A VERY close relative of Ann and I recently became a father for the first time. His pride, dedication and love for his new son was most evident. Yet he was quickly stripped of any illusions he might have had regarding raising a child – especially as a baby; because when he visited us recently, he summed up his parenting experiences when it came to caring for his young heir with succinct and, you can tell, very relevant words, “they keep you awake. all night long and they stink ”.
A yellowish sight you could say because there are so many joys to be had from your children – so much fulfillment especially when they are growing up. When it comes to babies, however, there is a lot of truth to his weary and somewhat unhappy words. Raising a child can be a time-consuming, energy-consuming, emotionally draining, worrying and financially demanding period of life, and if you have, say, three or four “Children” can last two or three decades.
Babies, of course, are helpless and must be helped and pampered in the simplest tasks; I’m talking about the offspring of us human beings here. Being born and raised on a farm, it has long intrigued me why our young people are born totally helpless, unable to do anything for their own welfare, welfare and rescue, while animals , in general, have a certain independence. and autonomy often within an hour of birth.
A lamb is born, usually without the help of anyone else – although a good breeder will seek to be nearby as often as possible in case the ewe gets into trouble and needs help. The woolly four-legged creature often enters the world to be followed by a sibling (many sheep have twins). The mother, unless she is in some sort of distress, will almost immediately begin to lick her offspring to clean them. Mind you, I’m not suggesting that this should be routine in the NHS maternity wards; despite the financial problems afflicting this important national institution, I am convinced that sufficient funds will always be found to provide soap and hot water.
Within minutes of entering this world, lambs and calves – in fact, a large portion of newborns in the animal kingdom – will take steps to take care of themselves. Quickly, they will stand up on slender legs and seek to suckle their mother’s milk while giving life. After a reasonably short period of time, they will increase their mother’s premium by cutting the grass; after only a few months, both sheep and cows will to some extent leave their offspring to fend for themselves; they are usually capable of it.
As for their “clothes”, they are happy with what they were born into, and they never get out of their “shoes”; therefore not expensive to keep. Compare that with a human baby; While the offspring of most farmed animals, both wild and domesticated, are able to fend for themselves very early in life, most homosapiens cannot largely take care of themselves until after the passage of time. the best part of a quarter of their projected period on that deadly reel.
Then there is the cost, especially nowadays; cribs, carrycots, diapers, special foods, clothes and shoes (which quickly get too small), toys, medicines and much more. As they get older, there are often problems – even trauma – brought on by their schooling, including the grueling and often nerve-racking endeavor known as Parents’ Night where, on occasion, the “apple.” of the “eye” of a mother and father will be damned by weak praise if there is any. There’s also the almost constant free taxi service that transports young people to a plethora of extracurricular activities.
In many cases, there is the adolescence where many boys and girls expect to be able to live their lives by their own rules and standards – but are quite happy to do so under their parents’ roof without contributing to its maintenance; to be fair, in that sense our four sons have always treated Ann and me with generosity, respect and thoughtfulness.
Young people then become adults – at least officially – and go out into the world; well, most do, but a good number, realizing that “there is no place like home”, are reluctant to “steal the nest”. Once they have ‘stolen’, they will sometimes bring to the parents – often aging – their problems whether they are emotional, financial or health.
So, is it worth having kids? Oh yes; Ours can sometimes bring us their problems, but the vast majority bring joy, pleasure and purpose to our lives – with grandchildren of course. The sheep, by ultimately rejecting their offspring, miss out on so many precious things.
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