Today, on Christmas Eve, I dressed for work in a green long-sleeved work shirt, (tiny) plaid flannel pajama shorts, white tights, red-and-white-striped socks, candy-cane-striped shoes, jingle bell earrings, and a headband with antlers sticking out of it. As in past years (this is pretty much my standard Christmas Eve work outfit), I got a lot of comments and a lot of compliments. I do have nice legs, after all.
I only spent one hour on a register, but during that hour, a petite, androgynous woman in her 30s came through my line, and asked the seemingly innocent question: “Are you one of Santa’s helpers?”
“Of course!” I said, a seemingly innocent answer. “Aren’t we all?”
“I’m not,” she said quickly. “If it were up to me, I’d get rid of children.”
I was shocked. “Your own?” I asked, thinking maybe she was under holiday stress, and only making a joke, “or in general?”
“No, I don’t have any. In general. I’d do away with them altogether. I just don’t like them.”
I honestly didn’t know how to react. Her comments didn’t hit me in the “but I want children” sense; I just couldn’t believe she was saying these things to a perfect stranger. I mean, who in their right mind is not going to be made uncomfortable by someone declaring she wants to eliminate the existence of children?
“They’re okay when they’re babies,” she went on, and it seemed like maybe she was trying to back-pedal a little. “But then when they get older and start to talk and demand things, I could do without that.”
“Oh.” I was still uncomfortable, but tried to meet her halfway. “I do better with kids I know than strange kids. You know, because I can open up more around them and have an easier time interacting with them.” Not because I don’t like them.
What I really wanted to say was, “Weren’t you a child once yourself?!”
On the other side of the store, Doug was giving out strings of stickers and high-fives to every kid he encountered. He’s great with kids. I’m not, but I get by. And at least I like them, even though I’m usually more shy around them than they are around me.
She left, and I was left feeling dirty. Christmas is for children, kept full of wonder by children, and exists because a child was born. How can you not love that?