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Facebook babies

August 23, 2012

I’m a young age, just turned 22. And of course, I have a Facebook, for reasons covered in a previous post. I do, of course, get a lot of friend requests from old school chums, despite hating every one of them. Well, not hate. Just returning the favour really. How does it feel to be ostracized, HUH? NOW YOU KNOW TOO.

I keep my Facebook friends to a minimum so I can keep track of them, but that only makes it stand out more when a ghost from the past rolls up. And wouldn’t you know it; they’ll be married, with a kid on the way. Or engaged, with four already born.

What in God’s name happened? I knew Britain had a high teenage pregnancy rate but I feel like they would have to have been perpetually pregnant since the age of 12 to squeeze out as many as they’re managing. I maybe exceptionally unobservant but I was at school with these people and none of them looked like they were packing a beach ball permanently down the front of their jumpers.

Weirder still, they are managing. Their children seem reasonably happy and well cared for, as much as Facebook can give you an impression of these things. I don’t know how people do it – I still have trouble enough dressing myself sometimes, I’d be buggered if I had to dress a whole brood within the space of an hour in the morning.

But, why do we keep having them? It’s not a contraception thing. They all know about that, they’ve been using it for water fights and boring discussions about  pills and their various side effects. No, a lot of these kids are planned… Or at the very least, not actively planned against. So these are wanted pregnancies, somehow, these three children before the age of 25.

It just defies logic. I couldn’t imagine saying to a girlfriend: “This is a great thing we’ve got going here. Why don’t we stretch our resources and really test the depths of a love by coming together and multiplying in our one-bedroom studio flat!”

I have no girlfriend, but if I did, I’d like to think she’d be the kind of lady who’d slap me upside the head for that statement to help me regain my senses. I’m of the opinion that no one, and I mean no one (even if you are a talented, beautiful, charismatic actress…) should have more than two children. The world just can’t keep sustaining the increase in population. I know, we all want to avoid the dreaded Only Child Syndrome, so keep it at two and things will stabalise – or go down, where infertility is a factor. Perhaps Welcome to the Monkey House is preying on my mind.

I do have a bias. Strangely though, my decision on this is not affected by the knowledge that I am, in fact, the third and youngest child. My bias is that it is easy for me to tout, politically, that no one should have more than two kids, the reason being that I cannot have any of my own children. I am not sad about this, at least at the moment; I have never been the type to insist that “blood is thicker than water”… I mean, so is custard. What are we trying to say, here – the only people allowed to have kids are Mr and Mrs Bird?

I wouldn’t mind kids some day, but adoption would suit me fine, even with all the hoops needing to be jumped through to do so. It seems fair, to me really, to check aptitude for parenthood, even if the tickboxes are a little arbitrary. Too bad we can’t do the same for biological parents (cue mental image of a social worker turning over an “F” grade to the potential parents, adorned with a picture of a pair of scissors).

I do understand the practical and ethical implications of legislation impeding  on people’s right to have kids, therefore I have only a vague sense of social conscience on duty to hold onto if I hope to see a population decrease. Either that, or for some kind of mystical cloud of mysterious gas to descend on the world and make people stop getting so paranoid death, and by default not as insistent on continuing their legacy.

I guess it’s this mode of thinking that worries me, not the babies themselves – it’s not showing any sign of disappearing, after all.  It’s too easy for me to plan, too easy to be distanced; sometimes its hard for me to understand why others have such trouble. I open my eyes, and I look at the world, and I see crowding and poor living conditions. I see a job shortage, and a money shortage. I see people trying to find things to fill their life with. One of those things is pregnancy.

But if you really want things to get better, hold off. Quality of living only stands to decrease at this rate. It really is a question of quality over quantity: one kid when you’re good and ready is a lot better than four before you’d even learned to attach nappy.

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