a guide for anyone thinking of having them:
- Children are rational. Children are nuts.
Don’t try to reason with them.
- Children are dumb.
Children are very clever.
Because they still ask questions that we adults have given up asking.
- Children want you to be their friend.
They don’t. They want you to be their parent.
- Children take any notice of what you say.
They don’t. They only take notice of what you do.
- Children’s greatest fear is that you will die.
It isn’t. Their greatest fear is that they are not good enough to be loved.
- The most beautiful thing in the world is a newborn baby.
Most newborn babies are quite ugly. Especially when they still have that ick all over them.
And it doesn’t get a lot better when it’s wiped off.
- Childbirth is a beautiful experience.
Childbirth is like medieval torture with, for men, guilt attached. But the gas and air is good.
- Children want you to spend lots of money on them.
Children want you to spend lots of time with them.
- Children respond to criticism and punishment.
They don’t. It just makes them hate you.
- Your children think that you are cool.
They don’t. They think you are lame. Tender contempt is the most you can hope for.
- You are responsible for how your children turn out.
You aren’t. Children create themselves far more than the world creates them. That’s why your children are so different from each other.
- You lose your children when they grow up. You don’t.
They just get more expensive.
- Children are born naturally good and the world corrupts them.
Children are a mixture of good and bad, like their parents.
- Little girls are made of sugar and spice and all things nice, and boys are made of slugs and snails and puppy dogs’ tails.
It is usually the other way round. Go and stand in a girls’ playground for 20 minutes. Torquemada could only envy that level of psychological brutality. Boys just hit each other. Then they forget about it.
- Your children are unusually special, talented and beautiful. Statistically, this is very unlikely. Most children, by definition, are pretty average. Mine, as it happens, are an exception.
- Children become difficult, rude, unpleasant, selfish and tormented as soon as they reach the age of 13 and therefore can be designated teenagers.
Children can be difficult, rude, unpleasant, tormented and selfish long before that.
- Having children is a reason to feel intensely proud.
Pretty much anyone can do it actually. It’s particularly easy for men.
- By bringing up your children, feeding them, housing them, spending all your money on them, loving them and protecting them, they owe you some sort of debt.
They don’t. Well, they think they don’t anyway.
Which amounts to much the same thing.
- Children today spend far too much time on screens.
This is actually great. It means you don’t have to play Monopoly or do jigsaws with them.
- It’s lovely going on holiday with your children.
It very much depends on how much childcare you can afford.