Children Are Great, Except When They’re Not

You have a child. Congratulations! Now you just have to raise it.

You’ve been living in the lap of green luxury with your partner. You spend a minimal amount on food because you’re so good at gardening, farmers’ market shopping and home cooking. You recycle, compost and ride your bike everywhere. Life is good. Simple, affordable and semi-logical. Then one of you brings it up: children.

“It’s a good time to start,” says one of you. “Plus, we’re not getting any younger.”

Children: a perennial favorite. Children are wonderful! In celebration of this, let us ponder on all the reasons they’re not.

20. They might have that one family gene that Uncle Bob has. The one where he thinks he is part alien, part groundhog. Or was a spy. While also being a famous rock star.

19. Someday, somehow, you know that it is your children who will act as the agents of your own death. They’ve already stolen half of your chromosomes. Who knows to what other lengths these tiny genetic replicants will go? You’ll have to watch every move they make. Haven’t you known since your own childhood that all it takes is step on a crack and you’ll break your mother’s back? Children cannot possibly be trusted to maintain your spinal integrity. The world is full of aging sidewalks bulging with rips and tears, and your bone density is low enough as it is.

18. What if they’re all cisgendered? What will you blog about then? 

17. The manifold and shimmering joys of spinsterhood will never be yours.

16. Your daughter is going to have an iPhone by her fifth birthday, and she’s going to use it exclusively for internet bullying.

15. Capitalism, you know, man? Capitalism.

14. American children eat practically every day. Do you have any idea how wasteful that is? Do you even know how many small female-run businesses you could support in Nigeria with that kind of money? Seven. You could support seven, and they would all make the most amazing shoes. Well, not shoes exactly. More like slippers. Incredibly comfortable slippers. But you decided to have children, so instead of reviving their local economy, all of these women got malaria and died, leaving behind 26 motherless children, none of whom have any slippers.

13. There’s an 80% chance that any child born after 2011 is going to end up posting at least four videos of themselves wearing a cat mask to Xtube. I’m sorry, but there it is.

12. What’s your family’s stance on negotiating with terrorists? What if one of your children is kidnapped? Do you pay the kidnappers, or do you write off your losses and focus on the survivors? What’s your absolute price ceiling? Do you adjust for yearly inflation or stick to a flat rate? If one of your children is ransomed, won’t that set a dangerous precedent for his or her younger siblings?

11. They probably don’t even know what Dim Sum is.

10. Your children are going to absolutely hate Radiohead.

9. If you take your baby on a plane with you to visit your family on the East Coast, and your baby cries, and the man in the seat in front of you whips his head around and glowers unpleasantly, you’re going to feel really uncomfortable for the entire six-hour flight. Also, the flight attendant will forget to bring you your ginger ale, but you’ll feel too self-conscious to remind her to bring you one the next time she checks in on your row. You don’t deserve a ginger ale, because you’re a terrible mother who can’t even keep her own baby from crying, you terrible mother of a crying baby.

8. Think of all the juice boxes, granola bar wrappers and other packaged crap they’re going to beg you for. YOU, the queen of recycling and organic eating!

7. Your son is going to have a Flickr account if Yahoo doesn’t kill it first, and it’s going to be absolutely terrible.

6. None of your children will finish graduate school before the age of 35. The only degrees available will be an MBA in gaming apps or a doctorate in dessert photography. All of your offspring will be unemployable. This is also right around when Social Security will give out.

5. Any child born after the Global Banking Act of 2017 must serve three years as an unpaid intern in Bank of America’s deep-sea titanium mines.

4. You’re still going to die, you know.

3. You know that cats suck the air right out of babies’ mouths, don’t you? So you’ll always have to worry about that. Cats are witches, and witches hate babies.

2. What if only one of your children is gluten-intolerant, but you convince all of them that they’re gluten-intolerant because it makes arranging dinner easier? What if then your daughter goes to a birthday party without your supervision and accidentally has a cupcake and realizes that you lied to her and the revelation drives her to madness?

1. You can’t just walk away. Ever.

Image: photologue

Mallory Ortberg

Mallory resides in San Francisco, California. You can catch her weekly Sex By Numbers column.