"On (Not) Having Children"

There are 29,038,494 reasons not to have children. I was reminded of this fact early this morning as I ate oatmeal, drank coffee, and read from The Sun (some articles from which are mentioned in the previous post).

The theme of this month's issue seems to be "The Hospital," or that's what I've so far surmised (the two articles and one poem I got through this morning were all hospital- or doctor-related). The article I read this morning was in fact a short story (possibly true?) from a mother's point of view, about her 1 year-old son's week-or-so-long hospitalization. You really get into her head. It's heartbreaking.

In the same room as the narrator, though separated by a sheet, is another family - this one with a sick three year-old daughter. The narrator mentions that her one-year-old is going through trauma, but at least he doesn't understand it. He doesn't fear going into the treatment room each day because he doesn't know that he's going to get pricked and prodded in there. He doesn't yet have the awareness. But the three year-old does. The three year-old whimpers in pain and frustration, old enough to not have to wail aloud, to suffer in relative silence; to know the frustration of helplessness, and maybe even to sense what her parents are going through as test after test comes back unhelpful.

So that's reason number 747,203 not to have children - taking them to the hospital is a drag. Lying to them about things not hurting is a drag, having to deal with the complex dilemma of trust, when you are complicit in the procedures that your child only knows as pain but you know are in fact medicine, is a drag, sleeping in hospital rooms with the sounds of other families' children whimpering on the other side of the sheet - it's all a drag.

I don't know this from experience, and... I don't want to? Maybe I can have kids and guarantee that they will be 100% healthy, right? Never have to go to the hospital? I hope, I guess, that those having kids, like those buying pets, ideally know that medical issues are going to have to happen at some point and factor that into the "cost" (with pets, the cost is mostly monetary). So I'm thinking that if, at some point, I'm ready to reproduce, I'll make a cost-benefit decision and the benefits will outweigh the cost.

But what about the other millions of reasons not to have kids? Like, the fact that it's likely all of my bad habits and idiosyncrasies and weird issues and stuff will be passed on to them? Like, what if I'm poor and they have a bad childhood because they don't get enough stuff, or what if I'm rich and they have a bad childhood because they have too much stuff, or what if I'm middle-class and they have a bad childhood because their lives are too average?

Today is Friday, October 30th; children from the Jose Marti Child Development Center downstairs came through our office trick-or-treating. And they're the cutest little things in the universe. There are no words to describe how cute these little Captain Americas, faeries, Spider-men, skeletons, Care Bears, Teletubbies, monkeys, Ninja Turtles, and princesses are. I want one. I want a little kid just so I can dress it up every year!

Maybe next I'll do a post about the 29,038,495 reasons to have children?

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