There are certain animals that eat their own young, and I’m really quite surprised the rate of this isn’t higher among humans. Children are like war – every now and again, it’s good to have a small one, albeit only to remind you of why they’re not a good way to live. At the moment, we are doing pseudo-parental duty, in that we are taking care of two small proto-humans belonging to Chris’s step-daugher, who is off looking at houses.
This is, of course, the royal “we”. I did ask if there was anything I could do to help, but Chris, bless her heart, pretended not to hear me as she inserted the bottle, plugging a mewling infant. But if a wriggling package ever needs to be held at arm’s length, for perhaps as long as 30 seconds, I’m your man. Though do have to say, all is, for the moment, calm and quiet on the child front, and that’s without the need for the application of duct-tape.
It’s amazing the power that a Disney movie can exercise, and there is rapt attention in the room. I think they must insert subliminal messages on the tapes: “be calm…look at the cute animals…purchase the merchandise…” If only there were Matrix-like vats, in which babies could be inserted, with a continuous stream of animated features piped in until the subjects reached maturity, and could be popped out into the world as fully-functioning adults. Even I might be prepared to contemplate having kids then.
When I look at a baby, I can’t help wondering what it’s thinking about. There’s clearly nothing being wasted on survival work – finding stuff to eat, keeping warm, avoiding enemies – so I think there’s a great deal of unused brain capacity rattling around. Maybe we should wire a couple of hundred infants together in a neural network and see what comes out. Possibly nothing more than a gurgled musak version of Girl From Ipanema, the brain’s equivalent of being kept on hold for the first three years, but just possibly we might discover the source of that expression of absolute and beatific calm.
I think it’s the long-term responsibility that puts me off having kids. Gazelles have it right: twenty minutes after birth, you’re galloping across the prairie, and if you’re not, here come the vultures with their tickets to the all-you-can-gobble buffet. For the human race, it’s at least a dozen years before they can safely be left at home to their own devices, and until then it’s like having a ball and chain tied to your leg, that needs to be fed three times a day.
We were at the local wrestling federation last night, and a woman in the front row was carrying her new-born in her arms. To misquote Reese Witherspoon. “Look at you, you have a baby! In a brawl!” I was hoping that at some point, one of the participants would grab it and start hitting his opponent over the head with it. This probably explains why I have never been asked to run a wrestling promotion. Hey, I’m not cruel, I’d have used a stunt infant…