I am thirty-six and my husband, Greg, is forty. We have been married for over a decade, and love each other madly.
We decided when we got married that, although a monkey would be a really fun pet to have, children would be easier to take care of. We felt that monkeys would be too noisy, too messy, and too demanding.
We have been very fortunate in that fate has blessed us with five beautiful, healthy children, and not a minute goes by that we don’t feel grateful for the incredible gifts that have been bestowed upon us.
And not a day goes by that we don’t wonder why we didn’t consider the monkey idea more.
In the animal kingdom, primates are our closet relatives, genetically speaking. Throughout the course of parenthood, my husband and I have learned a few things. One is that children are indirect proof of this link, and another is that monkeys are quieter, cleaner, and far less demanding.
Social structure dictates that apes must engage in certain behaviors. Flinging feces is a sign of territorialism. Shrieking is demonstrated as a warning to others, and sharing is a sign of unity among the group. They all work together for the greater good, and at the end of the day, nothing beats a good lice-picking session to bring everyone together.
Children, on the other hand, fling their feces for entertainment purposes, and find that it also serves well as a tool in which to get the panic-stricken attention of their parents.
Shrieking is demonstrated at any place, at any time, usually for no apparent reason.
Sharing is not an act of goodwill. It is a behavior forced by altruistic parents wishing to create unity, and usually results in serious demonstrations of territorialism, followed by shrieking.
To survive, monkeys eat leaves from the trees they live in and ants from nearby anthills. Children eat leaves and bugs as well. The leaves come from the plants in the ceramic containers of hallways they live in, and the bugs come from the windowsills.
Coincidence? I don’t think so.
I wish I spoke ape — there are so many questions I have for mother monkeys.
Do their children wake them in the morning by prying open their eyelids? Do they ever have days when they wish the “Man With the Big Yellow Hat” would come and catch their naughty, rule-challenged boy monkeys, the ones who constantly leave banana peels laying around the branches and pull the tails of their sisters? Do their kids regularly eat the entire hill of termites, even though a limit of three is clearly set? When they are trying to have a conversation with the other mothers in their clan, do the infant monkeys quietly go off and write on the jungle walls with berries that stain permanently? If so, what do they consider an adequate punishment for such an offense?
Do they ever get to go to the bathroom all by themselves?
Does it hurt to go braless and have those things flopping all over the place?
Do they beat on their chests because their children have already caused them to pull out all their hair?
Do their hearts leap into their throats the first time their youngest wants to go down the mudslide alone?
At the end of the day, do they gaze down upon the sleeping bodies of their offspring and marvel at their delicate little fingers and toes?
If they had it to do all over again, would they have chosen to have a human instead?