At some point in American history, somewhere between Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? and Sarah Gubbins’s The Kid Thing (playing at Moxie Theatre through December 11), parenthood became both super public and super discretionary.
Back in the day, being cursed with childlessness might well have driven an otherwise ordinary American couple insane, but it nevertheless remained a subject polite folk didn’t readily broach. Or at least it seems that way. In the twenty-tens, “the kid thing” is something you debate with your besties over craft beer. Not only is discussing the matter socially acceptable (even among relative strangers), there’s a whole spectrum of positions to take.
Everybody has friends with kids or friends who want kids. And everybody also has friends without kids or friends who don’t want kids. Members of both camps can usually articulate at least half a dozen valid reasons bolstering their respective choices, and The Kid Thing deals with a bunch of them in turn.
But here’s the thing: is it a weird conversation to have in the first place?
Not “good” or “bad,” just a little odd, because this seems like such an instinctive matter, as though everybody’s looking for the reasons that back up something they just know. When Leigh (Sarah Karpicus) talks about certainty in The Kid Thing’s second act, we get the sense that she’s never been surer of where she stands, and she doesn’t need reasons, which gets right to the heart of the matter.
In a way, talking out feelings on having kids is like trying to explain why you love (or hate) black licorice. Nobody needs a reason because the knowledge comes from the gut, although it seems somehow important to give a justification when pressed.
Everybody in The Kid Thing has her own unique position on that “kid thing,” each simultaneously spot-on and irrelevant. There’s an inherent weirdness we’ve all felt whenever anyone brings up this most personal, universal, and inexplicable matter with the same pragmatism as, “Have you been to that cute new bistro on Sixth yet?”