Babies and “The Hills”

First off, let’s be clear about one thing – I LOATHE reality TV. But recently, while on a training course in Vancouver, I found myself at a loose end for the night – brain dead from eight hours of school, and looking for some mindless entertainment. Flicking on the TV yielded sixteen channels of hysteria over H1N1, Dog the Bounty Hunter and The Hills on MTV. Given that The Hills seemed to be the best of a bad set of choices, and mildly curious because I’d seen the cast plastered all over the scandal rags but never seen the program, I settled in to waste half an hour of my life.

Partway through the episode, Heidi and Spencer went out for dinner. For those that don’t follow the program, I guess that Heidi and Spencer are pretty much de rigeur for the show’s cast, being improbably good-looking 20-somethings with no obvious source of income, a penchant for drama, and very little common sense. So they’re at dinner, and somehow, the subject of kids comes up.

Spencer – ‘I don’t want kids. Ever’

Heidi (without even looking up from her menu) – ‘Sure you do. You just don’t know it yet.’

Me – ‘BWUH?’

Okay, back up the truck.

You just married this guy. One – did you not talk about what you wanted from the future before you made that sort of commitment? If not, why not? And if so, how could this not have come up?

Two – what makes you think that he doesn’t know what we wants? As many childfree people can attest, some of us know from a VERY early age that we have no interest in becoming parents. Spencer may or may not be one of those, but when the love of your life makes a statement like that, do you not think it should at least give you pause? Given that I’m sure he doesn’t talk just to hear the sound of his voice (although I might be wrong on that), do you not think that maybe you should consider what he’s just said, rather than merrily continuing choosing the pasta for dinner?

Wow.

So I’m thinking – huh. This could get juicy. I might have to watch this for a while, because I want to know where this goes. (This is how reality TV hooks you, right?)

So the next time I see Spencer and Heidi, it’s her birthday, and she’s bitching him out because she wants a party. An episode and a half in, I’ve decided I don’t like Heidi. She’s whiny and bratty, but at least Spencer seems to be able to roll his eyes and let most of it slide off. So the episode progresses, Heidi gets her party, and voila! Spencer appears with two adorable fluffball puppies, and announces that ‘these are the only babies I’m ever going to give you!’ to the laughter of the assembled crowd. Heidi is all batting eyelashes and squeals of delight, and I think – good move, my man. That should give the maternal instincts something to work on for a while.

I had to tune in this week (and please be advised, I am watching this purely in the interests of research). Alas for poor Spencer, the gambit has been neatly sidestepped, and all hell is about to break loose. The episode opens with Heidi and the neighbour’s child playing with the puppies in the backyard, when Spencer joins them.

Heidi – ‘Enzo is so cute. I just love him.’

Spencer – ‘You don’t need kids. You have Enzo.’

Heidi – ‘I still want a baby. I want us to have a family. I want us to BE a family.’

Spencer – ‘I hear I, I, I. There’s a we in this marriage. What about what I want? Your husband?’

Heidi – ‘Maybe you just don’t know what’s best for us.’

Spencer – ‘Maybe you’re just selfish, and you’re just thinking about what YOU want.’

Heidi – ‘But I love you so much, that I want to have kids with you.’

Spencer – ‘But you have the cutest little babies on the planet right here.’

Heidi – ‘These are PUPPIES. Stop comparing babies to puppies. I’m not going to NOT have a family’.

Spencer – ‘Let’s talk about it in ten years.’

Heidi (getting cranky) – ‘Not in ten years, Spencer. I want to have kids NOW.’

Spencer – ‘We just got married two months ago!’.

Heidi – ‘Well, it takes a year!’

Spencer – ‘I can’t even look at you right now, you’re so crazy.’

Heidi – ‘Obviously we need to start planning, because I want kids sooner than later. I mean (voice drops) what if I did get pregnant?’

In return, she gets the death glare from Spencer, who says ‘Is that a threat?’ It’s at this point that Heidi decides that it might be time to beat a strategic retreat, and she flounces off into the house.

I’m sitting on the couch, wondering how many people have ever had THAT conversation, and betting the answer is quite a few. We’ve all met the stereotypical baby-rabid female, who is blinkered to the wishes of her partner and often financial reality as well, while she imagines a world full of sunshine and rainbows and gurgling, perfect infants. She wants her baby, society tells her it’s her God given right to have one, and nothing is going to stand in her way.

This is a sad situation for a lot of reasons. First, that the wishes and feelings of her partner are being blatantly disrespected. Spencer is right in calling her selfish and self absorbed – she’s completely tuned out his opinions as being irrelevant and unimportant, which bodes badly for the relationship.

Second, that she feels that she and Spencer can’t be a family of two, even for a little while. So many people make the mistake of rushing into parenthood without taking the time to explore the joys of marriage, couplehood and togetherness first, and to forge the bonds that strengthen and deepen a relationship. Children place terrible strain on relationships, and the stronger a marriage is to start with, the better it serves the people in it.

Third, where’s the fire? Heidi is 22 years old! It’s not like she has any reason to rush into motherhood, she has a good 8 to 10 years ahead of her with little chance of fertility issues. Your 20’s are the ideal time to explore all the fun things in life, while you’re young, strong, and relatively free of responsibilities. There are pros and cons to both sides of the start early/start late debate, and some people make great young parents, but then again, a lot of people don’t. Wisdom and maturity only comes through experience, and Heidi could do with a dose of both.

Fourth, by threatening the ‘oops’ card, she’s really shaken Spencer’s trust in her. Not a good move. It’s a sad fact that men have little control over contraception, save going the permanent route or using condoms, and as a result have to place (often misplaced) trust in their partners. Regardless of whether the threat was empty or not, it was made, and now it can’t be retracted – Spencer has a lot to think about, if he’s not going to end up painted into a corner.

So what happens next? Why is Spencer off to the doctor’s office? Stay tuned to find out!