by Ashleigh VanHouten
The decision to have kids or not is probably the most important in most individual lives. That individual decision, however, is certainly not the most important in our collective life. So why does it rule us? Why has it such an unrepresentative, disproportionate effect on us all. We are ruled by this reverence to pregnancy, new born babies, toddlers, preteens, early teens, teens, adolescents, and so on. Of course we must look to the most vulnerable, and give them due respect, care and attention, but surely adults, individually and collectively, are the most important and productive members of society. We’re not animals after all.
You know how it feels to have an annoying song stuck in your head? Or even worse, an irritating commercial – you know, the one about the new Timothée Chalamet movie that makes you want to gouge your eyes out and go buy a copy at the same time? It seems that more often than not, those insidious bits of marketing propaganda have one target and one target only: young people. Unfortunately, the rest of us are caught in the crossfire.
Most people want to have kids; I accept this fact but don’t truly understand it. Think about the pressure: it’s ultimately up to you whether your child becomes the next President of the United States (great) the next Dylann Roof (not so great) or the next TikTok star (even worse). Anyway, because we live in this proud, free country, you can exercise your right to procreate, just like I can exercise the right to smoke, get really fat, or tie up my consensual partner in a closet dungeon on long weekends (just sayin’).
The difference is, most of the personal decisions we make in our lives have no bearing on anyone else; you don’t have to hear about my eccentric sexcapades or watch me eat an entire bucket of KFC in one sitting. So why then must I be subjected to endless commercials about the wonders of potty time? Why must I endure your whining children in a five star restaurant? Why must I accept those “what’s wrong with you” looks when I tell someone that the idea of having children is about as exciting as the idea of a daily, 18-year long colonic regimen?
Our society places a disproportionate emphasis on our youth. Sure, they are the decision makers of tomorrow and sure, their impressionable minds need to be nurtured and filled with love and knowledge. But what about the decision makers of today? What about the vast majority of adults who still have potential, lives to live, goals to fulfill? It seems that as soon as we are old enough to accomplish something in our lives, we’re told to have kids and sacrifice that precious time to the next generation – who turn around and do the exact same thing. So who’s actually getting stuff done around here? If I added up the time I spend each year forced to listen to Jonas Brothers’ songs and watching Marvel trailers, I could have finished writing my first best-selling novel by now!
The amount of time I spend every day being bombarded by “kid stuff” is mindboggling: commercials, ads, loud little urchins running into my kneecaps on the street – the list goes on. I absorb so much kid-related information a day, sometimes I feel like I have one of my own, and that, my friends, does not make me happy. Why are fashion trends determined by 17-year old celebrities? Why do I have to sift through 50 different sugary cereals to get to my Cheerios? (Ok, I’ll admit Froot Loops are pretty awesome, but still) Why are there interactive video games for toddlers, and why, oh why am I even aware of it? Stop the madness!
Parents, out of sheer stupidity, have become part of the problem; they don’t realize that this is just another way companies rope us in, make us suckers and slaves to our culture of overconsumption. They don’t even have to market intelligently; they just hit you where it hurts most – the ovaries. With bright colors, cartoon animals and sparkly music, they convince you that you’re a bad parent if you don’t buy, buy, buy, and buy some more. And you buy it, alright. Wise old grandparents will tell you there’s no manual for being a parent – but you will still spend $50 at Barnes and Noble on just such a thing.
I’m not saying that kids shouldn’t get attention and toys and movies just for them – I’m just saying we should take a long hard look at what all of this stuff really is and what its use is, if it has one. I’d say 90% of children’s products today are superfluous and unnecessary. Remember when we were kids and we played outside in the sunshine and mud? We didn’t have Calming Vibes Hedgehog and we got along just fine. I’m pretty sure (and I know this from experience) that the only adult sanctuary left is the strip club. I guess it could be worse.
Let’s get back to basics: animals exist to procreate. At one time, as primitive animals ourselves, we did too. But with the wonderful gift of bigger brains, we have come up with other reasons to exist: to create beautiful art, to help others, to make the world a better place to live in. We don’t need to create copies of ourselves to feel like we were useful on this earth; unfortunately, that’s not what most of society – not to mention your in-laws – want you to believe.
I’m sure there are a lot of “breeders” reading this right now who are positively fuming at my callous and selfish commentary – as proud parents, you probably think it’s justified that the world revolves around children. Having a child is a joy like no other, you say. It’s the most important thing you can do with your life. There’s something wrong with you if you don’t want kids!
How about this: let’s you and I call a truce. I won’t call you crazy for buying your eight-year-old an iPhone, and you won’t call me evil for kindly suggesting you keep your spawn on a leash. You and I and all the kiddies of the world can live together in harmony – just keep your snotty noses, Never Have I Ever episodes, and Baby Bjorn’s to yourself.