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Baby Club

by Roger Bourke White Jr., copyright January 2017

 

Introduction

This story is about having babies and raising them in the 2050's.

It is about how all the interesting choices that new health technologies will bring change the choices a person faces once they decide to have a baby. It is also about a social difference -- raising the child as being part of a baby club, rather than being part of a marriage. I envision baby clubs as becoming a much more popular child raising institution in the 2050's -- as popular as marriage, or even more so.

The many choices in creating babies and raising them

Health technologies, artificial intelligence and powerful gene editing tools are going to be bringing about lots of changes in how children are created and raised. There are going to be many, many more choices in how to accomplish creating the zygote, incubating the fetus, and raising the child.

A woman or man who decides to have and raise a child is going to be facing all these choices and having to pick and choose between them. It's not going to be "birds and bees simple" anymore.

The origin of baby clubs

I foresee baby clubs as being a popular child raising lifestyle in the 2050's -- this is what the single mom and other alternative child raising environments of the 2010's will evolve into. It will become popular and respectable because it meshes more easily with the lifestyles of those who want to mix child raising with many activities other than marriage.

Marriage is going to continue evolving away from having child raising at its core. I envision marriage as getting wrapped up in Tattoos and T-Shirts issues -- it is going to become a lot more about personal expression and a lot less about getting children born and raised. This means marriage will evolve into a lifestyle choice that is a lot more expensive, a lot more elaborate and ritualized, and a lot more about being in love. It will be less about raising children and creating social ties between in-laws. This also means that while fewer people choose to indulge in it, those who do will be much more enthusiastic about their choice than average married people of the 20th century were. Some married folk will raise children, but many will be marrying for other reasons that center on other forms of personal expression such as the romance, the wedding and conducting social functions as a couple.

This evolution in what marriage is about will boost the popularity of baby clubs for those who want to have their child raising happen in simpler, less expensive, and more varied ways, and in an environment that is centered on child raising.

This story is exploring how all these choices will affect "baby making in the 2050's".

The Cast

In order of appearance --

Janalee Crosby -- 30's, AR engineer, into tennis and bicycling, she is ambitious and living an ambitious person lifestyle, not a TES/necessity person lifestyle

Cynthia-975 -- Janalee's cyber muse, a moderately expensive one, who is physical and quite good at dealing with human personalities

Florence Manning -- 40's, personnel admin, also ambitious and who works at same company as Janalee

Mildred Mingleforth -- 50's, the manager of the Hannaford Baby Club, she has a personable style

Robert Griswold -- 30's, clarinetist, modern dance dancer, slim, tall and good looking, Janalee has her eye on him for DNA

Cheri Albright -- 20's, attractive in a fashion model way, salesperson at Twinkle Star, an agency offering pro DNA

Sly -- 20's, black and hoodie dressed, offering black market pro DNA

Nana Zima -- 30's, slim and black of South Sudanese descent, the director of the Nottingham baby club

It's time

Janalee Crosby is a woman in her 30's and she takes care of herself so she is slim and athletic -- these days tennis and mountain bicycling get most of her athletic attention. For work she is a professional woman who works as an augmented reality (AR) engineer designing training courses for humans and cybers. Her current project is designing courses for assembling components that go into large cargo ships.

This morning as she works through her bowl of breakfast cereal neither biking or designing are on her mind. Something much closer to home has her thoughts. As she finishes her cereal she opens up to Cynthia-975, her cyber muse.

"It's time."

"Time for what?"

"My baby."

"That's a surprise."

"Well, I've been thinking about it for a while. And now Kathy Kratch, my HR VP at work, has been saying at the pep talks that company policy has changed -- it is now that taking maternity leave every few years is a bright spot on our performance reviews. I guess management has jumped whole hog onto this 'Baby Gap' issue."

Cynthia takes this surprise in stride, "Well... you have watched the 'Birds and Bees' video courses, so you know what you're getting into.

The first big question is: What Baby Club do you want to join?

And the second one is: How natural do you want this baby to be?"

Janalee has been thinking about this for a while. Her answers are equally in stride, "I think I'll look first at getting into the one Florence is in. I like her, and she says great things about it."

"I'll check if they have an opening..." Cynthia gets on her internal communicator and gets a quick reply, "Yes, they do. Would you like me to schedule an interview?"

"Let me talk a bit with Florence first. We'll schedule while I'm at work."

"This means lots of change. You'll have to move out of here, you know."

"I'm ready for it."

"So what DNA do you want to use?"

Janalee doesn't have a quick answer to this one, "That one is tougher to answer. It's sure not something simple to decide."

"Do you want more advice?"

"...Yeah, I can use that."

"Who from? I can make recommendations."

"I hope so! Gosh! When this topic comes up it seems like half the world wants to talk about the best way to make babies, and the other half about best ways to raise them. Does the baby club offer good advice on this?"

"They do, if you want sperm from an anonymous donor. The big question is: do you want DNA from someone specific? If so, that may take some more planning and negotiating."

Janalee is thinking hard about this. She has had boyfriends, and a couple would be great to "have in the baby's eyes" as the current slang goes. But there are other good possibilities, too. There are professional and celebrity sperm donors... and even wilder possibilities, like DNA from girls. She is still thinking hard about this one.

She tells Cynthia, "Yeah... no answer to that yet."

Enough for now. She gets up from the table, "Time for work. More talk when I get back."

Deep in thought she heads out the door. Cynthia has called up a driverless car for her. Once she is out the door Cynthia and the other home cyber take care of cleaning up after her.

<<<*>>>

At work Janalee works as an augmented reality (AR) engineer designing training courses for humans and cybers. Her current project is designing courses for assembling components that go into large cargo ships. She types and talks as her AR course shows how to deal with technical issues.

When she takes a break she goes to the exercise room. This is also AR equipped. There she mixes some bicycle riding along scenic trails with some vigorous tennis matches. She is good at both.

Then comes lunch time at work and Janalee is eating with Florence Manning. Florence is a seasoned office worker in her 40's. She doesn't have Janalee's technical skills but she uses her wisdom about people to keep her position at the company. She keeps fit with yoga, modern dance and swimming.

Janalee says, "Florence, I'm thinking of joining you at the baby club."

Florence looks at her for a moment before commenting, "Starting early, are you?"

"I want to make sure this child gets raised right. I want a child who grows up to be a winner. If there are... unpleasant surprises... I want to have a chance to try again."

"Are you expecting unpleasant surprises?"

"No! I've checked my own DNA and it's fine. It's editable." then she adds, "But even these days life is full of surprises."

Florence takes a sip of coffee, "That part is still so true." she sighs, but doesn't bother to explain further.

"Well, we have 'new hopeful' introductions on Wednesday nights. Should we sign you up?"

"We should."

Both go into zombie mode for a few seconds to have their internal communicators handle the scheduling. Then they come back to real world interacting.

Florence gives her a pat on the arm, "You're on, dear. I'm looking forward to it."

Welcome to the club

It's Wednesday night. The Hannaford Baby Club is a nicely appointed twenty unit apartment complex that has been built specifically to support a baby club. Janalee has done video tours, now she is at the complex to do the in-person tour. Cynthia comes along as well -- she will be even more a part of the baby club environment than Janalee will.

The New Hopeful presentation explains the preliminaries. There are four other attendees besides Janalee, Florence and Cynthia. Mildred Mingleforth, the manager, is the presenter. Mildred is in her fifties, medium height and build, and has a personable style.

Mildred explains, "The apartments surround a courtyard that is a medley of playgrounds designed to support lots of styles of kids' activities and support kids of all ages up to those who are of entering high school age. The equipment in the playground is transformable. It can quickly be adapted between things such as merry-go-rounds and seesaws for elementary school kids to basketball courts and track courses for middle school kids.

Outside, on two of the sides, is a wooded creek flowing into a small pond. The kids can play in these. They are well monitored and equipped with rescue cyber.

Interspersed in between the apartments themselves are rooms that serve as activity centers. They can be used as labs and support other projects that the kids will get involved in such as dancing, yoga and plays. They can also be used for parties of various sorts."

After the presentation the hopefuls have interviews with club members. Mildred, Florence, Janalee and Cynthia meet in Mildred's office. They start right in.

"Any questions, Janalee?" asks Mildred.

Being here and putting so much attention into the baby business is getting Janalee a bit giggly-style excited -- kind of like she felt when she went on her first date. "Oh, dozens and dozens about this whole baby making and raising business, but just a couple about the club.

First, do you have any policies on mixing job and club activities?"

Mildred says, "Yes, we do." she looks at Florence, "Florence is quite well versed in them."

Florence says, "I do just fine with them. I can fill you in on those that affect our workplace."

Janalee is satisfied with that answer, "Second, I've still got a lot of questions about who's DNA to mix with mine. Can you help with that?"

Mildred smiles and says, "We've got six courses we offer on that, and we have regular guest lecturers. Plus, you can get lots and lots of advice from the other ladies. This is something they love talking about." she grins even more, "And, we've got plenty of examples to show off."

Janalee laughs at that, "OK. That's it for questions."

Mildred happily says, "OK. Let's go walk about."

The questions taken care of, they go on a tour. Much of the tour is about meeting other club members, with everyone watching how Janalee and Cynthia interact with club members and their kids. Janalee has done her homework. She and Cynthia began researching the club member resumes as soon as Janalee made her choice. And, likewise, the club members have seen Janalee's resume. As Janalee tours she and the club members greet each other much as they would acquaintances at a business convention.

The first person they meet is Angela Hotchkiss. She is in her sixties and a ten year member of the club. Her daughter, Alice, is nine. She is quite visibly sizing up both Janalee and Cynthia as she walks over to greet them.

"Hi Janalee, I'm Angela. Welcome to the club. What made you pick Hannaford?"

"Florence is my friend at work."

Angela smiles at that, "Excellent. We like connected members. Complete strangers are so unpredictable. And you have a good idea of what you're getting into. Good to meet you." and she walks on.

Next the meet Sally. She greets Janalee with a hug and asks, "Have you got a boyfriend these days? Is he likely to be visiting you here?"

"No, not at this point."

"Good. We've had some pretty strange ones show up once in a while. The fewer the better as far as I'm concerned." After a little more small talk she moves on too.

Next they walk by a couple of the playgrounds, and then meet some kids. The adults Janalee has researched. The kids are brand new to her, and she is brand new to them.

In the playgrounds the kids are everywhere, and every age, and are up to all sorts of activities. Mixed in with them are cyber muses doing the tending -- they range from robot looking to very human looking, like Cynthia.

"My goodness, they certainly get involved in so many different activities." comments Janalee as they walk.

"We support variety here." replies Mildred, "Some accuse us of supporting Tiger Momism, but that's way beyond what we support."

"Tiger Momism?"

"That's when the kids are subjected to some really extreme environments -- the kinds that make them catch fevers and occasionally break arms and legs. We're not into that. We're much more loving."

Florence adds, "But we don't support Tender Snowflakism, either. That's when the kids never experience anything more violent than a mildly combative computer game or videos of some kittens whining for more milk from a mom."

Mildred adds, "The moms here want their kids to contribute meaningfully to society. The activities you see going on here are designed to encourage them to learn how to do that. These kids learn to aspire."

Florence says, "Speaking of kids, here comes mine." Five year old Patsy Manning comes running up to her mom and gives her a big hug.

"Hi mom, I just finished it." she says in an excited way.

"Finished what?"

Patsy motions for Lucy, her muse, to come over. Lucy comes over with a robot toy that looks like a pony.

Florence says, "Wow! How long have you been working on that, dear? It's so beautiful!"

Patsy is so proud, "For two days now. Lucy has been showing me how."

Florence admires it, then says, "Why don't you show it to Janalee, here. Janalee is my friend at work, and she may be coming here to live... if she likes it."

Patsy looks at her in a new light, and shows Janalee her work, "Hi Janalee." she says.

Janalee admires what she has made. "Wow! How old are you, dear?"

"I'm five."

Janalee is even more impressed, "I think I would have been six or seven before I could make something like that. You're learning a lot here, Patsy."

Patsy smiles at that. Lucy says, "We still have another project to work on this evening, Patsy, let's get back to that."

Patsy says, "Bye now." and she and Lucy head back to the lab room they came from.

Janalee has a thought, and says to Cynthia, "Are you ready to change your lifestyle, too?"

Cynthia nods, "Umm... I can see I'll be doing some learning, too."

As they are walking Janalee notices something new. She mentions it, "All the children I see are girls."

Mildred answers, "That's right. The club members are girl favoring."

"If I choose to go with a boy, will that make a difference?"

Mildred stops walking and faces her, "In a word, yes. A committee would have to vote on that choice, and, in truth, they won't support it without compelling reason."

Janalee is surprised to hear this, "Wow!"

Florence adds her editorial, "Boy children are so difficult, so noisy, so rambunctious. And when they grow up they become so useless, all men are useless, don'cha know."

Janalee listens and takes this in. This was a side of Florence she hadn't been aware of. The tour continues.

They meet Betsy Wollington, a woman in her sixties. She is cradling her six month old. "I planned ahead." she tells Janalee, "I had some eggs extracted and frozen when I was a twenty-year old." She smiles at the child. "This is the result."

"Where did you grow the fetus?" asks Janalee.

"In me. I had some uterus rejuvenating therapy."

Next they meet Lois Longmeer. She is in zombie mode as they walk up, and stays that way for about thirty seconds after they get close. Lois is in her early sixties and has an executive style to her manner. This is not surprising since she is the president of a medium-size company running a chain of urban vertical farms.

She pops out and begins the conversation, "Hi you're Janalee, right? Nice to meet you." she gives Janalee a quick hug, "Welcome to Hannaford. Are you enjoying it?"

Janalee nods, "This is quite an interesting place."

"Have you met my daughter, Anna? She's over there." Lois points, and waves at Anna to come over. Anna does. She is an eight year old. "Anna, this is Janalee. She is thinking about joining the club."

Anna gives Janalee a hug too. She says, "It's a really good place, Janalee, I really enjoy it. I have lots of friends here and I get good grades, too."

Janalee smiles at this testimony, "That sounds wonderful, Anna, it sounds like your mother has made some really good choices."

Anna nods her head enthusiastically, "I think so."

Lois tells her, "You can run along now, dear." and Anna does.

Lois turns to Janalee, "Anything else I can help you with, Janalee?"

"No..."

As she says that Lois goes back into zombie mode, she is a busy woman.

The meeting people is finished, the trio head for the entrance and a car is waiting when they get there.

Overall, the tour has surprised Janalee, she has learned a lot. As they walk for the entrance she comments, "There sure is a lot of variety in this club."

Mildred says, "We tolerate lots of variety in ages. But we try to select people with similar goals and aspirations. We want mothers who are comfortable being with each other."

At the entrance Mildred says, "Keep us posted on your thoughts, Janalee. We want to know if we should keep a space open." she smiles. Janalee smiles back at that. She takes one last look around and then she and Cynthia get in the car.

In the car as they are headed home Cynthia asks, "What do you think?"

"I think I'm going to have to make up my mind on this boy child issue real quickly."

Checking on some personal DNA

It is evening the next day. Janalee is at a community center. She is watching the performance of a small band using acoustic instruments. She is enjoying the show, and in particular the performance of Robert Griswold, a tall slim good looking man in his 30's. He is also a clarinetist with the local symphony, into modern dance, and one of the guys that Janalee is thinking about mixing DNA with.

As the performance ends she applauds heartily. And as soon as Robert gets his equipment packed up they head out together for some dinner at a nice restaurant. They have known each other about nine months now, and done some cuddling under the sheets, so this is a familiar dinner they are having -- not a lot of suspense involved.

Janalee pops the question, "Robert, I'm thinking of starting a child, and I'm thinking of mixing in your DNA. Just thinking, mind you. What are your thoughts?"

Robert is surprised to hear this, "Are we talking about mixing in wedding rings as well?"

"No. This is just DNA. I'll be living in a baby club and raising the child there."

"Well, my first thought is I'm honored. Thanks for making the offer." he eats a few more bites before he continues, "Do you want anything from me but DNA? Do you want support? Do you want help raising the child?"

"No. I'll be supporting the child myself, and I and the baby club will be doing the raising."

"What happens if I really want to get involved in the raising?"

Now it's Janalee's turn to be surprised, "Do you? If you do, I'll have to take it up with the baby club. It could be an issue, many are pretty woman-centric."

Robert looks down at his hands, "This is something I've been giving some thought to, as well. The thought of just handing off sperm and waving bye-bye rubs me the wrong way." He looks up at Janalee, "It may not be stereotypical guy thinking, but it's how I think."

"So, your sperm comes stringy... I mean, with strings?"

Robert grins, "And it might be sticky too."

They both laugh at this, and then the conversation moves on to other topics. This is a pleasant night out, not a decision making night out.

<<<*>>>

Back at home Janalee does some more on-line research about commercial DNA sources. There are a lot, and they do lots of advertising. To her it feels like what her grandma encountered when she decided to buy a new car -- lots of images of success and power mixed in with lots of descriptions of features. Cynthia is there helping her.

The advertisement that grabs her heart-strings is the one that shows a young man graduating from college. He hugs his mom for a moment then switches to just holding hands and says, "Thanks mom. I know you did a lot of sacrificing for me. But... I think it's paying off. And... I really love you!" he hugs her again, for longer this time, and she melts into it. While they are hugging this time the ad streams by a list of accomplishments the boy has already achieved. When they break apart this time the boy gives his mom a mischievous grin and says, "Would you like to meet my girlfriend?" He points, and she is a lovely looking coed standing nearby also in cap and gown.

Her heart loves it, but her analytic side isn't as impressed, there are several other brands touting better features. On the features presented side she likes one from Twinkle Star DNA Agency.

And overriding all the talk about features is the expense -- the really attractive sperm packages don't come cheaply. Thinking back on her grandma again, the top-of-the-line sperm prices seemed comparable to what she would have spent on a car.

She mutters to Cynthia, "It looks like there's going to be some serious budget planning happening along with this baby."

"I'm ready to help."

For the next couple hours Janalee and Cynthia work up spreadsheets about what a baby is going to cost over the years. As an option, they also work up what two babies will cost to see what kinds of savings and synergies come with two.

Overall, it's complicated. There are so many ways to spend money on the child, and there are so many ways the government will offer help, but with so many strings attached! Even with Cynthia's help it takes most of the evening to sort through just the basic options. By the end of the evening Janalee has a grasp of the basic finances, but these will vary a lot based on the choices she makes for DNA, incubating, baby club and how many kids she decides to have. Whew!

And she is now back to thinking about the boy/girl choice. It's such a simple one, but it affects so many other elements, such as what clubs she can get into. And then...

"My Goodness!" she throws her hands up in dismay. She takes a break from all this "Yes, but-ing" (as she calls it) and goes back to thinking about projects at work. Compared to what she has just been through, these are much easier to comprehend.

Inside/outside me?

Back at work, and on a lunch break, Janalee asks Florence, "Did you grow Patsy inside you?"

"No. The doctors told me my uterus was too stiff. I could have done some therapy, but I decided I'd let an incubator take care of Patsy while I took care of my dance technique. I was just mastering some serious new moves at the time. It paid off: Once I got those mastered I transferred to the New Conceptions Dance company."

Janalee is impressed hearing that, "Congrats on that!"

"So it turned out well. Patsy has come out well and my aspirations in both children and dance have been comfortably accomplished. Speaking of, how's your progress coming?"

"So much to think about! And this boy issue keeps coming back into my mind." she looks at Florence, "I haven't decided, but if I go boy I'll likely be looking for a different club."

Florence gives her arm an understanding pat, "I understand, and if you want a recommendation, let me know."

Janalee is relieved at that. Lunch continues with different topics coming to the fore.

Checking out Pro DNA

Janalee is in the office of Twinkle Star DNA Agency. It is a professional person DNA offering agency. This is DNA from people who make a some money offering their's. Some make a pretty good living off of it, and some offer it at a price that fits in her budget.

Cheri Albright, the lady she talks to, is pleasant in a salesperson selling high end product sort of way. She is in her twenties and has worked on her looks like she is a fashion model. When Janalee comes into her office she waves and says cheerily, "Hi," she goes into zombie mode for just a second, "Janalee, what can I help you with today?"

"I'm exploring getting some DNA."

"For you?"

"Yes, for me. It's time."

"Good. I like dealing with the person directly, and someone who is ready. We get so many curious relatives and friends coming in. They should be checking this information out on-line."

"So, I've been looking at James Stewart DNA. It seems to have the features I want."

"Do you want it straight, or with modifications?"

"Oh, the basic ones. Things like Vitamin C metabolism."

"OK. The contract for basic is quite simple. But the more modifications you want the more complex it becomes. Those modifications come from third parties working over the DNA."

"You don't do those in-house?"

"We package, we don't create. Creating is the work of talent. We are a talent agency, not the talent."

Janalee talks a bit longer. She discovers that, yes, this using pro DNA gets legally complicated as well as expensive. "But if it makes a better child..." is Cheri's theme as they talk. The problem here is that Janalee has read lots of articles by critics who say this pro DNA business is just a racket that feeds on hopes and dreams. That explains the contract hoop-jumping that comes with this choice, it is designed to protect the talent and the agency from remorse.

By the time they are finished, her chat with Cheri has not reassured her. She sighs as she is walking out through the lobby. More research ahead.

The Black Market

Janalee really does want the best for this upcoming child.

This is a field that is changing rapidly and one that picked up a lot of FDA heritage -- which means, as she discovered at Twinkle Star, lots of legal involvement. But there are alternatives that are not so legally entwined. There are players who picked up their heritage from offering mind altering, not FDA approved offerings. Their mentors were in the cannabis and designer drug scene, and they play a lot faster, looser and cheaper.

She is now thinking hard about exploring something in this arena. The first thing she discovers is that these people aren't nearly as straightforward to contact. But she finally locates one with an office that is currently behind an abortion clinic. She heads over.

The person she talks with here is night-and-day different from Cheri Albright. It is a man dressed in a hoodie who looks like a gangsta-rappa wannabe.

"Call me Sly." he says when she comes in, "What'cha here for?"

"DNA. Call me Toots." responds Janalee, getting into the mood.

"OK, Toots, how much do you want to spend?"

"What are you offering for a kilobuck?"

Sly makes a face at that, "That's all, Toots? I guess you're looking for a bargain." He sighs, gets up and looks through a filing cabinet behind his desk -- a for-real filing cabinet with for-real paper in it -- and pulls out a single page brochure.

"This doesn't leave the room, and no pictures!" he says as he hands it to her. The page has a picture of a handsome man at the top and specifications below it.

Janalee looks it over, the specs are impressive for the price. She looks up and says, "If I go for this, what happens?"

"You get me an egg, or three, and two weeks later I give you a zygote, or two, or three. What you do with them after I give them to you is purely up to you. But, if they grow up, they should be some red-hot items." he looks her over, "In your case, toots, white-hot." and grins at that.

"And if they aren't? If they come out DOA? If they come out... defective?"

"If they're DOA, we try, try again. If they're defective... ah well, try, try again, on your dollar." then adds, "These people I work with are top-of-the-line. Sorry, I can't personally give you a list of recommenders, but check on the street. My rep is rock-solid, and my people do primo work."

Janalee has the message. She gets up and says, "OK. I'll do some checking. I'll be back in touch if I like what I find out."

"Don't take any wooden nickels." he is back into zombie mode before she even turns around to head out.

Who to talk to now?

It's breakfast time a week later. Work has been keeping Janalee busy so baby issues have waited. She doesn't feel bad about that, there has been so much to think about. But this morning Cynthia brings it up again.

She has a warm glow about her when she says, "Janalee, I think I may have found the right club for you."

"Really?" Janalee perks up and pauses gobbling.

"I've been researching. There is a club that's near your work that has women who are both ambitious and tolerant of boys. The biggest catch is that most of the women are immigrants. This is why they are both tolerant of women with many different aspirations, and support raising aspiring children. The big question I can't answer is: are these women too diverse for you to be comfortable living with?"

"Well... schedule a visit and we'll find out." Janalee resumes eating with more enthusiasm. Ambitious women don't sound like a problem to her.

Nottingham Club

Janalee tours the Nottingham Baby Club. This is the club Cynthia has discovered. Physically, it looks a lot like the Hannaford club, but the members look quite different.

Janalee admits it to herself, she is surprised at the diversity she sees as she walks the grounds. There are woman who are white and dressed as conventionally as she is, but they are in the minority. Surrounding them in large numbers are African and Asian women who are dressed in many different ways -- some are fully covered, likely following religious dictates, some with fashion styles that are just different, and some with more revealing styles than are conventional out on the streets. Not only are the fashions mixed, the conversations she hears are taking place in different languages as well. All in all, quite a mix.

The children are more consistent. They are all doing lots of studying and free-style recess playing, and spend little time in zombie mode.

Nana Zima, the director here, and Janalee's host for this tour, explains, "Aspiration is the important goal here, and we support diversity because we feel that supports aspiration. A child who experiences many ways of doing things is learning to adapt and solve problems in creative ways. They are also learning tolerance, so they can use these skills they learn in many different situations. They can be surprised by their surroundings and still function -- but it is also harder to surprise them.

In addition to the learning you see going on here, we also encourage a lot of travel. We encourage mothers to take their children on vacations to exotic places when the children are young, and encourage them to get their children involved in exchange programs when they get into formal education programs."

Janalee asks, "What happens if the kids start fighting?"

"The mothers break it up. Those that are closest take action. They don't worry about the kid's cultural backgrounds, we are all mothers to all the kids here."

"What if the mother teaches someone else's child their cultural ways?"

"Oh, they do! All the time. The child learns, and learns which cultural ways are their own, and which are different. But, having learned, they then get to pick and choose. That is part of tolerance." She points, "See young Achmed over there?" the child she is pointing at is wearing a turban and a gaudy American-style T-shirt. "We have some mix-and-matching happening, and that's OK. The only time they have to be straight about their fashions is when they are attending church services, and they learn that. They also learn by attending church services other than their own as guests."

Janalee thinks a bit about what she sees and then says, "That's a lot of learning."

"It is. It is part of the maximum aspiring that we offer our children."

She notices a lot more men in the mix than she saw at Hannaford. She asks, "How do you treat men?"

"A good question. We welcome them... as long as they aren't being parasites. We have no interest in 'living in basement types'. The ones you see here are boyfriends. But some are more special than that." she points to the building next door, "Next door to our club is an associate male-oriented baby club, Nottingham North. Many of the men you see here are raising children there."

They walk and talk for a bit longer, then the tour ends and Janalee heads home. Janalee has been favorably impressed by what she has seen.

Choices are made

Janalee is at dinner with Robert again. She has come up with a plan and she presents it to him.

"Robert, I like you, and after the researching I have done, I still like your DNA." Robert grins at that, "And I have come up with a plan.

There is a baby club in town, Nottingham, that supports diversity and achievement. It looks like a good place. Just as important, next to it is a male-oriented baby club, Nottingham North, and the members of the two clubs mix a lot. Check it out."

Janalee waits while Robert goes into zombie mode and does some quick research on Nottingham North. He comes out and nods at her.

"You wanted to be involved with your DNA. I'm thinking you can get seriously involved. I'll make a couple of children, and you can raise your's at Nottingham North. We can mix and match.

What do you think?"

Robert thinks a bit, not too long, then leans over the table and gives her a quick kiss.

"I think this is why I really like being your friend, Janalee. This sounds great."

Epilog

This story is an example of how child raising will be quite different in the 2050's. There will be dramatic technology differences and dramatic social differences. It's not going to be grandma's style of baby making and child raising.

 

 

--The End--

 

 

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