I recently wrote a piece about six annoying things new parents do, and offered some advice on how to avoid them. The majority of comments said something like “you don’t realise how hard it is”, “Yeah, well, non-parents are really annoying too, so there!”, or “suck it up, princess”. (In reply, Essential Baby published a piece titled ‘New parents need empathy, not telling off‘ – Ed)
But it’s important to be balanced, especially during election season, so I thought this week I’d list six things that are wonderful about new parents. Give yourselves a slap on the back, guys! If you can somehow muster enough energy to even lift an arm, that is.
1) Reduce crowd numbers
If you’ve ever looked for an inner-city parking space on a Saturday night, or have tried to book a reservation for a hot restaurant, you’ll know that our cities are becoming far too crowded. And if you’ve tried to buy tickets to events like Splendour in the Grass that sell out in a matter of minutes, then you’ll know – there are just too darn many of us.
But you know who isn’t out there, booking the last tickets to that new blockbuster movie the night it comes out before we can, or making the last day of a big art exhibition so crowded we can’t even see the paintings? New parents. They’re at home, diligently minding their kids. Bless them.
Of course they have their own overcrowding issues at adventure playgrounds and big shopping malls and IKEA, but who in their right mind would want to compete to go there?
2) Making childless people feel cool
I’ve never been cool. At parties in high school and early uni, I was always a bit of a wallflower. But you know what happened to all those dudes who were great with the ladies? They went ahead and married those ladies, and then their social lives dwindled away when they had kids. So who’s the one hitting up the nightclubs on a Saturday night? Little ol’ me.
Well, I used to be. Now I’m just too tired. But still, I could go if I wanted, in theory. My point is this – when I talk to my friends with kids, they make me feel like my entire life is spent sipping champagne in a succession of VIP limos, just because it’s objectively more fun than theirs. Unless you count the fun they have hanging out with their kids.
3) Boost herd immunity
There’s one thing I’ve learned since young children became a regular part of my world, and that’s that there is no better medium for the rapid dissemination of illnesses. In an era when lots of children go to childcare – a very welcome development in many respects, of course – real viruses can spread as rapidly faster than a video of a One Nation candidate who thinks Islam is a country.
On a superficial level, this is annoying, because it means you’ll catch every single influenza strain doing the rounds. Some parents I know have even recently contracted retro ailments like mumps. And tummy bugs will constantly attack your entire house, not only confining you to your bed of pain, but then forcing you to leave it at regular intervals in order to do endless loads of laundry.
But this is ultimately a good thing, because it leads to more robust immune systems. The more antibodies that develop in a population, the more resilient it becomes. By turning your homes into biohazard units, you are the guinea pigs that are developing resistance for all of us.
4) Guarantee the future of the human race
By putting themselves through the exhausting rigamarole of having children, new parents are ensuring the survival, and ongoing superiority, of we humans. The rest of us are benefiting from the hard labour of those who bathe, feed and protect the leaders of tomorrow’s world. Without the parents’ efforts, cockroaches, rabbits or pigeons might take over as the dominant species on the planet. Just remember when you’re cleaning up yet another filthy disaster – you’re not just doing it for your kid, you’re doing it for the whole of humanity.
5) Excellent entertainment content
Harry Potter, Pixar movies and the Super Mario Bros games are just three examples of content that I, and many adults, enjoy which could not have been produced without a constant supply of children to provide a market. In this sense, many grown-ups are sponging off the efforts of parents everywhere, and I and my fellow immature grown-ups are truly grateful.
6) Simulate a zombie apocalypse
Thanks to new parents, we now know how to deal with listless, drooling, wild-eyed drones, shuffling amongst us. We childless folk also know how to deal with parents trying to convert us to their way of life – just as zombies bite non-zombies, many parents try to convince us non-parents that our lives won’t be complete until we have a child, and are shuffling along the street, pushing a pram. This, I am convinced, is the perfect preparation for life once the true zombie takeover begins. So thank you, parents/almost-zombies.