My Granddaughter Wants A Little Sister, But Not Just Any Little Sister


Yesterday my granddaughter Tess, age 8, marched into the kitchen and declared to her mother that she wanted a baby sister, specifically, a five-year-old sister — someone she could play with.

“Babies always start out as babies,” her mother informed her. “And they’re a lot of work.”

“Then let’s get one from the shelter,” Tess countered.

Yes. From the shelter.

Wouldn’t that be great? I’m sure that everyone out there who can’t conceive would adore that solution. In fact, everyone would adore that solution. Of all the women I know who have borne children, love their children, even those who want more children, not one has ever said to me, “I wish I could go through that birthing process again. That was fun!”

First, there’s the realization that you’re pregnant. Although this can be a joyful time, it also means saying goodbye to life as you know it. Even if you already have kids. Everything is going to change — usually for the better, but not always.

Second, try this. Tie a soft, fluffy pompon to your ankle.

Now, every single month, replace it with a larger soft, fluffy pompon. I don’t care how adorable this pompon is, after nine months of wearing it, you’d be quite annoyed by this pompon. And, even though it’s not nearly as heavy as an eight-pound baby and the big sack of water in which the baby resides, you’d want it removed!

So, you’d go to the doctor, who would say, “OK, I can remove it and give you, instead, an adorable little baby, but first there will be quite a lot of agony. Are you OK with that?”

And you’d say, “No.”

And the doctor would say, “Well, you have no choice, and we’re doing it right this minute.”

“What? Now?” But the pompon would know “it was time,” so the doctor would remove it and hand you a baby, together with a rather hefty bill.

But imagine if you could enjoy those nine months of your life without the annoying pompon tied to your ankle. Imagine if you could just bop down to the Baby Shelter when you felt ready to change your life. And imagine if there were cribs full of sweet babies to choose from.

Would you choose the one screaming its head off? No.

Would you choose the one that was eerily silent? No.

Would you choose twins or triplets or quadruplets or octuplets? Probably not the first time. In fact, I bet you’d choose the baby who seems most like you.

But that still doesn’t solve Tess’s problem — she wants a five-year-old baby.

She’d have to go to the section of the shelter that houses “returns.” And just like we balk about buying a box that has obviously been re-sealed, her mother would balk about choosing this child — why was it returned in the first place?

For Tess, the answer seems to lie in depending upon the way things have always been done. So I join with her, looking at her mother with puppy eyes and asking, “Won’t you please have another baby?” and her mother swiftly answering, “No.”

And that is that… for now… we think.