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Don't have kids - they're bad for you

Published:Wednesday | February 12, 2014 | 12:00 AM
Keiran King

Keiran King,  Columnist

Valentine’s Day is here. That means no matter how your Friday begins, if you
have a partner, you know how it's going to end.

There’s nothing wrong with fooling around. Armed with condoms, diaphragm,
aspirin, Plan B, coconut oil, iTunes, blood tests, two passport pictures and a therapist,
it can be downright enjoyable. But performed as nature intended, sex is the ultimate
biological credit card - you splurge for seven minutes, pay nothing for nine months,
and then get hit with the mother of all fees for the next 20 years.

Those of you in calcified relationships, or conversely in the throes of infatuation,
feel free to tune out. This is really for the pudgy middle of the Bell curve - you
know, regular people.

You’re not in the shape, job or house you want. You’re drifting and mildly
depressed. You’d be in an early midlife crisis, if you only acknowledged it
was the early middle of your life. And in the pit of your stomach, you know you
have to do something about it. Soon.

Don’t have children.

On the adorable face of it, a kid seems like the perfect solution. Instead of putting
in the hard work of becoming unique or facing the bleak reality of dead dreams,
just use Mother Nature’s Instant Life Purpose (recipe: one egg, one teaspoon
semen, bake hot). In a few strokes, you'll banish those pesky existential questions
forever, since everyone assumes parents are doing the best they can, under the circumcisions.
Sorry, circumstances.

Except for one detail - it doesn’t work. In the most comprehensive study on
the subject, just published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences,
tabulating an astonishing one million people around the world over six years, researchers
from Princeton and Stony Brook University confirmed that having kids doesn’t
make you happier. In fact, in the Caribbean, regardless of age, “those with
children … have lower life evaluation”, experiencing the same happiness
and enjoyment as the childless, but higher levels of “worry, stress and anger”.
Yet roughly three in four of us, they found, keep spitting them out.

Opposition Senator Ruel Reid wants to limit us by law to two children each, akin
to China - disturbingly draconian, comically unenforceable and ultimately unnecessary.

Because there aren’t any solid reasons to procreate, and haven’t been
since the Bronze Age, when we took extinction pretty much off the table.

Yes, the clock is ticking. Precious, irretrievable time is slipping away not just
for childbearing, but everything on your bucket list. Learning Spanish. Living in
New York. Walking the Great Wall. Having a threesome. Playing the piano. Buying
that Audi. You’re way behind, and at current costs, that rugrat will set you
back a further J$17 million by the time it graduates high school. You’re not
Michelle Obama; you can’t have it all. Choose.

No, it won’t save your relationship. You’ll get a grace period of hot
pregnancy sex, and a few years of shared wonder at having created a hairless pygmy.
Look, it gurgles when we feed and poke it! It must love us! But it’s a phallic
fallacy. After the novelty and upholstery have worn, you’ll still be the same
two incompatible people, only with less energy, time and patience than before. And
adding an underage referee to your fights is a criminally bad move.

Yes, your parents want to be grandparents, and your four-bedroom friends look fulfilled.
It’s a trap. Existing parents are like the living dead in zombie movies -already
bitten, they try to swell their ranks, sending you everything from brightly coloured
novelty vibrators on your anniversary to their own deranged offspring on the weekends.
Don’t fall for it. They’re trying to feel better about buying bigger clothes
for themselves along with the children. Stay in shape and become their favourite
aunt and uncle. You’ll get 80 per cent of the affection for 20 per cent of
the affliction.

If you still decide to extinguish your dreams, torpedo your marriage, and forgo
being sophisticated, there is a last resort. Wait a few years and call me to babysit.
I love other people’s kids. They’re immature, unvarnished and addicted
to Lego. We’ll get along great.

Keiran is a playwright and actor. His column appears every Wednesday.

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