Sunday, October 14, 2012

Toddlers and Insects

  When is it not busy? When do you ever really think, hmm, there's nothing else I should be doing at this point?
  In any case, this past week was full of travel, meeting with old friends, getting a rejection letter for a manuscript (Grr! Time to work on that chapter ... again), getting grants (yea!), geeking out over plants, and playing with friends' young kids. There's nothing quite like bear-crawling with a 2-year-old around a pool and getting excited about seeing moths and ants.
This girl LOVED insects, and that made me extremely happy. It provided a nice contrast to the labs I taught later in the week that involved examining preserved insects. I think many of the young women felt a pressure to be scared or grossed out by insects, but by the end of lab, most of them were exclaiming over them and getting excited by a wasp's compound eye. I wanted to tell the 2-year-old's parents to never tell her she should be scared of bugs! Indeed, during lab, one male student decried that 'just because I don't like insects doesn't mean I'm a girl'. Sigh. I shared a glance with a female student and said  'just because I like insects doesn't mean I'm a boy.'
  Playing with cute young kids (and getting to hand them off to the parents when they need a dipper change) did get me thinking about kids, and the whole 'when does a female academic have kids?' thing. Two things give me hope that I can put off that decision. One, I could just freeze those eggs (here's a fun NYT article on that). Or, I'll get some eggs made from skin cells (original article in Science here). That's one way to avoid the problems associated with procreation at older ages, eh? Though that is definitely a consideration - increased incidence of Down's Syndrome is associated with older mothers. And increased occurrence of autism and schizophrenia are associated with older fathers. Geez, this post got upbeat in a hurry, huh? The long and short is that there are now options for postponing parenthood (some a ways off, I realize), and that means I can keep playing with "Mr. Ant" (I couldn't quite explain haploid insect life cycles yet) and cute kids...without the diapers.

PS Also, this story from NPR on freezing eggs 

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