Friday, February 16, 2007

From a childless man looking towards parenthood

I've become a fan of Michael Lewis' column at Slate on fatherhood. I am not a father yet, but that day is probably in my realtively near future and I've taken an interest in reading other people's parenting experiences. I had good parental role models and I approach this unjustifiably confident in my abilities, but I know that I will need to lean heavily on the lovely Mrs. Jib on some things because I was an only child. I did not experience the sibling relationship, and I have next to no clue on the special skills needed for raising daughters. So while reading Lewis' most recent column tonight, I was stopped dead in my tracks by this:

And off they went again, at the tops of their lungs—which they will do, I now know, until Quinn clobbers Dixie with a hair brush or Dixie rakes her fingernails across Quinn's chest or some near-mortal wound is inflicted. Earlier this very day, seeking solace, I described their strange case over lunch to a good friend who happens to be a social psychologist. "Do you know the data on siblings across species?" he asked, before I was even half done. I didn't. "Oh yeah," he said. "Half the time they kill each other." He ran through a few species: Sand-shark siblings eat each other in their mother's oviducts; hyena siblings eat each other the minute they get out. The blue-footed booby is especially ruthless: "If their siblings drop below 80 percent of normal body weight," he explained, "they peck 'em to death." That would be Dixie, whose teeth marks can now be found on her sister's legs.

People would occasionally tell me when I was young that I was smart/wise beyond my years. I guess that would explain why I never yearned for a sibling. I didn't want to have to kill them. But now I wonder how I'm going to be abel to prevent it in my kids. (Can I get a nomination for bad pun of the year, please?)

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