So this week I’m coming in early every morning so I can leave early on Friday, so we can get to New York before, say, 11pm that night. Which means I get to wake up earlier, so I can sit here and do nothing for an extra half hour every day. It’s all about the symbolism; because it’s obviously not about doing actual work.
Anyway. I’ve been thinking about why people have kids. It seems like the ultimate triumph of optimism over logic, basically. It’s highly unlikely that your kid will be the one to cure cancer, or even the one who sits quietly, minds what you tell her, and behaves well in public; and yet people keep having them anyway.
Then, maybe it’s all about giving up on yourself. You’ve got this far, and it’s about as far as you’re going to get; so it’s time to start over, instilling all your wisdom into a fresh vessel with all its potential untapped and unlimited by age or experience.
And there’s the narcissism argument. You’re so great that the world needs another one of you. Or you just want to see what your features would look like on someone else. Or, slightly more charitable, you want to show your in-laws how the union of yourself and your beloved will produce the most perfect being ever created. Allied to that is the immortality one, of course – that you must leave a part of yourself behind to carry on the legend. Or the ancestral tea service. Shakespeare’s sonnets to the young boy were about that, I believe. (Unless they were about homosexuality, but that’s not the nun-endorsed explanation we were given in school.)
These are all pretty selfish reasons. Apart from the curing cancer one, and while I’m not saying it ain’t going to happen, you have to admit that the odds are against it. So what about the child? You can’t claim that by having it yourself and providing it with love and a good home, you’re saving it from an otherwise lesser upbringing (unless you’re adopting, of course). Those other kids are going to be born to other people whether you have yours or not. Can you say that by having a child you intend to raise to be good and thoughtful and kind, you’ll up the number of good people in the world, tipping the global balance in favour of the righteous? Oh good – but you know, there are no guarantees. Fred West’s mother probably loved him too.
So sometimes I look at the two of us in the car or wherever, and think, “It’s about time we got some small people to inculcate in our ways.” Maybe it’s about world domination, but I don’t want that many. Maybe it’s because it would be fun, but that’s a bit naive.
I’m not saying I’m clucky; I’m not saying I demand to start making a baby before we’re even married, thank you very much. (At least, with less than four months to go, I’d probably still mostly fit my dress, but it still wouldn’t be the ideal scenario.) Babies are cute, I admit, but I’m more drawn to the idea of a small person who would absorb our ways and our phrases, our music and our ridiculousness. That would be nice. And it would give himself a good excuse to watch all those cartoons, too.
It’s only 9am, and that’s all the philosophical thoughts I can manage for one day. What the heck am I going to do for the next seven hours?