Tuesday, March 10, 2009

You Have How Many Kids?

In regards to large families...again

Once again let’s start with a disclaimer. This is not directed at the following people: those who can’t conceive, those who are destitute and live in a cardboard refrigerator box, those who are mentally or physically unable to have anymore, those who just flat out hate kids and anyone else I may have left out. There! Happy?

With all the recent publicity of the octuplets birth, large families are in the news and getting scrutinized more – for better or worse.

A lot of people have been critical of the woman who had the 8 babies, that’s not what this article is about. Whatever people think about her maybe our best response should be to pray for her and all of her children. I’m thinking they are going to need it. Because, Damn! A mother and father together raising one child is hard enough. Besides everyone and their mother has been chiming in on the Octo-Mom. From the publicity hound Duggar’s to her parents and grandmother to Angeline and Brad. I think O even mentioned it in his state of the union address.

But her story has lead to some sweeping generalizations about large families. How we are irresponsible. That we can’t possibly raise all those children properly and provide for them. That the children won’t get enough attention and will feel neglected. That we are killing the earth by using up more resources than ‘normal’ size families. Or how we are just plain weird…um, let’s skip that one.

I recently read some of the comments after this article in the NY Times. It was actually a pretty good article. But the comments from readers will give you a good idea of how some view large families. I know I know it’s readers of the NY Times commenting but still probably representative of America in general. Well maybe not, it seems The Times is mortgaging its building to make payroll. So maybe nobody reads it anymore. Does anyone actually buy a newspaper anymore? I haven’t in about 15 years but that’s material for another post.

Issue 1 – We are using too many resources and killing the earth.

In some cases maybe we are but so what? Who says you get to decide who gets what resources? We pay for our expenses…unlike many. Last time I check we were still technically a Republic, although we are on the fast-track to socialism now. In a lot of cases we really don’t use much more than ‘normal’ size families. For example my gas and electric bill is lower than my dad’s and step-mom’s because we keep the thermostat lower in the winter and higher in the summer. That’s our choice and that’s theirs. So 14 people are using less power to heat and cool their house than two. Neither of us is right or wrong, that’s just how we choose to live.

We own a 15-passenger van (of course we do) and it gets around 12 mpg (sure it does). I’ll admit that was kinda rough last summer when gas was north of $4. But we are using less gasoline per person than the ‘regular’ couple with their perfect ‘1 boy and 1 girl family’ driving a mini-van that gets 22 mpg. I’m too lazy to do the math, but you get the point. Besides let’s be honest here folks - mini-vans are dorky. I mean seriously, is there anything more pathetic than a guy who commutes in a minivan? Who wears the jock in that family? Well middle-age guys driving around in Sebring convertibles are dorkier, yeah like they are getting dates. Excuse me, what’s that? Well yeah I do drive a Teal Chevy Prism. What’s your point? That car is a total chick magnet.

Besides if these minivan drivers really cared about the earth they would have no kids and drive a Prius or a rickshaw and use reusable cloth toilet paper (I think I'd rather use a power washer than those). That would give them a really small carbon foot fungus. Side note - Is the Prius the whitest car ever made or what? I mean really how many brothers have you ever seen drive one? I’ve done an informal survey of Pruis’ I’ve seen around town, out of about 25 cars 24 were driven by white-folks. And I’m pretty sure the one black dude I saw driving one was a CPA or an actuarial. Has there ever been a more Pretentious-Look-at-Me-I’m-Such-a-Wonderful-Person-I-Love-the-Earth-but-I’m-Really-a-Trendy-Douchebag car made? If I see one more story about some rich movie actor who owns a Pruis I’m going to throw-up in my mouth. I just love the photo ops of the stars driving around in a Prius. It’s probably the only time the car has ever been out of their garages. Hey don’t get me wrong, I’d love to get 45 mpg but not at $24k for a little tin can that in an accident would get crushed like The Donk’s heart when I workout with someone else.

Shoot where was I? (man I need to get that Concerta prescription refilled) Oh yeah large families and how we are using more than our ‘fair’ share of resources. Well other than food I’d say we use less per person than then our critics. On the more food charge I’ll plead guilty, we love to eat. But heck this country wastes millions of tons of food each year so it’s kind of moot point.

Issue #2 - Our children will feel neglected and won’t get enough attention.

LMAO – this one kills me, really. Our kids ALWAYS have someone to play with…or fight with. They are almost never bored. And if they are they won’t admit it around us. Bored is a 4-lettered word around this house. Claim you are bored and you will me scrubbing toilets faster than you can say Tidy Bowl. Plus we have lots of friends with large families (defined here as 3 kids or more) in the neighborhood and other kids are always here and some or our kids are always there.

As far as spending time with mom and dad, well maybe they don’t get as much one-on-one time with their parents as other kids. But I kinda doubt it. Most of the small families (talking about 2 kids or less…not midgets) I know drop their kids off at 7 in the morning at daycare or before school care and then don’t see them again until dinner time. Then it’s a couple of hours of homework, lather, rinse, repeat. Sam spends all day with the kids homeschooling them during the school and at the pool during the summer. I work from home 2 days a week and I’m home the other 3 days by 4:30.

Plus, let me let you in on a little secret, once kids reach a certain age, they don’t’ want to spend a lot if any time with their parents.

Issue #3 – Kids cost too much to raise.

Well that all depends on your lifestyle and how you raise them. We live a fairly simple and normal life. We aren’t dirt poor and we aren’t wealthy. But we always have food and clothes (good thing, you don’t want to see this body naked). We go on vacation once a year. The kids play sports and do other activities. Sure they wear hand-me downs but they also get new clothing too. They get plenty of birthday and Christmas gifts, too many probably. We bought our house in 2000 from a foreclosure sale and fixed it up. And we bought less house than we could afford so there isn’t stress (well not a lot of stress) about making the mortgage payment each month and the house will be paid off in 4 years. Sadly I got a feeling there will be plenty of opportunities for people to buy foreclosures in the next few years.

What about the cost of college you ask? What about it? To quote Judge Smails in Caddyshack, “the world needs ditch diggers too’. Seriously when did college become the Holy Grail? What is wrong with going to a trade school, getting an apprenticeship or starting your own business right out of high school? I know people who have done all those things and done quite well. And I know people who went to college and are total losers. My major in college was economics….and I test software for a living. Jeez I’m boring. Anyway our 3rd is heading to college in the fall and so far it’s worked out for us. Our oldest child went to community college for 2 years (for free – scholarships and grants) then she transferred to a State College as a junior. It’s not free but with scholarships and grants it was doable for her. Our second son is in the Seminary (free). That’s the best route to go. Send your kids to a Seminary or Convent. Might as well get something out of your tithes ;). #3 kid will be heading to community college in the fall. We are waiting to see how much financial aid he gets, but aid or not it will be affordable. That is our plan for the rest of the kids, 2 years of community college and then off to a State University, assuming they want to go to college in the first place.

Are those of us with large families that threatening to some? Are the critics just a bunch of busybodies who like to tell others how to live? Do we make them feel somehow inferior (I hope not)? Or is the real reason that we make them feel guilty about their choices? I really have no idea. I can’t figure out where the hostility from some people comes from. Maybe they are just jerks. Thankfully they seem to me a small, but vocal, minority. Most of the people we encounter are pretty supportive or at least tolerant of our family size.

At least I’ll have plenty of kids to take care of me when I get old. I mean all 12 of them can’t hate me at once, can they? Y’all blasting us for our big families, have fun in that nursing home. I hear Lawrence Welk Karaoke night is a hoot. And who wouldn’t want to sit around in a wheelchair all day slobbering on one’s self? Good times. Well that assumes that in the near future the Feds aren’t whacking the old and the ‘useless’ to save on social security and Medicare. Speaking of which, the only reason you are going to have any chance of even getting a dime from social security, is because of all my taxpaying and future taxpaying children. Heck three of them already have/had part-time jobs and have gotten to know what it feels like to have the government steal money from them each payday.

But in order to just get along with everyone, we have decided to sell our 15 passenger van and get this new SUV hybrid that just came out.


Mau said...

Love the new vehicle, but I think PETA may get all over you for that one ;-)

Great post! BTW, you and Sam make having a large family look like an absolute joy. I know you guys have inspired us over the years.

the donk said...

many things:

1) i could care less when you work out with someone else... ok, i aint foolin no one with that...
2) i have a minivan... :(
3) i am a black accountant
4) in answer to your question about all 12 kids hating you at once... YES, it can happen... just look at me and how you kids wish i was dead... :(
5) you are funny when you are fired up
6) thanks for including me in the large fam category by saying 3 more more kids... you DO LOVE ME!!!!
7) thank goodness for sam...

june cleaver said...

Rob... you said "midget" and I don't think that is the correct terminology. Midgets like to be called "little people" so next time you see a midget, make sure you don't get kicked in the knees and call them a "little person."

Just trying to educate the world... one person at a time.


Jo Flemings said...

I think you have met my husband Cory- he would love to buy you a coffee- since I hear you forego beer! This was a shot in the arm for me today- you guys make it look and sound easy!

momto5minnies said...

I think going to community college is a great idea before heading off to a bigger 4 year school. Too many kids today are pressured to know what they want as soon as they near high school graduation. So much time and money is potentially wasted I think.

I also know as someone who completely paid for her schooling alone, that kids can find their own means to get through school ... just have to be creative and persistent.

Tonya said...

Thanks you for your post! I agree with ALL of it. I've been wanting to blog about the large family thing, but I couldn't say it as humorously as you did.

Oh, and by having your kids wear hand-me-downs you are recycling! These folks with two kids are buying NEW clothes - talk about wasteful. :-)

Annaberri said...

This post made my day. My husband has to drive our minivan to work because currently, that is the car that works. We have another, but it only gets to the bus stop. If it warms up all the way, it misfires. Instead of fixing it, we paid off our credit card debt with our tax rebate. Silly us. He was taking the bus til he got hired rather far from home and with three hours worth of bus transfers each way, really, driving the chick magnet is much preferable. So now I get to stay home with the kids all day unless I want to fire up the beast and only go far enough not to warm it up (about 10 mins). Today it is 26 degrees, though, so maybe I can drive 15 mins at a time!
I love your posts!

Party of Eight said...

Love the fact that you quoted judge smails...how about the very beginning of that movie? With all of the kids coming out of the bedrooms, and Danny's getting ready to go to work, his Dad is sitting at the table for breakfast and looks at the kid sitting there...Who are you???

Roger said...

Well said, I guess it's a bad thing that I commute in a mini-van, eh? At least it's paid for, and it's all mine baby! :)

Both of my wife's uncles own Prius' and they are idiot liberal morons. Oh, and they think that six is too many kids. Imagine what they did when we told them about number seven. :)

Excellent article, thanks.

Rob said...

Mau – boy have we got you fooled

Donk – I think Mary still likes you…only cause you are Chase’s dad though

Thanks June – I’m trying out dwarf now instead of midget…don’t want to be un-pc

Jo – I’ll take Cory up on that coffee offer

M2M – community college worked out incredibly well for our oldest. 2 years for free and she’s doing great at a 4 year school now

Tonya – the toddler, the 6th boy, was wearing clothes the other day that the oldest son wore all those years ago (he’s 17 now). All 6 boys have now worn some of the same clothes

Annaberri – tell you husband to keep rocking that chick mobile mini-van. Hey a mini-van is better than hours on a bus. So what’s within 10 minutes of your house? Can you stretch that a bit and have the kids push if the best dies on you?

Party of 8 – I watched way more Caddy Shack in college than one person ever should. “Bee the ball Danny”

Roger – don’t feel bad Roger of the Great Name, I drive teal-blue Chevy Prism. The funny thing about the Prius is that cause I mentioned it in my post, I now have Prius ads on my sidebar from Buy a Toyata.com

momto5minnies said...

I was listening to the radio yesterday and they were talking about how DIVORCE is the biggest environmental/economic burden and it made total sense to me. How come we never really criticize those folks?

Rachel said...

I forget how much I love reading what you have to say. As always, hilarious and right on the money.

Clearly God thinks you two are good breeding stock for humanity. In our case, He seems to have shut us down. Clearly He must have realized that the world doesn't need more Ross kids. (The 3 of them ARE kinda scary.) I guess I'll have to get over it. After 5+ years of trying and nothing happening I had to buy my 4th baby, from a different kind of breeder, that of Siberian Huskies.

The upshot is TiVo isn't gonna argue with me or beg me for a cell phone or car. So, I got that going for me, which is nice. ;-)