I had an epiphany last week. Well, okay, technically it had been brewing over time (I had not yet reached the level or epiphanous), but the moment was coming to a head, and it finally topped off during a routine visit to a coffee shop last weekend.
On the weekends, I tend to visit the same coffee shop in my neighborhood to do "work." Really, it's just to gawk at people, check Twitter, and get material for a podcast that nobody listens to. Everyone there is so Brooklyn, it hurts. An hour there and my neck is tired from all of that gagging (I'll never have a chicken neck for this reason).
I could very well do all of this work from home, but as George Constanza once said, "If I'm out of the house, I feel like I'm doing something."
So let me paint the picture for you.
I arrive. I grab my coffee and I find a solo seat (because I can't be a hypocrite about proper coffee shop fake office etiquette), and I start to work -- okay mainly just checking Twitter and Reddit but whatever. You do the same, so glass houses.
Being the weekend, it's busy with your typical activist moms and their vegan-fed, low-gluten babies. Lots of yoga pants. Lots of Nike Free hot pink sneakers. The stroller gangs are prevalent, in other words.
From afar, I spot two couples approaching (I have really good asshole radar). They slide up next to me with their 2.5 kids each. A half each because two were babies, four were toddlers. So I guess, yes, six small adults in total. Basically, a nightmare to the single man in his 30s.
Because it couldn't be done at home, one of the dads starts feeding this small human food. But that's not exactly what happened because most of the food intended for a mouth, ended up on my shoe. Yes, I was close. Close enough to be coughed on, which one of the kids pretty much did all up in my grill. I didn't get a flu shot because "of all the toxins" that are in it. I'll keep my germs to me, and your perfect child's germs, to them.
Then one of the girls, an angel (more like the Devil), decided it would be fun to lift the table up, à la Teresa from Real Housewives. Actually, exactly like Teresa from Real Housewives:
Food, of course, goes everywhere. And close enough to me that I have to flinch. It was loud and somewhat of a mini-disaster.
You probably think that I got an apology from any of the four adults, right? It would only be proper and on par with society's rules.
Well, maybe one of those sweet angels apologized to you, Chris...
You mean did I get an apology from Hunter, or Jackson? No.
What about Zoe or the other girl, Logan?
Wait... is Logan a girl's or boy's name?
And it finally struck me. I never want to be responsible for one of these assholes for the next eighteen years.
As Dave Barry said, the Pulitzer-winning humorist, this obsessive parenting thing started with the Baby boomers. It was the first generation to define parenting as a verb. Instead of a parent being a noun, a thing, "I am your father, dammit. Give that back to your sister." Now it is, what I do!! As Barry points out about his parents when he was growing up, "They were like, they had kids, but they figured that everyone else had done that before them. It was not that big a deal."
And he's right. It isn't a big deal. YOU ARE MAKING IT A BIG DEAL.
We've regressed -- sorry. YOU'VE regressed as parents with your all-comsuming worry about medals and gold stickers on notebooks, or my God, we can't have Valentine's Day unless everyone receives a valentine from somebody.
Valentine's Day? When I was in grammar school, and we're talking about the '80s, not everyone received a scribbled piece of construction paper with a heart on it. I specifically remember giving both Lindsay and Shannon (I dated both on and off between 2nd and 5th grade) a valentine. You know who I didn't give one to? Margo and Stephanie. That's how it was. Margo survived. She was in the Nutcracker in 4th grade. THE NUTCRACKER.
Remember when your parents told you to go out and play? Be home before dark? The whole street lights thing? Remember when you actually separated yourself from your kids? If you stopped trying to be a friend to little Taelur (yes, that's a real-life spelling of the more recognizable name, Taylor), and actually parented her, she wouldn't find the need to constantly beg for attention and then when she didn't receive it, tip the damn table over in a public place.
Last month, a University of Toronto study published in the Journal of Marriage and Family, whatever that is, concluded that the amount of time a parent spends with a child has "virtually no relationship to how the child turns out." It showed no correlation between the amount of time spent with a child and their academic achievement, behavioral, or emotional well-being -- especially between the ages of 3-11.
Wait. What? That has to be wrong or something.
No. In fact, one of the authors of the study, sociologist Melissa Milkie said pretty flatly, "I could literally show you 20 charts, and 19 of them would show no relationship between the amount of parents' time and children's outcomes. Nada. Zippo."
Nada. Zippo. Zilch. Zero. Nil. None. Naught. Celsius (0°).
I find no value in having a baby. For what? To clean its diaper for a year then worry about whether my neighbor will force me to go canning for new football uniforms (only to have my kid get concussed). The kid will be embarrassed of me by age ten. Then resent me. Then hate me. Then crash my car. Then graduate from college. Then borrow money from me. Then stick me with the tuition bill. Then move back home with me. Then move out, only to get married (which I have to pay for) and then finally, when I'm old and senile, stick me in some elderly housing facility where I'm neglected?
The average cost of a kid, one kid, is approximately $274,910.00. Add in a couple of keg-party arrests, a pregnancy scare in high school, tweaking their ADHD medication, the stress it causes young parents, a Daytona Beach spring break rave, a Coachella trip.
Sounds fun. But no thanks.
Chris Peak is a freelance writer from Boston. He blogs at Huffington Post, and has contributed to Gawker, GOOD Magazine, Deadspin, and Point Magazine.
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