Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Generation game

I so take for granted my childless status that I've never thought very much about the ways in which my life differs from that of the average parent. It's only occasionally that something said by a harassed mum or bemused dad gives me an insight. For example:

1) I can never be hopelessly embarrassed by my child. I needn't worry about the grunting, shaggy-haired, sloppily-dressed, drunken young lad staggering along the pavement. He's not mine.

2) My child can never be hopelessly embarrassed by me. I can lurch around the house playing air guitar, spouting street slang or wearing bright pink pyjamas without being told to act my age and stop trying to be a teenager.

3) I don't have to keep coughing up money because my child needs tuition fees, a flat deposit, a car, tickets for Lady Gaga, new clothes for an interview or a flight home from Australia.

4) I don't have to worry that my over-suggestible offspring will end up a druggie, an anorexic, an alcoholic, a prostitute, a banker or a confidence trickster.

5) My offspring never has to worry that I'll squander the inheritance, go senile, become bedbound, fill the house with cats, take in a deranged lodger or fill the fridge with rotting food.

6) My child doesn't have to waste precious hanging-out time showing me how to fix the computer/ the iPad/ the mobile/ the lost emails. Or explaining the latest fad for corsets/ super-bling/ silly bandz/ half baldies/ vampires.

7) I don't have to provide ongoing emotional support over my child's traumatic break-up with the love of his/her life and daily threats of suicide.

8) My child doesn't have to provide ongoing emotional support as daddy and mummy go through a bitter and messy divorce with each one blaming the other for causing it.

Of course, in return for these advantages some may think I've missed out on the most wonderful and rewarding experience of my life - having children. Well, what you've never had, you never miss, as they say. And I've never had the teeniest parental urge.

I'm not entirely free of such domestic headaches though. Jenny and I are quite wayward enough to cause each other hopeless embarrassment. Or frantic worries. Or bug-eyed disbelief. But at least I don't have to fly her home from Down Under.

27 comments:

Bijoux said...

The joy they bring you really does outweigh all the other stuff, but like you said, what you don't have, you don't miss.

Nick said...

Bijoux - Oh, you make me feel I should be missing it!

Grannymar said...

I'll lend you Elly for a month if you want to try it out!!

Wisewebwoman said...

Oh we would have an injoke that Daughter still quotes when we would look at the childless couples around us as we were frantically taxi-ing our kids to ballet and piano and drama, etc.:

"Oh god love them. Poor childless creatures. They're consoling themselves with a Mediterranean cruise/Florida condo/new sailboat."

XO
WWW

John Gray said...

we have three dogs....
they take over quit QUITE easily from kids......you worry just as much about them... but at last you can shut them in the kitchen when they get on yer tits!

Secret Agent Woman said...

I actually love that my kids are willing to waster their precious time helping me with my computer!

Sure they are expensive and often difficult, distressing creatures. But oh my God. I can't even imagine not having them. I can honestly say the moment I gave birth to my first, even though it was a long and painful delivery, was one of the most sharply joyful times of my life. And it's been both tough and richly rewarding since. I suspect, though, that I may most cherish them when they are adults.

Nick said...

Grannymar - Oh no, Elly would be far too demanding. I'm sure she's not known as Nurse Hitler for nothing....

www - I've never had a Mediterranean cruise, a Florida condo or a new sailboat. But I have had a lot of wonderful holidays without kids trailing behind me asking yet again for an ice cream.

Nick said...

John - Yes, having read your blog for a while, I can appreciate that your massive menagerie must be just as onerous as a brood of truculent kids!

Agent - Agreed, helping with the computer must come in handy! I guess from the outside you see only the nightmarish aspects of having kids, it's only from the inside that you understand the rewarding side.

Cheerful Monk said...

I wanted just one child and was happy with my choice. She was a real pain when she was a teen but I was never sorry I had her. So far she has decided not to have children (she's about to turn 43 and has a career) but has dogs and cats. They're fine grandbabies as far as I'm concerned. :)

Megan Cahalan said...

Kids are fun if you don't take them too seriously.

A problem I am facing lately is that almost everyone I (used to) know takes their kids WAY too seriously.

Cheerful Monk said...

I agree with Megan. I waited until I was 29 to have my daughter because I wanted to enjoy her thoroughly. We had a lot of fun together, the two of us and the three of us as a family.

Nick said...

Monk - I think a lot of people have dogs and cats as substitute children! And just as demanding, I'm sure. It's probably very sensible to wait a while before having children. As well as enjoying them more, you'll have a wiser approach to parenting.

Megan - I also get the impression kids are taken way too seriously. Their every move is scrutinised for its normality, maturity etc etc. Thus the term "helicopter parents"!

speccy said...

My kids aren't yet teenagers, but I happily embarrass them. Life is chaotic, they may as well get used to it early :)

Also, I may take to using WWW's line...

Nick said...

Speccy - Very sensible attitude. They'll be embarrassed often enough in their life so as you say, they might as well learn to deal with it now.

Rummuser said...

The grass greener on the other side of the fence?

Ursula said...

Nick, so glad your parents took the trouble.

U

Nick said...

Ramana - The grass on this side is green enough for me. The grass on the other side holds no attraction.

Ursula - My parents may have taken the trouble to bring me into the world, but they didn't take much trouble bringing me up. But that's a long long story.

Eryl said...

Glad you are happy to be what you are, Nick.

The most traumatic part of parenthood for me thus far was the five months it took to get pregnant; I thought it was never going to happen. Not counting my chickens yet, though...

Nick said...

Eryl - Five months is not bad, some couples take an awful lot longer than that! Funny how in books and movies pregnancy always happens in a matter of days....

Baino said...

Well hard to say which is better, perhaps just different. My kids are my best friends, keep me young and I have yet to let either embarrass me, it's my job to embarrass them...regularly. Mind you, I'd be a shitload financially richer without them

Nick said...

Baino - Good that you're not embarrassed by your kids. Is that because you're tolerant or because you're strict?

John Gray said...

nick
keepon visiting x

Nick said...

John - Ha, obviously a response to my recent visit to yours. Don't worry, the threatening messages are working....

Liz said...

You're making me wonder why I ever had children. Or a dog.

And then I remember: embarrassing them makes it all worthwhile!

Nick said...

Liz - As I said to Speccy, they might as well get used to being embarrassed early on. It'll happen to them very frequently....

Jay at The Depp Effect said...

What a great post! I am happy to say that I don't recognise too many of your scenarios, though number six is a little too close to home, having asked both of my sons independently to help me figure out my new vector art program!

At least I haven't had to worry about the shaggy haired grunting youth - neither of mine went through that, I'm happy to say.

Seriously, sometimes I wonder how different our lives would have been without children. We'd have been better off financially, I know that, but I am glad we had children. There are great rewards, as well as - let's not mess about here - great suffering! ;)

Nick said...

Jay - This is it, are the great rewards worth the great suffering? Obviously for many people they are. After all, love for anyone can involve both rewards and suffering.