Disclaimer: I haven’t read Bryan Caplan’s Selfish Reasons to Have More Kids. I’m sure it’s fantastic. But there’s no way I would buy it, because I really think it would be a bad idea to read about reasons to have more kids. Frankly I’m pretty sure I already have one kid extra.
On the other hand, I like this vision of the world–in which not sleeping through a single night for over 8 years; spending all my money on childcare (which isn’t even full-time childcare) and soccer (which in the early years consisted of a minute of play followed by a request for a snack) and high fructose corn syrup food items, which somehow keep ending up my shopping cart despite my constant avowal that I would never allow such disgusting things in my house; feeding, bathing, and comforting my kids (even when I sure as hell need to be fed, bathed, and comforted); and practically throwing away a doctorate it took me 9 years to get–is somehow “selfish.” “Selfless” is so passé. That whole 19th-century “angel in the house” type? The “self-less” type? No one wants to be her! I don’t want to be her! I’m going with selfish.
And so, inspired by Caplan’s book that I will never ever read, I came up with 3 selfish reasons I have kids.
1. I am a not-so-neat person, but with kids, I can hide this defect.
Imagine I got up this morning, and I made my bed–hospital corners and all. But within minutes, Baby MoFo wanted to show me his song and dance:
Then Cool J came along. And somehow The Scientist got in there, too:
My bed never stood a chance. So, whether I had made my bed or hadn’t–would you know the difference? Exactly.
2. They’re balls of entertainment and love. Around 5:30am, I woke up to Baby MoFo screaming his head off beside me in my bed (I know how much each part of this sentence sounds like it should go on the other side of the divide, but read on). He was in the throes of a nightmare about Cool J: “J . . . is eating a lightsaber [lifesaver]! He’s eating the whole thing up! He isn’t sharing! I angry!!! I angry!!!!” The Scientist and I, roused (again) from our (oft-disturbed) sleep, burst into laughter. Baby MoFo then rolled over, wrapped his arms around me and murmured, “Mama, I love you. I kiss you.” He planted a series of kisses on my face and promptly fell back asleep. There are other ways to wake up–breakfast in bed, a few yoga poses, the sound of chirping birds–but laughter and love seem pretty good, too.
3. On a bad day, an academic (who is perpetually seeking that tenure-track job — that shimmering oasis in the sand) might receive a number of letters that look something like this:
Thank you so much for your application to Buttfuck University, where, if hired, you would teach hundreds of students every semester, be expected to serve on numerous committees, and be evaluated only on the publications you clearly would never have time to write. You would also be paid less than the secretary writing this email. While your application was quite strong, so were many of the 785 other applications, and unfortunately, we’re not going to read any of them because we’ve been planning to hire an internal candidate all along. This is, of course, a vast improvement from last year, when you also applied for our listing; we brought out applicants from all over the world for interviews (one of them came all the way from Australia for less than 48 hours — and another abandoned a wife in labor!), put each of them through the ringer for several days, and then canceled the job search altogether. That was a hoot!
Many thanks, Applicant. And please do accept our apology for cc’ing the other 785 applicants in the earlier email. Your privacy is important to us.
Many thanks, BU
On an awesome day, an academic might receive a letter that looks something like this:
Thank you for your submission “A Feminist Reading of a 19th-Century Filipina American author that 6 people have heard of–maybe.” We have received the readers’ reports, and we invite you to revise and resubmit your article based on their 20+ pages of recommendations that basically undermine your argument, force you to read all their publications, and should take you about a year to complete. Congratulations!
Best, The Editor
If you ever want to have your confidence in your intelligence and self-worth decimated, please become an academic.
But, if you then want to have it restored, become a parent!
Here is Baby MoFo playing on the stairs:
A minute later, he bursts into tears: “My feet hurt!”
I say, “Why don’t you take the cones off your feet?”
“Try it–I bet they won’t hurt anymore.”
He tries. Big smile again. “Mama!! They don’t hurt anymore!! Mama!! How you knew?”
You see–in my field, I’m a moron. But in my house, I’m a genius.
Well, Bryan Caplan, it’s possible you’ve covered all these reasons and many more in your book, and I’m sorry that I’ll never so much as peek at the Amazon reviews, but I am grateful to you for helping me appreciate my boys and my life.
Love, Poor Princess