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Monday, February 25, 2008 :::

The Brave One

At the coffee shop near my house there is a "community journal" that asks a generic question on a daily basis and invites the coffee shop patrons to answer in participation. The other day the question was "Who do you think will win the Oscar for Best Picture?" to which the lone written answer was Hairspray, a film which wasn't even in the running, which I guess says a lot about my neighborhood. So while I waited for my tea to brew, I decided to flip through the journal to read the previous questions and answers to see if they were equally inspiring. That's when I came across the question "What is the bravest thing you've ever done?" The answers from those participating went something like this:

- Had a kid
- Had a baby
- Went to college
- Bought a car
- Had a baby
- Had a baby
- Had a kid
- Had a baby
- Wore a sleeveless dress
- Had a baby

I instantly felt bad for the obviously fat-armed participant who mustered up the guts to wear a sleeveless dress, because if that was indeed the bravest thing she's ever done then she either has the most boring life ever or mutant shoulders. I suppose it could have been written by a man, and that's where the bravery part comes in. I dunno.

But I was a little confused about why having a kid was suddenly and ubiquitously considered a "brave" thing to do. I can concede that raising a kid can be a lot of work and is in some cases a sincerely selfless act, but I hardly think that succumbing to the innate biological imperative to reproduce - an imperative that 95% of the rest of the population also succumbs to - can be considered "brave". If that's the case, then we may as well hand out medals to everyone who is brave enough to breathe oxygen and walk on two feet.

But then I started to feel judgmental about those self-important babymakers, mostly because I couldn't instantly think of anything I've done that could seriously be considered braver than locking yourself into that lifetime commitment of having a kid. The results after I sat down to write my own bravery list were less than impressive:

- Figured out how to ride the Eurail train in Germany
- Walked home drunk through the Minneapolis ghetto at 3am
- Quit my stable corporate job to work at a risky startup
- Approached Lindsay Lohan in an Eyeglass Store
- Ate foie gras
- Um... ran a 5k?

Lame indeed. But what really counts as being "brave" these days anyway? Combat in Iraq? Skydiving? Cold Water Rescue? The Iditarod? If that's what it takes to be considered brave then you can count me out. And in that case, I guess it's a good thing to actively lower the standards for what can and cannot be labeled as a brave act. So let's give it up for those brave babymakers:

Hip, hip, hooray!

::: posted by dan at 6:38 PM :: [ link ] :: (19) comments Social Bookmark Button

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19 previous comments:

Almost any moron can have a baby, people prove that every day!
Look at the Federline/Spears duo.

By Anonymous Lindsay, at 12:07 PM  

I once asked some vicious looking teenagers to be quiet during a movie that was playing in a theater in a questionable part of town. That was brave. Iím pretty sure my boldness was compliments of PMS. Normally Iím really passive aggressive with my comments, directing them loudly in the general direction of cankles after she cut the line at the 5*8.


By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:26 PM  

Great now I have to be mad at you for a few days...

Deciding to raise a baby and deal with the overwhelming responsiblity of doing a good enough job by the baby, feeling the pressure of providing it a good enough upbringing so that the baby can grow to be a content and happy person with ambition,compassion that can make a contribution to the world is the scariest thing ever.
Plus I hate the term babymaker so bad...

By Blogger Stacy, at 7:07 PM  

I agree Stacy...'breeder' is so much more refined and sophisticated.

By Blogger Phil, at 7:36 PM  

Choosing to have a child is indeed quite brave Dan since the choice usually involves thinking/brains to do so versus 'just having a kid' which anyone can do. That's why there's so much child abuse in the world, since too few people don't take the time to think about the choice & responsibility.

I made the choice pretty young not to go down that road(during one of the many babysitting episodes my mother imposed on my sis & I, babysitting the neighbors toddlers). I didn't want to be responsible for a small human's life, bring them into such a world as we live in or pass on my lovely family dysfunction.

Actually, it's usually those of us who do realize the work & responsibility involved & choose not to have kids who really should be parents.

By Anonymous August, at 7:52 PM  

what did you say to lindsay lohan?
did she sell you coke?

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3:44 AM  

I conceded that having a baby is a lot of work and a lot of responsibility. But when I think of "brave" acts, I think of someone doing something that the majority of the world's population would not have the guts to do, i.e. chasing a purse snatcher, parachuting into enemy territory, swimming with sharks, etc.

I'd be scared to have a baby, too, but I don't think that would make me brave if I actually went and had one. I'd be the ten-billionth person to do so.

Besides, the point of my post is that I've never even done anything as brave as having a baby. Which makes me even more lame than the people who claim that having a baby makes them brave.

And for the record, Lindsay Lohan basically gave me the brush off.

By Blogger dan, at 8:07 AM  

I hate,hate,hate the term breeder...bleh

Plus, Dan you said you had never done anything as brave in that Dan "riding the eurail in Germany,quit my stable job to work at a risky startup...I really have been brave poking fun at the sad saps who think having a baby is brave comments.

I also don't get why the amount of people who actualy do the brave act make it less brave.
I totaly agree with the person who said the act of having the baby is not brave at all or the responsibilty of doing the work that is not brave.It is the raising of the kid and preparing them for life that is overwhelmingly scary.
I also think the reason so many people do it is not because they are brave but because they don't think of the responsibility and that is why so many "breeders" fall into having them...
whatever,it is so stupid to be mad at your opinion on your blog...I don't care what you think...

By Blogger Stacy, at 9:37 AM  

I consider myself **brave** going into my second pregnancy knowing I'd be split open like a ripe tomato AGAIN. (The first time I was blissfully ignorant that it was no big deal.)

Wait...the second pregnancy wasn't planned...that makes me dopey dumb X2, not brave, I guess.

P.S. I did break up teen fight by driving my Tercel up onto a sidewalk and squealing down the street after the "bad guys". I'm tough that way.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:41 AM  

Catching ďBaby FeverĒ isnít all that brave. The scary part comes someplace in-between ďletís have a babyĒ (you know the tone of voice) and the actual birth of the baby, by then youíre aboard an out of control locomotive hauling TNT on a collision course of destruction. So, the decision to have a baby would be like deciding to purchase the train ticket, because a train ride could be fun! Is that brave?

At this point in my life, my decision to have a baby would be solely based on the fact that I think I could do it better than most people. Is that brave?


By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:50 PM  

I turned a cop away from my door and told him to get a search warrant. I did offer him a ginger ale first.


By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:51 PM  

I freaked at some bully in high school when he tried to shove me in my locker. I tore him a new one and kicked his shins and beat him about the head and neck. I weighed 114 at the time and wore glasses. Was it brave if I didn't even think about it, but just reacted? dunno. I think it's braver if you make a decision to act against your better judgement. Turns out I have no better judgement, I just react with the fight impulse when threatened.

It's not brave to have children, because everyone does it. it's expected of you.

-toddbee again

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:58 PM  

so lindsey gave you the brush off - what did you say to her?

i'm curious becasue i get tongue-tied when i see a lesser news anchor in a caribou coffee.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:14 PM  

It was in a really small eyeglass shop, so I pretended to try on frames with a sales associate (even though I don't actually wear glasses). At one point I turned to Lindsay and said "what do you think of these frames?" and she looked at me out of the corner of her eyes and then chose not to acknowledge my question. Then she told the sales associate that she was leaving to go eat sushi.

By Blogger dan, at 2:49 PM  

I work in Maternity in a hospital. It is not brave to have a baby. I don't care how the upper-middle class yuppie types want to dress it up. it is nature.
The brave part is trying to make them respectable humans and not just become their frineds/indulgers. Or stage mom - Mrs. Lohan, I'm looking at you.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:46 AM  

im a woman who doesnt want kids
and in one way I can see bringing a baby into this messed up world as the bravest thing you can do. on the other its just as brave to take the energy and do some thing else. how many people just end up having kids and thats it their big creation? as you saw from that little write up like 7 people wrote had a baby and only one went to college that worries me.

By Blogger Kari mochao, at 5:04 AM  

OK, first off- Hairspray was clearly the ONLY oscar contender because st. paul and baltimore are sister cities. Your coffeemates stood in solidarity with their sisters. We in Baltimore expect the same loyalty next year, when Step Up 2 is overlooked for the best film nomination. We promise to return the favor someday.

Now, when it comes to having a just isn't brave. Brave is facing insurmountable odds and having to overcome them in order to do something most people would never even attempt. It's swimming the english channel in a speedo or living among a herd of lions. Deciding to have a baby in rural Sierra Leone when you could easily have it in the hospital might be brave. But just having a baby...sorry, it's not enough.

By Blogger Radha, at 12:41 PM  

I think it's incredibly brave to leave public comments with hideous grammar mistakes and obvious phonetic errors, those are truly a mark of fearlessness.

You can always rely on those old chestnuts about "not bringing a baby into this terrible world" or "having babies isn't good enough to be counted as bravery" until you meet someone that will inspire you to do something you've always been terrified to attempt- such as having a baby or swimming the English Channel.

Of course, how could anyone possibly speak with such authority on the matter when they haven't even attempted the task?

By Blogger E.B. Whitehead, at 4:22 PM  

One person's bravery is often another person's pointless stupidity.

By Anonymous Karl, at 12:25 PM  

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