Astute readers among you will recall my lengthy description of the process by which a child bullies its parent into buying them something; whether that thing be a bar of chocolate, or a pack of crisps, or some other mass-produced child poisoning product. They might further recall that such situations conclude in one of two manners:
The parent will relent, wearily, and buy whatever the fuck their offspring is pining after. This is the peaceable solution, but this peace comes at an awful price. These people tend to have the fattest children, for some reason; though I haven’t done the study to prove it.
The parent will refuse, and the child will press the red button. I’m talking about that awful thing where the face shrivels up like an old fruit, and a horrible noise issues from the mouth: a sound worse than the combined caterwauling of ten coffee machine low-milk alarms. Like when the Nazis open the Ark of the Covenant at the end of Raiders, both in terms of the noise itself and the effect it has on my head.
There’s a kind of negotiation, here. A negotiation where one party has a nuclear option that they could exercise at any moment. That gives it what you’d call leverage. This little asshole might as well have a loaded revolver pressed against its mother’s womb, just under the counter.
Which brings me, more or less, to the subject of this musing. I’ve already said my bit about one of the guilty parties in this stand-off, (the chocolate companies) but the other (the children) has thus far eluded my ire. Well, that ends now. I hate children. I have no idea why anyone would want to produce one of them. They are prohibitively expensive, both in terms of money and of precious hours of life.
Fortunately, my occupation requires little interaction with the bastarding little rascals, aside from the aforementioned scenario. Though at least in that scenario there’s little chance that anyone will die. Sometimes a parent will allow (or attempt to allow) their progeny to dispense extremely flammable liquid, in many cases when the child has barely the motor function to stand upright, let alone hold a fucking petrol nozzle. That’s crossing a line, I think. What the fuck is next? Are you going go home, hand your eight-year-old a chainsaw and instruct him to chop down the tree with the beehive in it? No! Do not involve me in this scheme. I will not allow you to allow your child to dispense fucking unleaded. I won’t even allow you to phone the ambulance once your child suffers horrible third-degree burns. Mobiles on the forecourt are not allowed.
I think this attempted infanticide is a symptom of a regret which is much more widespread. I can only assume that all of these people who have birthed one of these things have suffered a momentary (though colossal) lapse in judgement. Which is a posh way of saying that they’ve lost their shit.
A few of my friends have contracted this insanity. Inevitably, more of them will do so in coming years. They rarely talk about this sort of thing to me, for some reason – I’d barely know it was happening, were it not for:
- The obvious physical symptoms of a pregnancy.
- Not turning up to the pub.
- Social Networks.
It’s this last one that allows me to keep abreast of developments. Occasionally someone will announce the start of their incubation period; then, forty weeks later, a proto-human will pop up. After this, this new life-form will feature from time to time in future content. And sometimes, it must be said, it’s worthwhile stuff – though, let’s be honest, the bar of what’s worthwhile has been set pretty low. A picture of a kid doing something at least vaguely noteworthy – attempting to weld with a little flame, for example – would qualify.
Many new mothers (and excuse my everyday sexism, but I’ve found it’s mostly mothers; they’re typically the ones stuck in the house watching the kid for reasons too labyrinthine to go into) having found themselves house-bound by their newborn resource-vampire, have a great deal of time to spend on social networks. The result is a mild form cabin fever which in turn results in an avalanche of updates about the state of the child. They provide many updates. I’m talking many times a day. They’ll write about what their kid has had for tea, the enthusiasm of its attempts at playing the ukulele, the colour of its faeces; they will Instagram their offspring’s many biro drawings of giant rings.
If you think I’m describing you, then I probably am. But I’m not singling anyone out; I can think of at least five or six acquaintances of mine that post in this manner on Facebook alone, and so it’s reasonable to conclude that this is an epidemic. I’ve mocked up a few examples to illustrate the sort of thing I’m talking about:
Just lost little Peggy-Sue in the supermarket, she was hiding underneath the frozen peas waiting to jump out. Adorable! #peggysue #peas #lovinglife
Just got back from the hospital, they gave her a warm IV for her hypothermia, but they didn’t have any lollies for her. I AM FUMING! #peggysue #amfuming #fuckthenhs #notlovinglife
Peggy-Sue won’t eat her peas. She says she’s developed a crippling fear of peas after being almost killed by peas. She has cried for hours. I am going to sue Lidl. #peggysue #peas #bravelittlesoldier #fuckyoulidl #otherwiselovinglife
This behaviour is widespread. These people think that there are people out there that actually care about this sort of thing. Well, guess what? They’re fucking right! There are people that care! Lots of people! People, who I can only assume are in a similar situation, and so respond with similar enthusiasm. They write encouraging things like ‘That’s so cute’ or ‘that’s so interesting’ with not a hint of irony. They never pose the question I (and, I suspect, a lot of other people) am considering: ‘WHY?’ Maybe posing that question would contravene good taste, or manners or something. Well, fuck manners: WHY?
Now, parents among you, before you bellow with maternal rage and reach for your shotguns, please understand: I’m not objecting to anything you’re doing, here. I’m not against the idea of procreation. Someone’s got to do it, haven’t they? Otherwise the species would fucking expire. Neither am I against you being enthusiastic about your kid’s well-being; even if I can’t quite share your all-consuming enthusiasm for it. The parents who want their kid to gas up their motorcar would do well to follow your example. I appreciate that, despite your apparently hare-brained decision, you’re not all dribbling lunatics. Please understand that this doesn’t come from malice, but rather genuine incomprehension: what the hell is wrong with you all?
Of course, you might just as easily ask ‘why not?’ I’m the aberration. Organic matter has been replicating itself for quite a while now, and lacking a desire to do so puts me firmly in the minority. Maybe it’s the sort of thing I’ll never get. That’s a scary thought. Scarier still: maybe it does exist but it’s just lying dormant, Manchurian style; maybe it will one day awaken like the ‘KILL’ program in a Cylon sleeper agent. I’ll wake up with an overwhelming desire to breed. Much like now, when I sometimes get a sudden urge to drink, only with far greater long-term ramifications. The thought alone makes me want to bash my head against a wall.
Until next week.
PS. I’m doing NaNoRiMo this year. I’m going to write a children’s book. Yes, I know.