get here is something we're never sick of. And some of their alternative routes have made big news. Especially remarkable is the daughter born to the 63-year-old woman, who qualified for a university reproduction program because she had a fake ID saying she was 53. Lots of girls go out and get fake IDs and then get pregnant, but they're usually 15 and a lot of drinking goes on in between the two events. And while we all love to offer disapproving comment about people having babies too young, we are now eager to judge one for being too old. Oh, the burden of having to judge absolutely everyone! And it's not just age we're contrary about. The old lady has been treated like Dr. Frankenstein, committing sick and aberrant crimes against nature, while Tony Randall winds up on magazine covers for fathering a child at 77. No one is disgusted or wonders whether, in his frail dotage, he can handle the burden of parenthood. Knocking someone up is the ultimate expression of manhood, so we see him in pictures smiling gaily with his lovely newborn and we smile back.Crib notesThat's such a show of sexism it might as well have Vanna White doing her lovely hand job in front of it. It's assumed Randall can handle fatherhood because, as we've defined it, who couldn't? You play with the baby and the minute it's sick or sad you hand it back to the real workhorse. Some dads do total childcare, but are we supposed to knight them for doing what women have done forever? It's indefensible that a Baptist church in Arkansas can close its day care center because women belong in the home. And there are plenty of educated urbanites out there who believe this silly hillbilly thinking is right. Anyway, Tony Randall is going to be allowed anything because he's a star. George Burns could father a baby from the grave and we'd all assume there would be available money for braces and caretakers. But while busy berating the old lady, we've forgotten the most interesting point: isn't Tony Randall supposed to be gay? Old and gay are fine things for a parent to be, but is it morally tenable for a child to be raised by anyone who was that believable as Felix Unger? Actually, there are advantages to being and having a parent who is older than most trees: * A Depends can be turned into a Huggies with the aid of a powerful rubberband. Also, there's no stigma on child's part about bedwetting if the parent is still doing it. * Calling mom "mummy" is funnier. * Child never has to endure windy, self-righteous speeches that start out, "Back in the '60s kids really cared." Mother doesn't remember Woodstock. Or address. May, however, enthrall child with stories of throwing rocks at Christians back in the Coliseum. "Oh, we had fun then. Try that now and they'll lock you up. I used to be so pretty. Want a cookie?" * No lecture on drugs. Parents that old have enough pills in the cabinet to make a set of bean bag chairs and cannot afford to be pedantic. And then there's time, the thing kids need most. Younger parents, with busy schedules, often miss spending time with their kids, while the infirm and socially shunned olden ones have all the time in the world. Also, they sleep a lot, which gives kids control of the remote, something just as precious as time with parents.Family valuesAnd now, if you don't want to procreate in the usual way, there's cloning, which became slightly more real when scientists Xeroxed a sheep named Dolly, producing a Dolly Lamba. The stern editorials that followed echoed Jeff Goldblum's golden "Jurassic Park" speech about science being so worked up about whether they can do something that they never bother to think whether they should. But so far, all cloning has done is give a bunch of columnists identical subjects to write about. Truthfully, if I went to a town and found it was populated not by the usual spicy variety of losers, creeps and dirtballs but with a monotone, repetitive spread of David Duchovnys, I'd be less likely to run in Body-Snatchers terror than to rent an apartment there. Since cloning is all about exteriors, that's about as seriously as you can take it. A society that doesn't care for the same trendy haircut two years in a row is unlikely to cotton to cloning. In fact, the only real terror seems to be that parents would want their kids to look (ominous chord) JUST LIKE THEM. Which is what they want now. Injecting an embryo with Mother Theresa's DNA would ensure a baby that would look like her, but not necessarily act like her, and who needs an unpredictable little old wrinkly baby anyway? Except maybe a 63-year old with a fake ID.