The Najette syndrome

Dina and Peter's gorgeous French babysitter came to work one day with a ring in her perfectly smooth stomach.

"Looks nice," Dina told her. Anything on Najette's stomach would look nice, but Dina didn't say that.

"Not like when I got my noze pierce," Najette cried, admiring her navel. Dina does a great imitation accent, gesticulating like an impulsive French teenager.

"I sat down in zee chair and the man came to my noze with zee needle," Najette told Dina, "and zee minute he touches my noze I said 'non, non, stop, stop! I don't want it, I don't want it!' And I did not get my noze pierce."

I can still remember the lollipop""as big as the face of the boy licking it""that I coveted on the T in Boston when I was 9 years old. It was a coiled spiral of rainbow-colored candy and the little boy, doubtless aware I was watching him, licked it slowly and with great relish. My face was stiff with envy; I couldn't take my eyes off him. But a few weeks later when I finally saved up enough allowance money and convinced my dad to let me buy a gigantic lollipop, all of a sudden I wasn't sure I wanted one. There were so many delicious treats in the candy store and those coiled pops looked too big and too sweet. I bought some caramel instead.

The Najette Syndrome. There's something you think you really want &

a nose pierce, a lollipop, another baby, a new pair of shoes &

but it's so far from your reach it seems impossible to obtain. Part of the longing comes from how unobtainable the thing is. The fact that you might never have it drives you to want it even more.

But once you have the possibility of the thing you've been desiring &

not the thing itself but the possibility of having it &

doubt sets in and you start wondering if you really want it after all. Najette's nose pierce, my lollipop.

Maybe this explains why my best friend told me last week that she wasn't sure, after all, that she wants to have children. That honestly she doesn't know if she needs to have a child to be happy and that she wants to think it through more and talk about it. S. came to visit us with her New Boyfriend and his yellow lab (who had to sleep in the car because of allergies).

"Why can't Aunty S. come by herself?" my 8-year-old asked peevishly. "And why does she have to bring the dog? I don't like dogs. Is it big? Is it jumpy?"

"And is it going to bite me?" asked my 4-year-old son (whose first word was "woof" but who's been simultaneously fascinated by and terrified of dogs since he was a baby.)

In the time it took to say hello we knew already that we would love them both. The dog was friendly and sniffy but not jumpy. S.'s boyfriend was kind and sweet and decent. "He's so nice!" My 8-year-old cried (she was talking about the boyfriend). "I didn't think I'd like him but I do. And, Mommy, can the dog sleep in my bed? Why can't he come inside? Can I feed him? Can I walk him?"

During 15 minutes we had alone together S. told me that things with the New Boyfriend were going really well, that they were talking about marriage, but that she was not sure &

anymore &

if she wanted to have kids.

"I've never really had the possibility before," she said. "Do I really want children or do I just think I do?"

I imagine being at the birth, holding a minutes-old newborn who looks just like the dearest friend I've ever had, and I feel a pang of loss. But the Najette Syndrome isn't something you regret. We all have the right to change our minds.

Ashland resident , Ph.D. is the mother of three and the award-winning author/editor of three books. Her next book, "The Baby Bonding Book For Dads" (Willow Creek Press), is due out this spring.

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