Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Generation why?

Now, growing up I became slowly aware that other people's lives were not the same as mine. Some friends were Jewish, some had learning difficulties and birthmarks. Some friends had only one parent, or three or four, or none. Some friends' parents were no different from the older boys and girls I saw on street corners, to me anyway. And some friends' parents looked like my Nana and Grandad. Now, you can be the most 'normal', average, middle of the road person, dress unassumingly, and fly generally under the radar, and other kids you meet along the way will still find something about you that they can make fun of.

At some point in your life, you must have met someone with a really funny name you know, the kind you can't make up, and wonder what their parents were on when they decided to name their child Michael Hunt, then calling him Mike for short. And at some point you may even have been there before it was too late, and sounded a name out loud for a couple so they could hear just what their child would have to be called for the rest of their lives. (Yes, Megan Bacon, think about it for a second).

Why then, do some parents, very few I must add, but who have been in the media spotlight of late, not even seem to consider for one moment the kind of flack their precious little angel will get when they drop them off at the first day of secondary school, when little Jamie or Stephanie is 11, and they are in their early 70s? 'Is that your gran?'. Yes, it is selfish.

Now I'm all for selfishness. You come into this world as you leave it: alone. So looking out for number one must factor in somewhere. But when it comes to bringing children into the world, you've got to put your own needs aside and think about someone else completely. This is my argument in the ongoing debate over teen pregnancy. Think of the children! Obviously accidents happen, and you make the best decision at the time as to whether or not you can give that child everything it will need: food, shelter, warmth, love, security, emotional stability.

But surely menopause should be the one deciding factor, God, the universe or whatever you want to call it, telling you to stop, to let your body rest. Goodness knows women go through enough with their bodies, even if they never have kids. A few years of emotional turmoil for maybe another 50 years of even calm, not a bad trade off I'd say.

I am NOT saying that couples who are for whatever reason unable to conceive are supposed to take it as some sign that they don't deserve kids or something. If I was in that situation, chances are I'd go for the IVF. But when you've had your chance, and your body is doing the same thing all women's bodies do at a certain age, shutting down reproduction, surely to goodness you should take that into consideration. Evolution has made us so that we cannot reproduce our entire lives. Hell, despite social changes the optimum age biologically for a woman to have a baby is about 15. Why then do certain women feel the need to bring another person into the world only after the stakes have been raised so much higher?

If I became pregnant tomorrow I would feel ashamed for letting it happen before the best time, when I have enough money, a secure job, a long-term partner. But I understand also that people do the best in such situations, and happy children are made. Once a child is here, give it all the love in the world, lavish upon it everything you've got that it could possibly want. But if your body is no longer even capable of making a child naturally, and you're only 20 years if that away from natural death, why in the world would you think, hmmm, you know what I need, a baby of my own?!

When it comes to children I say hang selfishness. If you can't have them, try harder, get IVF, get a surrogate or adopt. If the universe or society won't let you do those things, volunteer at a nursery, become a teacher's assistant, be a babysitter. Buy a flipping budgie for goodness' sake. But please, don't bring a child into this world for the sole purpose that 'you need it'. It is the worst thing to impose upon a newborn baby. And for all our sake, in this densely populated worls that is slowly but surely being sucked dry of resources, don't turn around at the age of 59 and say 'I think I'd like to have another one, please'.