Rohit's Realm

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August 01, 2007

The Case for Kids

The Economist leads its print edition off this week with both a briefing and an editorial on demography (specifically, population decline), which in addition to bringing back fond memories from high school of Thomas Malthus and his Enlightened1 theories on the poor, also got me thinking about my own future contribution to the replacement rate. Now, as I am a firm believer that discussions about the awful menace we sometimes refer to as our offspring should be restricted solely to expressing our unchecked disdain for, calculating potential tax benefits due to, or lamenting the untimely arrival of said menace (via a missed period, ruptured condom, or other extraordinarily catastrophic event), my decision to bring up the subject might lead invested readers to express some concern since the former two have been done—many times—on the Realm. Fortunately, considering that I am currently on vacation in Orange County and primarily in the company of rather attractive Spectrum-frequenting high school girls, were said catastrophe to have occurred, I would likely be more concerned about an indictment2 than a shotgun wedding.

To wit, though I am not currently aware of any impending catastrophes with respect to either untimely arrivals or pesky issues of legality (that might be because I'm avoiding calls on my cell, though), it is not entirely inappropriate to discuss my contribution to the replacement rate once one realizes that my life plan (to be discussed separately) calls for me to bite the bullet in less than a decade. (Specifically, I want my kids out the door by 55, which requires that the first one arrive in the door by the time I'm 31—32 at the latest.) Now, five years ago had anyone asked me how many kids I wanted to have (abstractly, of course, to avoid hyperventilation and panic attacks), I would have likely responded that three was the magic number; I only had one sibling growing up, and always thought it might have been cool to have two, particularly if I had both a brother and a sister. For me, it was not meant to be—c'est la vie—but I could make it a reality for my own children.

However, many years older, some years wiser, and certainly a hell of a lot closer to a time where I might be wiping asses other than my own, I have to say definitively that three is looking more and more unlikely; nowadays, two is the magic number. Why the sudden change of heart?

Well, in general, I have come to see children as an investment with diminishing returns, certainly financially, but probably also emotionally, mentally, physically, and in any other capacity that people use to delude themselves into reproducing. Sidestepping the (entirely relevant) question of whether it is in anyone's best interest, let alone society's, for me to reproduce (the answer is probably not—no one likes a cynic), the number two works for the following reasons:

  • Two children perfectly replaces the two parents on this planet, and with any luck (i.e., if my wife is smarter/hotter/better than me, as she inevitably will be—it isn't that difficult), the two we leave behind will be better than one (me), if not both, of their parents;
  • One child (i.e., an only child) increases the potential the child will be (1) spoiled, (2) lonely/weird, or (3) fucked up3;
  • Three children add no value over two, because if you can't raise the first two right, what is the chance that the third one will be any better than the first two? Slim-to-none. More likely than not, you'll just have introduced three worthless individuals—rather than two—into society; and
  • Four children... why would anyone have that many kids? Seriously. Talk about a drain on resources—and a courageous woman.

Many of the regulars out there might be surprised that I of all people would choose to have children at all. I mean, if I despise them so much, then why go through the trouble? Critics and naysayers will likely revert to talk about how I am a poseur and a hypocrite, and that I actually like children, citing my volunteer work since high school with elementary school children, but that's all bullshit and lies, and we shall not give credence to their nonsense. Instead, let me tell you the real reasons for my intended procreation:

  1. As previously discussed, marriage, though offering avenues for cost-cutting and efficiency, does not by itself yield any tax benefits; tax-deductible dependents are the only way to extract any value from the institution (and as we know, I need to marry to survive);
  2. Kids inevitably demand the bulk of the parents' attention upon their arrival, thus making the marriage more about providing for and raising successful children (something I can probably handle), and less about feelings, romance, or love (all things which I fail miserably in); and
  3. What's better than having a couple of helpless mini-human beings to project one's own weaknesses and tacit failures upon? I may have never excelled at sports, finished my English minor (two fucking classes away!), accomplished anything in either of my disciplines (P ≠ NP?), or written the next great American novel, but by golly, my children might—if I drive them hard enough.

As you can see, the case for kids is quite strong. And if we all go with two, we can be sure that we won't be dealing with a declining population any time soon. So, what are you waiting for? Let's get out there and raise that 1.86 to a healthier 2.01 (see, e.g., 2000 U.S. Census Data). I plan on starting in a few years... any takers? (And please, be above the age of 18 and capable of carrying a child to term. Thanks.)

1 Note the pun prior to dispensing your usual vitriol.
2 Any rumors notwithstanding, I'm going to follow what Johnny Drama taught me and deny till [I] die.
3 No offense to only children out there.


You can't avoid my calls forever, Rohit! Soon you're going to have to deal with your restroom indiscretions at the Yard House.

Next time remember the golden rule about the Spectrum: card everyone.

I am over the age of 18, and (though unconfirmed) probably capable of carrying a child to term. What do you say, Rohit?

Indiscretions in the Yard House restroom?! Come on now, Rohit, you gotta treat the high school girls better than that. Next time, at least use the backseat of your car. They are probably much more accustomed to it, anyway.

Dude, do you not read Mark Morford OR watch 'Idiocracy'? Clearly, you owe it to society to procreate. And not 2, you big fat baby, 16 or 20 at least.

I find the fact that you have a life-plan utterly hilarious.

Also, God is great, because we can father children at the age of 80. And I full plan on doing so. If you had gone to work on robots like you promised, you could've been working on that gyrating plastic hip I'm going to need in 60 years.

Kelly, what part of deny 'til you die do you not understand?

Julie, as I have mentioned before, who ARE you?

Lisa, I drive a car with virtually no backseat; thus, a Yard House restroom is probably no worse than my car.

Jon, I'm never going to live down the decision not to build robots, am I?

Audrey, that Mark Morford article is truly scary. 16 kids though? That's a lot of money lost in college education.

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