Just Not Built That Way

by 

Author : Michael T Schaper

Tanya looked out across the room. The party was in full swing and, because both of her sisters now had children of their own, any chance at conversation was being drowned out by a multitude of little voices. She swooped down, picked up one of her young nephews, and spun him around in her arms.

“How does that feel, honey?”

“Whee!” was the only answer she got. The three year old’s face was lit up with sheer pleasure.

Kids, Tanya thought. So full of life and love.

Tanya glanced across the room at her husband Peter. His attention was clearly elsewhere, in an animated conversation with her brother-in-law, both of them ignoring the good-natured chaos around them.

“Hey,” she shouted over the noise, “want to join us?”, but Pete just shook his head and turned away.

Tanya sighed. We can fly through the depths of space, use nanotechnology to extend our lives, climb Everest and even build perfect robots, she told herself. But we still can’t work out why some males warm to children and others don’t.

“All good, Tan?” Her youngest sister materialized alongside, extra wineglass in hand.

Tanya took a deep gulp and shrugged. “Five years,” she said, taking another long draught. “I’m five years older than you. Yet here you are, with a family of your own. What have I got?”

The cherished hope of a child of her own seemed to be slipping further away every year.

Ever since she’d first met Peter, Tanya had known that a natural conception wasn’t possible. But even all the many other treatments hadn’t bought her any closer to having her own family.

“If you still want to try, then you have to do something about it,” her sister said. “Have you ever thought of adoption? If Peter agrees, that is.”

And that was precisely the problem. “We could apply you know,” she explained to Peter after they’d left the party, “and get a response fairly quickly. But the adoption agency has to know that we’re both keen to do this. I can’t be the only parent in this relationship.”

Peter stopped and looked into her eyes. He was thinking, really thinking it through, Tanya realized. She could almost hear all the gears in his brain ticking over. Then he shook his head. “I’m sorry, really. But it’s not something that interests me. Hasn’t in the past, doesn’t now. It’s just not the way I am.”

Weren’t guys designed to get better at dealing with kids the more time spent around them? It didn’t seem to be working for Peter.

They drove home without saying another word. Tanya would have felt her heart was breaking, if she hadn’t already expected this answer.

*****

She woke the next morning with a still heavy heart. Peter was standing in the doorway, as he did every Sunday morning, her breakfast on a tray. He was good like that, Tanya realized. Good on the predictable. And kids weren’t like that. They were messy, confronting, hard to understand or control.

He placed the tray on the bed beside her and giving her a long kiss. “I’m sorry I can’t give you what you want. I guess I’m just not wired that way, am I?” he said with a wistful smile.

She looked at him closely for a minute, this beautiful husband of hers. Peter was right: he wasn’t built that way.

And her sister was also right. If Tanya wasn’t happy with that, then she had to do something about it.

She leant over, kissed Peter softly, and ran her hands through his hair until she found the spot. It took just a few seconds to switch data chips, then wait for the reset function to work. She smiled at him once more, then decided they could go looking for nursery decorations this afternoon. There. Now he was wired that way.

 

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