Like Sh*t to a Blanket

November 8, 2009 at 1:37 pm | Posted in Article | 4 Comments
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FauxBaby

I staged this faux memory to appease my parents. Though the baby wasn’t ours, they hung the photo over their mantlepiece anyway.

Assuming you have a choice, how do you decide whether to have a child? Though lacking experience, I have some observations which may be useful.

Population

Thomas Malthus was on the money when he wrote: ‘the betterment of mankind is impossible without stern limits on reproduction’.

The earth is a finite resource which is rapidly being exhausted. More people means more damage, especially when only one in ten thousand births produces someone who gives a sh*t.

The economic goal of sustained annual growth is the philosophy of the cancer cell. Since there are already way too many consumers on the planet, we arguably have a duty not to replace ourselves.

The Chinese ‘One Child Policy’ has prevented countless births, though not always through contraception. Achievement of the common good by personal trauma is no substitute for education and choice. The West would truly be won if we could only manage to put equal emphasis on both.

Fear

Those who maintain the world is too dangerous to bring a child into are correct. Not because it is, but because parental phobias transfer to their offspring – rendering them unfit for any environment requiring tolerance and flexibility.

Selfishness

People who say they’re too selfish to raise a child are also correct. And honest.

Innate Drive

I have no right to address those who feel a biological urge to reproduce. It exists. My only advice is that you examine your motive to ensure it is truly innate, since social factors play a major role in this area.

Parents and grandparents can bring enormous pressure to bear, especially if they’re bored, lonely, mired in tradition, dissatisfied with their achievements or obsessed with immortality (see below).

Religious dictates similarly skew the stats and should be ignored at all costs.

Stress

Next door’s baby is possessed. It projectile vomits, manifests nine personalities, howls through the night and makes its father query his sanity. I see him sometimes when I’m giving the hydrangeas a sprinkle before the sun gets on them. Nerves so shot he begs one of my Styvies rather than attempt a rollie.

While I grant that human resilience may partly be due to the drop-forge nature of child rearing, the conjugal screaming matches that rattle my porcelain ducks cannot be uncommon. One in two Australian marriages fails (and that’s just by legal definition). How many breakups are due to the corrosive demands of progeny?

Couples who imagine a baby will enhance their relationship should be required by law to watch five episodes (any five) of The Bold and The Beautiful before proceeding.

Sh*t

This is a cliched but, by golly, powerful argument for the negative. I did mobile discos for ten years, drove taxis for two, worked factories for seven and have clubbed for three. Not in any of these arenas have I encountered anything so hideous as baby sh*t. It sticks like Napalm, permeates like creosote and regenerates like a hydra.

How anyone could commit to a world featuring this element is beyond me. Surely the priceless idiom: ‘it stuck like sh*t to a blanket’ must stem from infant excrement? Unless I’m moving in the wrong circles…

Speech

Some say hearing a baby’s first words is one of life’s finest moments. Indeed, the rhythm guitarist from ‘Fluffy’s Chain’ rates this over the high of our first gig. Of course, if the first words are: ‘f*ck off’, this takes the shine off things. You should therefore consider the environment in which you will raise your child.

Play

This is where kids clean up. First, because they make you feel inventive. Second, because they then leave you for dead in terms of inventiveness.

When a friend brought over her seven-year-old daughter, it was with some satisfaction that I produced a vial of ‘Slime with Maggots’ (oh, to be at the pitching meeting for that one…). The child watched me exhaust my permutations for the toy, then swiftly tripled them. Several I have been too afraid to attempt since.

When the nine-year-old son of my Age of Empires rival visits, it’s open slather in the alternate universe of Lego. How I wish I had the courage to tip my bricks nightly in front of ‘Wheel of Fortune’. It’s such fun! But you can’t unless there’s a kid around, or you’ve dropped acid. And then those little people with their crazy hook hands and superior smiles can really freak you out. The same goes for the Fuzzy Felt ‘Carnival Fun’ Edition. What a bugger those demonic merry-go-round horses are so pivotal to every tableau. Only children have the imagination to work around them.

At Christmas, the potency of the play phenomenon is increased ten fold and even my flinty heart softens at tykes going bananas in pyjamas.

Immortality

All our cells die except those which go on to create new people. By having a child we cheat death – literally ‘living through our kids’. Whether you have your mother’s lips, your father’s palms or your nanna’s sense of adventure, you are a part of them that has not expired. And on rare, unsettling occasions, you can feel their blood coursing through you as they view life through your eyes.

That’s got to be some trip.


If you’re having fun yet, you may wish to

Whatever the sum, I’ll be jolly grateful.


 

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4 Comments »

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  1. Wonderful analysis Paul. Childless myself, I’ve queried my motives (pro and con) in each of these categories, though not nearly so transparently. Thanks!

    • Thank you, Adam. It’s so nice to receive a bit of resonance. It’s good of you to stop by and speak your mind. Best regards, P. 🙂

  2. I can clearly see that I am late to this party but your insight into the matter of whether or not to have children is amazing. Many of these things I have thought myself, many I have not.

    Of all your ideas here, I probably most clearly identify with the ideas of innate drive, religious dictates, and selfishness.

    In regards to the innate drive to procreate, neither my wife or I have it, nor do we understand those that do. The desire to replicate ourselves simply isn’t within us.

    The religious dictate to have children is one that I fight most often. Being a man who believes in Jesus and what he accomplished on the cross, I feel that religious commands must be followed. That being said, the command to multiply, in my understanding, started with Adam and ended with Noah. There is no command after that which states that we must procreate. Those who quote it, saying that it still applies today, are missing basic skills in hermeneutics (Study of interpretation, in this case applied to the Bible’s Old Testament). It is not a command for Christians and one could even argue that it doesn’t even apply to Jews as it was decreed long before Abraham.

    And on being selfish, That may be my case, it may not be. As I previously stated, I have no innate drive to have children. I simply don’t feel the need to bring another child into this world to help consume California’s diminishing water supply. I don’t think a child that comes from my lineage would be any more likely to benefit this world than someone else’s kid. I guess more than selfishness, I feel that I would be a sub-par parent. I don’t think I would be able to raise a child to the standards that I would set for myself and to that extent, what reason is there to set myself up for failure?

    To have a child is a decision that you will have to live with for the rest of your life. You aren’t simply done when they hit 18 or they move out of your house. They will be your child forever. And that is a responsibility that I don’t feel man enough to handle.

    So my wife and I leave the world with a few less children in it. Beside our immediate families, does anyone care? No. But, I guaranty that if my wife and I staged a faux memory like you did, my parents would also put it on their mantle. And that just seems strange to my mind. Why would they want a grandchild so badly that they would be happy with what they know to be an impostor? I simply can’t comprehend this.

    • Wow, Tim. What a wonderfully frank, detailed and considered response! You can rock up to my blog posts any time you want with this sort of feedback!

      It’s comments like yours that take my original posts far beyond what they could ever achieve on their own. I’m not a religious chap, but I’m mighty grateful you took the time to lay out your thoughts so beautifully.

      With best regards and deep thanks for your generous input. P. 🙂


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