Ruth and I have five children, which is about six more than four children. It wasn’t such a big deal in Australia, where immigration was the only thing that offset the negative growth rate, but in the UK a large family makes life complicated. People react to our situation in a variety of ways. There are those who display shock or pity, and those who respond as though we’re breaking some unspoken rule.
It’s possible to view children as a burden; a drain on the resources of the planet. The doctor who helped deliver our fourth took me to one side after the event and suggested that we had enough children now. He told me that our carbon footprint was big enough. He had a point, but the cynical part of me sometimes wonders if what people really mean to say is “If you don’t stop having children I might have to change my habits as a consumer.” There are those who view children as a resource, potential or otherwise. If you follow the news you may be aware that China is softening it’s one child policy as a result of studies predicting that the country will face a workforce shortage in the future. Children, for me, are neither a burden nor a resource. They are an expression of hope.
If Ruth and I do our job well then we’ll contribute five more people to this earth, who will take the best of us and run with it. Hopefully their character and deeds will more than offset their environmental impact. We are now the parents of a teenager and, if my maths is right, we’ll have at least one teenager in the house for about the next fifteen years. Teenagers are, generally speaking, hard work to have around, but some days I look at Calvin and feel fit to burst with pride as I see the man that he is becoming. Here’s to the next fifteen years.