Something about kids

So two of my dearest friends had babies last week. The girl who made a few Happysad appearances as “the nice ex-GF” had twin boys, and a few days later another couple of friends had a boy too. Visiting them both in the hospital left me, well, a bit confused. You see, I actually don’t like kids. Whenever I hear someone talking about their kids (as parents incessantly do, for lack of a social life), I feel relieved I don’t have to put up with all the crying and the whining and with all the sleepless nights and the endless cleaning up of snot, shit, puke, and randomly spewed around foodstuffs. When you’re finally discharged from diaper duty, they turn into these noisy little brats with ADHD, already preparing to become sulky teenagers who will antagonize you in any way they can. And you’re stuck with them 24/7 – it’s not like you can put them back. Moreover, whenever I look at the state of the world today, I’m becoming more and more convinced that the end is nigh, so putting new souls on this doomed planet just feels like it borders on child abuse.

But then again…

I can’t help but think about my goal in life. What’s my purpose of being here? And what will be my legacy? Sure, I have my job, I have produced a few moderately succesful cartoons, I have a house and lots of stuff… But all this seems trivial in the light of eternity. I’m just muddling on from one day to another, aimlessly, without an overarching ambition. There is nothing that transcends myself, that is greater than just me. So that’s why I am starting to understand why people are inclined to put up with the piss and the puke and the snot that come with having children. Maybe kids are the big missing piece in the puzzle. Despite everything.

So does that mean I suddenly want to have kids ASAP? Hell no. But the case is moot anyway, since I’m not going to make any children all by myself, now am I? In stead, here’s an illustration I had the honour to make for the birth announcement card of one of these new kids on the block:

14 thoughts on “Something about kids

  1. haha, the first part is *exactly* how i feel (still, and i’m 40).
    the second part i can follow as well. but: why exactly *needs* there to be “something greater” than you? you already influenced, and gave joy to a lot of other people (all your blog readers for example). i don’t believe life has a special purpose that anyone has to fulfill to be “successful” in it. just enjoying it, taking over some responsibility in society, being creative, and being nice to other people is more than good enough in my view. being a good and loving friend to others is probably what matters the most at the end. and i’m sure you do that already very well. nothing missing there i’d say. just enjoy the trip, and live your dream.

  2. When I was a kid I’d listen to my parents and their friends talk. I learned two big things. The first was that you never want a variable interest rate on your mortgage. The second was that children are hell. They can’t make up for a half hour or more spleen venting about how much their lives suck now with “but then they smile and it’s all worth it” and hope to convince anyone that their life wouldn’t be better without.

    My girlfriend asked me one time if I wasn’t worried about getting to the end of life and not learning what it’s all about. My response was “according to who?” After mulling on it for a few months she had to blog about how that statement changed her thinking. She’s not giving up her religion, but she’s started rethinking how she approaches life.

    What I’m saying is that your life gives it what meaning you give to it. Some people use the church to give their lives meaning. Some people use their jobs (and die a month after retiring). Some people volunteer. Some people have kids. Once upon a time there was no option and you had kids or were celibate. Now it’s a decision, or at least should be.

    Personally, I spend my time doing things that interest me. Stuff I couldn’t do as a kid (or if I had a kid) because I had no money.

    The endless void of eternity is just that. I could only tell you about 2 or 3 relatives from three generations back. One I knew and one I have his old County Commissioner campaign posters (he lost). One nameless woman from five generations back made the bricks in our barn (I’m trying to restore the brick maker). Some unknown in the family came over from Germany a long time back. That was his lasting legacy. He came here. He may have bought the farm land. No idea who he was. Dad bought a quarter of land with 1 acre of woods with a hole in the ground where a homestead once stood. The evidence of their life is that grove of trees.

    Knowing that your name will likely be lost in a few generations you have to ask what else will live on. It’s the stuff you do that touches others that lasts. If you have a kid you make a big impact on one person. If you live your life you can do more to impact lots of others.

    I make medical textbooks for the army. They’ll be read by thousands and thrown away in 10 years. In the meantime I know many war wounded are given treatment based on what’s in those books. There is at least one set of my books in the White House and several in the Pentagon. My job just seems like a job. 7-3 each day in front of a computer. But from time to time I have to remind myself that people are making decisions based on books I’ve helped create. I didn’t write a word of it, but I made it look like a book.

    Your cartoon may be largely over, but you still got people interested in your writing to come to your site day after day to listen to you. You probably couldn’t make the cartoon with a kid around.

    I guess, in the end, you have to ask if you’d enjoy your life with a kid around. Would you still be able to do what you enjoy doing? Would you have to get a job that is less enjoyable to support it?

    But, as you say, that’s a question for when you’ve got someone else to make kids with.

  3. Oh no, your genetic programming is kicking in! Quick! Run away!

    And.. funny illustrations. Maye you should suggest LEGO to do the figures with boobs and bellies? (maybe a beer-belly male as well? ;))

  4. i read ur post…realised i felt the same stuff loads of times…like rocking between two extremes ..”i dont need kids…im happy the way i’m” to “oh my best friend hs a cute daughter…i wonder wat mine wud luk like”….. n i wanted to post a reply to ur comment…

    but then i read Ibid’s post…n it made so much sense…i ws glad i came to ur blog today :)

    its not abt if u will be able to enjoy stuff tht u do now…wen u hv a kid or not…u enjoyed stuff in ur teenage wich u dont now…so basically…wat u enjoy will change over time…n i guess ppl go fr kids so tht they hv someone to shower luv n affection on…i mean…just adopt…im NOT going thru labour pain…it looks so scary…

    so yah…dont just fall for the cute little humans….sponsor a child in africa…n write to him…

  5. @Ibid:

    You are forgetting the compound influence of having kids:

    – you are also your grandfather legacy, in a way; if he decided not to have kids, that line would have stop there, and all the things you and your father did wouldnt have happened.

    By having children, you are creating new possibilities in the future.

    Of course, im not advocating that everyone has to have kids (the falling birthrate IS creating problems AND mitigating others), that is everyones choice.

  6. Hell, I have two kids, well hardly kids, since one is 19 and the other almost 22, and I certainly hope they weren’t my crowing achievement, I believe I have more to offer the world than just part of the next generation.

  7. @Pedro:
    I take the belief that the kids I don’t have will have a greater impact on the future. Each kid I don’t have is one car that won’t be stuck in traffic. It’s one desk left free for another student. It’s one McMansion that won’t be built. It’s a mound of diapers that won’t get disposed of. And, in my case, it’s one old person who can afford to retire instead of living on Social Security and a Walmart greeter job.

  8. You don’t have to wonder if you should have kids to add your part to eternity, you should only start having kids if you want them to be part of your life.

    Adding to that, the snot shit puke part – which was very well summarized by someone who doesn’t have kids, congrats on that – is for me completely wiped away by the smiles, hugs and funny surprises they deliver to you on a daily basis. Just don’t ask me this question on a Monday morning at about 7.45 ;-)

  9. We shouldn’t discuss whether it’s a choice just to “leave something for next generation”… When I look at Poland, at people having kids just because they are catholic and they cannot use contraception, or thinking that “it’s what they have to do” or because the society is saying that “Oh, yes be a couple without kids, and your pension will go from the hard work of mine children and don’t later whine about it’s size”… (and I lost my point)… The choice is simple – you want to have kids, you think that you will have money to support them and you will be happy to bring up them, or you don’t want to change your life, you feel that you are more egoistic and that you won’t have the power to change your habits and diminish your bank account.

    (and yes, I think that money is important and choosing to have sex without contraception and thinking that “the society, the government” will help is just rude. When we buy a car we consider how much the spare parts will cost, or how much fuel it takes, I’m not putting a equals sign between kids and a car but I’m saying about PLANNING.) So you have your house/flat, job, life-partner, and the need for a child – have it. But if not… wait longer ;)

    I saying to you again – your cartoon is read in most of the European countries, look on statistics, not yet a celebrity on the first pages of magazines but you are thought about ;) You won the cartoon awards, I think that you are recognisable in Belgium, wasn’t it your goal ? I know, goals change, like our dreams when they finally come true but being greedy… ;)

  10. ‘New kids on the block’

    Wooha!

    (Geddit? Lego? Block? Lego block? Geddit? Geddit?)

    Anyway, don’t try to rationalise it. Having kids is about love (corny eh? there’s a brown bag under your seat). You’ll never experience love like the one you feel for your kids. Seriously, you’ll even love their snot and puke and stuff.
    One thing though, as someone who waited a long time to become father: the longer you wait, the harder it is to get out of bed in the middle of the night to warm up a bottle.

    Get yourself a younger wife. One that likes to breastfeed. Makes a hell of a difference for your night rest.

  11. I completely agree with Bart: the more you wait, the harder will be to run after the kid and be there for the kiddish/adolescentine issues.

    On the serious tone, everybody can leave something behind. Geniuses or influential people leave something that will live after their death, be it a painting, a photo or a scientifical invention (even a cartoon!)
    The rest of the world can make babies. Or not. But the idea of the baby, in my conception, is not to transmit genes or have a help when you’re old, it’s something… you start feeling. It came with age.
    Yeah, the puke and the noise and the nights in which you don’t sleep are terrible, but the miracle of discovery: uuuuh, tiny fingernails! uuuh, the baby wants to know why the sky is blue! it’s re-discovering the world through the eyes of something similar to you, but different… like a second childhood.

    damn, i sounded more corny than Bart, i hope you still have the brown bag :P

  12. Hi!

    A long time without passing by… but oh my.. I’ve to leave a comment here.

    Please! don’t let my hero falls!!! (jajaja! just a figure of speech).

    Well I agree with all the opinions about having and not having kids. But more with that one that says its matter of choice. Not an obligation nor a must. Why should it be that way?

    I’m a woman on my 30′s and eeeeverybody its bugging me with the stuff of the kids. Even the persons that I thinks they know me (my family for example) And don’t believe that I don’t have thaaat need on me (its like my “mother instict” was removed surgically). Its a bit difficult choice to make here in my country (where everybody “have to” have childrens.. like bunnies, otherwise you’re incomplete).

    Anyway in the search of your own “happysadness” thinks that should be a little “jeroen” go ahead.

    Kisses

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