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Raising Junior: Practical Uses for Children

by Sam Harper

Junior © Monkey Business - Fotolia.com All rights reserved.

This column is for all of you people who're on the fence about having children. You know who you are. You spread the Brie evenly. You care what the inside of your car looks like. You use coasters. Your living room contains old things. That children keep us in touch with innocence and wonder isn't enough for you. You need practical reasons to have kids. You want to know if they're as handy as the laminator you ordered from Hammacher Schlemmer. You don't care that a cuddly meat puppet will make your life more complete; you want to know how Junior will make your life more productive. Well, listen up, Alphas. This father of three has the answers.

Career Management - Want more control in your career? Want to take charge and be your own damn boss? Have kids. Really. Consider this...The day for the company picnic has arrived. You hate the company picnic because its highlights are folk dancing and macaroni salad that's been warmed by the sun. Alas, attendance is mandatory. But wait! You have children! Now you can call your boss and tell him that you really want to go to the picnic and hear him talk about himself but your child has "104" fever. Warning: It's best to use the "Junior's Got 104" excuse sparingly because, (a) it opens the door to Karmic disturbances, and (b) it's so threadbare that it rarely fools even the dumbest boss. Still, it beats "The Baby-Sitter Cancelled" excuse. Use that one and you leave yourself open to the "Just Bring Junior Along!" response.

If you happen to get tagged with the "Just Bring Junior Along" response, don't panic, you still have control. See, your child can also be used as a social deflector shield. All the better if Junior is 13 years old and off the charts in weight, height and head size. Just keep him squarely on your lap, right between you and that talkative accountant. When the polka fest begins, dump mustard dressing on your sport coat, blame Junior and go home early, bossman!!

Have Kids, Stay Healthy - As a childless person, you probably spend an average of 45 minutes on the john each morning, blissfully scouring the sports section. I'll bet you didn't know that the New England Journal of Medicine reported that potty loitering puts inordinate strain on your prostate and other important organs that I can't spell. With children, 45 minutes of privacy in any room in the house is simply impossible!

Screening Calls - Concerned about having your oh-so-important calls interrupted? Just as an example, let's say you're waiting at home for a call to confirm that Bill Gates is giving you a $1 billion tax-free gift so you can retire and eat ribs. The phone rings. You pick up. It's not Bill. It's Dick, a "friend" who always calls around dinner time and then has the nerve to tell you the truth when you grumble the obligatory "How's it going?" With children, Dick simply won't be able to tie up the phone lines because you're going to tip over the refrigerator, scream "Omigod! Junior just scraped his knee!" and hang up. Is that handy, or what?

Information Resourcing - Okay, your iPhone has Internet access, a satellite hookup and Martha Stewart's direct dial, but does it have the tattletale button? If not, you need the yard-ape upgrade. How else will you know when Junior's little brother is moussing the cat with oven cleaner?

Pad Your Savings Account! - As a single person, you spend thousands in overpriced restaurants every year. With kids, you can still eat out AND save a bundle. How? Kids NEVER finish their "Kiddie Menu" order, which allows you to fill up on their cheeseburger and fries leftovers. Caution: If you start to lose feeling in your feet, lay off the leftovers and hit the salad bar.

God's Little Travel Agents - You like to travel, but you worry that having kids will cut into your travel fund. Get over it! If Junior's need for braces cuts into your travel fund, just force him to befriend that intolerable rich brat in his class. Chances are, his Dad has an empty vacation home somewhere that he'll let you use for free if you promise to take his kid along. Travel Note: I'm sorry to report that most airlines no longer offer early boarding for families with young children. Don't let this keep you from having kids. Early boarding is easily realized for the traveling family. Just steal an airport wheelchair and feign paralysis.

Total Access - Ever seen the bathroom in Fendi? Or Gucci? Or Armani? Of course you haven't. You don't have kids. It's amazing how quickly the plush "employees only" lavatories become available to us common folk when you tell that snooty sales clerk that Junior has an explosive intestinal virus.

Groom No More! - Normally, you spend painstaking hours in the mirror, dressing for success. When you have kids, your sartorial worries are over! Never mind that your shirt is stained, wrinkled and tucked into your long underwear. Never mind that your hair is a gummi bear habitat. You're the parent of children! You're fighting the good fight! The only possible drawback here is that your children won't want to be seen with you in public.

Sex Be Gone! - As a vigorous single person, you're probably tired of having hours of transcendent sex with the love of your life. With kids, there's always an excuse to avoid that messy intimacy thing. You're too tired. The kids have been crawling on you all day. Unfortunately, meaningful sexual avoidance can only be achieved until the kids go off to college. Then you'll just have to have more children.

Copyright © 1999, 2008 Sam Harper
All rights reserved.

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