Children born through IVF have no souls

An acquaintance reported recently that another guest at a BBQ was loudly critical of people who used IVF services and declared that children born via IVF ‘have no souls’.  As my friend (unknown to the gathering) was mid-cycle with her latest IVF attempt in conceiving a child, thins was highly distressing to her.  As the mother of a child conceived via IVF, the comment was insulting to my son and I was understandably indignant .  You don’t know whether to laugh or cry at dim-witted comments like that.

Young Donald is now 21 so I have had plenty of time to observe the soul-less creature.  He was a fairly conventional kid really.  Baulked at eating vegetables, had too much screen time, thought that I nagged him too much and protested at being made to walk or ride his bike when surely it would be much quicker for me to just drive him.

Admittedly he didn’t have much of a religious upbringing – well none really.  I had to attend a church service in an official capacity when he was about four and took him with me.  We sat up the front with the dignitaries.  During one of the hymns, all in attendance standing of course, I looked up from my hymn book to realise that he was standing on the pew along side of me, conducting the rest of the congregation.  I don’t think that we have attended a religious ceremony since then, except for a recent wedding in Japan in a Buddhist temple. I guess there wasn’t the need for someone without a soul.

When small Young Donald loved cuddle time (and still gives me beaut hugs), is always ready to give his mates a hand, and is very generous – especially for a soul-less person.  He has morphed from at times being a morose and moody juvenile to being a socially adept young man who charms one and all with his conversation.  It gives me a frisson of pleasure when people seek me out to tell me what a personable young man he is and how much they have enjoyed their conversation with him.  What a pity he doesn’t have a soul.

I am reminded of a Valentine’s Day a few years ago, when Daisy was very much a feature in young Donald’s life.  He took her out to dinner, selecting a cuisine the he knew she would enjoy.  When he brought her home, he had set up my massage table in his bedroom and scattered the whole room with red rose petals.  When they arrived home, she was greeted with soft lighting and massage oil.  Whatever else she was greeted with, I as his mother don’t really want to know, but think what he could have done if he actually had a soul.

I started to wonder just what might have been intended with the reference to ‘soul’ and resorted to online sources for interpretation and definition.  There were many, all much of a muchness and Wikipedia captured the essence with this explanation.

    “The soul, in many religious, philosophical and mythological traditions, is the incorporeal and in many conceptions immortal essence of a living thing.”

I’m not going to debate the presence or otherwise of a soul, whether from the religious, philosophical or mythological perspective.  In my son however, I can see and hear the essence of many who have gone before – my parents and probably their parents and it is possible that his essence will be reflected in those who are to come.  I see mannerisms, I hear laughter, I see reasoning, I see a sense of social justice, I see an observant young man – and I see an individual.  This individual has a resonance that impacts not only on myself, but also on his mates and those he holds near and dear.  Does not that impact render one immortal and if so, is that the influence of a soul, that incorporeal essence of being?

Whether or not my son has a soul is irrelevant really.   What that man was insinuating was that my child, and others who were conceived via assisted reproductive services, is somehow deficient and not a complete human being.  It’s that sort of bigotry that has fuelled the justification of those who would impose segregation on others, and worse.  I just hope for his sake that when the time comes that he wants to reproduce, that his swimmers are up to the task. How would he cope with fathering soul-less children of his own?  That would be karma.

Amsterdam

It seemed to take forever to get here, from one characterless airport to another.  Singapore Airport (Changi) would have to be the pits, especially with too much time to kill between connecting flights.  It was so expensive and full of ‘designer’ boutiques, i.e. Gucci, Prada, etc.

The flight from Singapore to Frankfurt was marred by a trio of Swiss people in the seats in front who insisted on leaving their seats fully reclined for the entire journey.  It made the travelling so uncomfortable for those of us in the seats behind and we ended up in a big verbal stoush.  I don’t usually get into verbal affrays with people, but the arrogance of these fellow travellers quite upset me – the view that I will do what I want and too bad if it adversely affects you.  When seats are jammed so closely together these days, it is really quite rude to recline you seat back as far as it goes, particularly if those behind are attempting to eat a meal.  I recline mine a little for resting, but would not impose myself so much on those seated behind.

Enough of that whinge.  On reaching Frankfurt, my travelling companion and I realised that we only had one hour before our flight to Amsterdam.  There was a walk of at least 1.5 kms through the terminal buildings, plus a couple of queues in relation to security and passport cheques.  The security check was the slowest that I have ever seen.  Each bag was xrayed and studied for some minutes before proceeding to the next.  Because my shoes have a metal trim, I took them off to avoid any dramas but I still set off the alarm (phone in pocket) and has the most detailed (and solemn) frisking to which I have ever been subjected.  We finally got to our boarding gate 5 minutes before take-off was due, and were relieved that we were allowed on the flight.  We were especially thrilled on arriving in Amsterdam today to see that our bags had also arrived.  I was expecting that they would be flying, rudderless and homeless around Europe.  Untrusting me!

As we approached Amsterdam on top of the clouds, dawn was just breaking.  The vibrant pinks and oranges at that crept over the horizon and tickled the clouds was quite beautiful.  When we broke through the cloud layer, it was still dark underneath.  What looked so amazing though were acres of glass houses, all illuminated with golden lights. They looked so bright. I took a photo, but don’t have the resources at the moment with which to upload it.

Dogs and cigarette butts are the first things that hit you about Amsterdam.  There were dogs accompanying their owners in the airport terminal, and the minute that you step out the door of the building, you are picking your way through a carpet of butts.  They stink too.  Nobody bothers about putting a butt in the bin – it is obviously not part of the local culture.

It is winter here of course and so quite chilly, but there is no wind today  meaning that the temperature is not as icey as it might otherwise be.  Everything is just grey.  The view from the train windows was full of lots of apartment blocks, all looking like lego blocks, but very utilitarian.  They looked dismal places to live and have none of the character of the central and older parts of Amsterdam.

We had to catch a ferry from along side the Central Railway station to get to the area of Amsterdam in which we are staying.  I was surprised  when the ferry drew up to the landing area, and discharged a mass of people not just on foot, but many of them on Bicycles and motor scooters.  The ferries, which are free to use, are not very big and so everyone is jammed in tightly and they are built to accommodate the bikes and scooters also.  It seems a very sensible approach.

Having just had a very Dutch meal of bread and cheese and ham, I can feel that exhaustion and lack of sleep are catching up with me.  Time for a kip.

Exasperation

Received a letter from Donald’s school yesterday to say that he has been withdrawn from one of his Year 12 subjects due to lack of attendance.  He has submitted assignments but has not maintained the required attendance.  This happened some months ago also (same subject) and I talked the teacher into taking him back.  I thought that he was attending classes now but clearly that wasn’t the case.

I am so cross, as for the sake of sitting through only a handful of classes, he has blown a year’s study.   I have done my bit for him in relation to this subject so if he wants to salvage the situation it is now up to him.  When I asked him for an explanation, he said he thought that as long as he submitted his work (all past the due dates of course) then he could get away without attending the classes, which he found too boring.  Der!!!  Like regulations don’t apply to him!  I doubt that he will get around to approaching his teacher as he doesn’t really stir himself in these situations, and always has an excuse as to why the teacher was unreasonable and probably wouldn’t listen to him anyway.  I hope that he surprises me though.

*******

Three days later.  I left this post in draft form as I have had such a busy week.  Came home tonight to find another letter from the school, referring to inadequate attendance for another subject – one which he is supposed to enjoy.  Daisy also attends this class and I thought that they were both attending together – the one subject for which they were maintaining attendance.  Just as well he is at work tonight as I would probably say things that I might regret later.

I am torn on treatment of this issue.  One view is to just let him crash and burn.  Donald must learn his own lessons and then figure out how to extricate himself from the bog hole in which he finds himself.  Another part of me says that this simply is not good enough and he needs to man up and learn some self-discipline and develop some moral fibre and backbone.  He is so feckless.  I should make him finish the last term of school and attend every day that he should (how I would do that I don’t quite know).

I have tried very hard not to be a helicopter parent, though probably out of frustration at his continual lack of progress over the years, I have helped him out more than I should.  That means he hasn’t confronted consequences enough.  When we discuss the implications of his actions (or inaction) Donald has a tendency not to accept what I say and to only believe in his own truths, even though they are based on heresay or his own limited experience and un-researched opinion.

As an implication for me (a sole parent) I must support him longer when he repeats school, accepting the resultant financial cost.  There has also been the time and input requirement as I have monitored deadlines, edited assignments and encouraged, pushed and cajoled.  Now we are facing another year of this process.  Ideally, he would have finished Year 12 and would be embarking on a character-forming Gap Year, as he is not ready for any form of post-secondary study.

I am experiencing frustration at the sheer stupidity of it – for the sake of a few hours sitting in class, he has blown a whole year’s worth of study.  If I express these opinions of course, then I am imposing my views or expectations on him and making his life miserable.  At least I give him something to complain to Daisy about.

Donald has totally embraced Daisy and her needs.  His life has been adapted around hers and she seems to fill a basic need that he has to be needed and to be supportive.  I know that this is understandable for a young person on the cusp of adulthood but it appears to me that he is subjugating his needs for hers.

It makes me start to ask questions of myself.  Has our two-person family unit left a gaping hole in his life and emotional well-being?  If Donald had grown up with two parents, would he have had more self-assurance and confidence in himself?  Would he have developed more emotional resilience?  These are impossible questions for me to answer, but they lurk at me through sleepless nights.