Sunday, 3 May 2009

Who'd have 'em?

Kids. They're no fun after all. And having children doesn't make you happy. In fact, the reverse is true if this article in The Times is to be believed. Having spent a long week mopping up sick then dealing with horrendous nappies (I honestly preferred the vomit!) I can understand why - sometimes - people think that having kids might not be all that it's cracked up to be. They're hard work, however many you have, whatever age or sex. And the worry never stops. There's no point being sentimental about it. Pooey nappies are unpleasant. But are children really more trouble than they're worth?
Without going all Darwinian on the subject, aren't they our reason for existing? Isn't the single most important thing we do in life securing the future of the species by passing on the baton to another generation? And if you're not religiously inclined, then kids 'ensure our immortality' as someone once said. A little bit of us survives forever in our children, in their children, and their children's children. But there's more to it than that. Much more. Almost everyone says that Charlie looks like me. It's true the poor chap seems to have been cursed that way. There are pictures of me at his age that you could easily pass off as being of him, and vice-versa. And as I watch him play just like I did at his age, I'm sometimes struck with an overwhelming feeling that I'm seeing myself as a child. It's probably the nearest I'm going to get to time-travel. Children are the past as well as the future.
As for the present, watching Charlie growing up bit by bit each day is one of the best things that I've ever done. It's a rare privilege seeing someone slowly learning what the world is, what his body does, what words are for and how a smile can stop a whole room. It's like being able to watch a flower opening. It's real magic, and there can't be many more rewarding experiences on offer. Children are hard work, for sure. But the best kind of hard work is also the most rewarding. The sleepless nights don't last forever. And, for the record - Charlie's nappies are now back to normal!
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