The Sad Lives of Couples Who Opted Not to Have Kids

The Sad Lives of Couples Who Opted Not to Have Kids

Look at this pitiful couple, just sitting there, with no kids in sight, on a tropical beach, forlornly sipping on frozen margaritas. Think how much happier they’d be accompanied by a hormonal teenage daughter explaining to them how they’ve totally ruined her life.

Look at this pitiful couple, just sitting there, with no kids in sight, on a tropical beach, forlornly sipping on frozen margaritas. Think how much happier they’d be accompanied by a hormonal teenage daughter explaining to them how they’ve totally ruined her life.

My wife and I raised two self-confident, spirited daughters. Now in their late twenties, they both had to overcome several daunting childhood adversities, starting with the fact that one of their parents was a humor writer who had the maturity (on a good day) of an eight-year-old. But out of respect for their privacy, I will not reveal which parent that was.

I often feel deep empathy for all those couples who opted never to have children. Both my wife and I have siblings who sadly made the mistake of choosing a life without offspring. Recently we called my wife’s sister to let her know how sorry we felt about their shortsighted decision to never have kids, but no one was home. Turns out her sister was away with her husband on a two-week Caribbean cruise. She must be living in such denial about their lapse in judgment.

Oh sure, people who opt out of having heirs have time to travel the world, but how can the fleeting pleasures of 14 days in the Maldives in a four-star villa looking out on sparkling blue water possibly compare to the joy of a three-day getaway weekend to Disneyworld in Florida with your kids in July. Trust me, the It’s a Small World ride will totally be worth the 50-minute wait in 97-degree heat and sweltering humidity.

People who have opted out of continuing their lineage don’t know what they’re missing out on. Like the satisfaction of successfully changing an infant’s poopy diaper – 1,465 times over two years. Or the thrill of cheering for your nine-year-old in a rec soccer game when they suddenly realize they just kicked the winning goal – for the other team.

One of the great joys that childless couples miss out on is the thrill of cheering on your young athlete as they compete in sports. Let’s not ruin the moment by dwelling on how much you spent on equipment, travel to out of town matches, and private coaching lessons, okay?

One of the great joys that childless couples miss out on is the thrill of cheering on your young athlete as they compete in sports. Let’s not ruin the moment by dwelling on how much you spent on equipment, travel to out of town matches, and private coaching lessons, okay?

Childless couples will never know the thrill of visiting the emergency room for stitches after your 5th grade daughter came up with the brilliant idea to skateboard down a playground slide during recess. Or the surprise of returning home two hours earlier than you planned on a Saturday night to discover your 17-year-old son hosting a kegger party – with strippers. Thankfully, the neighbors called the cops, who broke it up before things really got out of control.

Some people cite as their reason for not having kids that it would interfere with their career aspirations. As a parent of young children, you can pursue any job you want, just so long as they let you start work after 9am and leave by 2:30, so you can be home before the kids, and your employer lets you work from home whenever one of your kids is sick (which I estimate to be roughly 20% of the time).

Sure, couples who choose to forego having kids usually avoid some minor expenses that the rest of us typically experience. But can you really put a price tag on the delight in your six-year-old’s face when they tell you they got the part of the fourth Christmas tree from the left in the school Christmas play?

I’m not going to lie to you, raising a family can be expensive. People say the biggest purchase a couple makes is buying a house. That couple apparently never had kids. Because the cost of supporting a child to age 18 is equivalent to the cost of buying FOUR houses – except that they don’t increase in value over time, you can’t sell them for a profit, and after 16 years they’ll probably inform you that they hate you. Okay, so having kids tends to be expensive – and exhausting. You can’t put a price tag on your 13-year-old’s beautiful smile. On second thought, you can. That would be $13,000 over six years for braces.

I’m getting the gnawing feeling I’m not making a very good case for having kids. Let me try again. My point is that I love our daughters. They have brought me so much happiness that it’s impossible to quantify. So what if our decision to procreate delayed my retirement plans by 13 years? So what if vacations for 20 years as our kids were growing up would consist of camping in a tent instead of villas in the south of France? So what if every now and then, I found myself getting sucked into shouting matches with my middle school girls about the fact that just because the Millers let their daughter Ashley have a smart phone doesn’t mean you’re getting one…. And so many other precious memories.

It’s true, childfree couples can live more spontaneously, hopping in the car and driving off to wherever their spirit moves them. Meanwhile, we parents spend most of our spare time as chauffeurs, taking our kids to soccer practices, piano lessons, birthday parties, and the occasional ER.

I feel such heartbreak as I gaze at this photo. This couple has no kids. As a result, instead of investing hundreds of thousands of dollars on four years of college for two kids, they blew it all on a new sports car, a vacation home on the Carolina coast and a catamaran vacation in the Greek Isles. So sad.

I feel such heartbreak as I gaze at this photo. This couple has no kids. As a result, instead of investing hundreds of thousands of dollars on four years of college for two kids, they blew it all on a new sports car, a vacation home on the Carolina coast and a catamaran vacation in the Greek Isles. So sad.

Sometimes I envy those kid-free couples being able to purchase a fancy new car every three years. But I’d like to see them try to haul six kids in their shiny red sports car to the mall to see Frozen – for the fourth time, like we can in our 12-year-old Toyota minivan.

What I’m saying is I can think of dozens of reasons not to have kids. But all of those reasons stacked on top of each other still won’t offset the one reason we chose to raise a family: Because for us, having a family was more important than accumulating expensive houses and fancy cars. No regrets.

My life is filled with memories that you simply can’t put a price tag on – like the summer I taught my then 16-year-old daughter how to drive. Okay, technically, you CAN put a price tag on that memory: $1,650 to be exact – the cost to replace the car’s front bumper when she drove it into a landscaping rock next to our driveway on the very same day she passed her driver’s test. Ah, the joys of parenthood.

That’s the view from the bleachers. Perhaps I’m off base.

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Teens, When Lying to Your Parents, You Need to Up Your Game

Teens, When Lying to Your Parents, You Need to Up Your Game

[The following true story is based on a time when a good friend of mine’s then 16-year-old daughter tried to wriggle out of several lies she told her parents about a “sleepover” at a friend’s house, which in actuality was a party with several boys and alcohol, while her friend’s parents were out of town for the evening, unaware of what was taking place at their house.]

Hey, teenagers, don’t you hate it when you make up a perfectly good lie to get out of trouble, and your parents refuse to believe you? Well, this just means you need to work on your prevarication skills. Either that, or you could try telling your parents the truth for once. Nah, forget it. That would never work.

Hey, teenagers, don’t you hate it when you make up a perfectly good lie to get out of trouble, and your parents refuse to believe you? Well, this just means you need to work on your prevarication skills. Either that, or you could try telling your parents the truth for once. Nah, forget it. That would never work.

Hey, girl. Wazzup? Sorry to hear your parents busted you over your harmless shindig last weekend at Monica’s house. I can’t believe they completely lost it just because you girls had a few boys join you for your sleepover while her parents were out of town.

You did absolutely nothing wrong – if you overlook the minor fact that you failed to mention that the get-together would include boys… and alcohol… and weed… and cops. It was all just an unfortunate misunderstanding. It could have happened to anybody.

Parents are so lame, right? With all their Nazi rules about showing them respect and cleaning your room and telling you to get off your phone even though you’ve only been on it for an hour and a half, and not letting you do sleepover parties with boys, beer pong, and weed. So unfair, I agree.

Hey, next time you plan to make up a fiction to conceal your plans for an epic underage beer bash, perhaps you should invest a little more time on your fake backstory to avoid getting caught. Let’s go over what happened, and just maybe, we can piece together where your deception went off the rails.

Before you headed out on your weekend of teenage debauchery, I liked the way you chose to compliment your parents, even though they probably found it a bit odd, given it was the first time you had said anything nice to them in ten months. But when you said, “Mom, I don’t believe I’ve ever seen you look so pretty,” it might have come off sounding a tad bit more credible had you not told her this while she still had her hair in curlers and her face slathered in Noxzema skin cream. Just saying.

Then, when you were at Monica’s house, remember how your mom texted you, asking for her parents’ names and phone number in case of emergency? I applaud your fast thinking, given that Monica’s parents were in Chicago, 1,800 miles away, with no idea of the party you girls were instigating. But perhaps you shouldn’t have panicked and given your mom the phone number of your friend Chad, who was also at the party.

Who could have possibly foreseen that your mom might then call that very same phone number to ask Monica’s parents if they’d like her to bring a homemade dessert for the sleepover. Imagine your mom’s confusion when Chad, doing his best middle-aged dad impersonation, lowered his voice an octave and replied, “Nah, thanks, girl. But we’re chill. The girls are having a crazy’ lit’ time. Later, gator.”

Then, do you remember what happened when your mom asked Monica’s dad if there would be any alcohol served at this sleepover? Drawing a blank? Let me refresh your memory. Dad, er Chad, explained, “No way, mom. I made sure to lock up all the good stuff in the fridge.” Can you see how that might have elevated your mom’s anxiety ever so slightly?

Do you notice anything missing from this photo of a party of teenagers? If you guessed, “Where are the parents?”, you’re a winner. These underage kids are having a fun time chillaxing with 45 of their closest friends. If you ask me, they’re just having good clean fun – and perhaps just a little too much tequila.

Do you notice anything missing from this photo of a party of teenagers? If you guessed, “Where are the parents?”, you’re a winner. These underage kids are having a fun time chillaxing with 45 of their closest friends. If you ask me, they’re just having good clean fun – and perhaps just a little too much tequila.

Then barely twenty seconds after she got off the phone from Dad/Chad, she called you, remember? She asked you, “How old is Monica’s dad? He sounds rather young.” Then your brain misfired, and you blurted out, “Monica’s dad can’t talk now. He had to go to work.” 

If I have my notes correct, it was around 10:45pm when your mom shocked you by showing up at Monica’s house, because you had forgotten your sleeping bag. Imagine her dismay when she learned that apparently both parents had to leave the house suddenly for work emergencies – and would not, according to you, be home for another two hours.

If you ask me, it is entirely plausible that there might be a work emergency at 10:45pm on a Saturday night – especially for Monica’s dad, who is an accountant, not to mention for her stay-at-home mom. Like you, I would have been furious at your mom for not believing your lies. The fact that she feels she can’t trust you is totally her fault.

That’s about the time when your mom, walking through the front door, noticed that there were six boys on the premises. I think you almost had her convinced when you made up that narrative about how the entire group of them had just stopped by moments before, asking for help with their geometry homework. Too bad your mom could not hear your very believable explanation over the six 16-year-olds boys singing and dancing along to K-pop songs by BTS blaring on the karaoke machine at 160 decibels.

I also have to applaud your quick cerebration when your mom saw the beer keg on the back patio. I’m not sure I would have been as imaginative as you to come up with your almost convincing fabrication that Monica’s dad had bought it for a neighborhood block party later that week. I think your mom would have fallen for it, had it not been for your idiot friend Troy, who unwittingly approached her and said, and I quote, “Hey, you must be Monica’s mom. I thought you were in Chicago. Welcome back. Care for a brewski? Or are you more of a Tequila mom?” I understand now why Troy had to repeat 9th grade.

Where are the parents, you ask? On a weekend visit to Chicago. But don’t worry. Their 16-year-old daughter Monica promised them she’d just have a quiet sleepover with a couple friends. She’ll even vacuum the house. Such a responsible girl.

Where are the parents, you ask? On a weekend visit to Chicago. But don’t worry. Their 16-year-old daughter Monica promised them she’d just have a quiet sleepover with a couple friends. She’ll even vacuum the house. Such a responsible girl.

Still, I bet this would have all blown over, had it not been for the two cop cars that pulled up in response to a neighbor’s complaint about the ruckus. Who knew that police dogs could detect the smell of pot so quickly? Impressive. Too bad your mom didn’t buy your next anecdote about how you had no idea what it was and thought it was some sort of seasoning to add flavor to your salad. A valiant Hail Mary try, girl.

I’m relieved to hear the cops let all of you off with just a warning. But I’m sorry your parents have grounded you for two months. I guess that means you’ll miss the secret rave party at Jessica’s house next weekend – I mean, the all-nighter where just girls will all be working on that science fair team project. I hope your mom changes her mind. You might start by complimenting her on her cooking. Good luck.

That’s the view from the bleachers. Perhaps I’m off base.

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© Tim Jones, View from the Bleachers 2021

Warning Signs You May Be Experiencing  Kronic Incessant Disorder Syndrome (K.I.D.S.)

Warning Signs You May Be Experiencing Kronic Incessant Disorder Syndrome (K.I.D.S.)

Every single day people from all walks of life learn the upsetting diagnosis: They’ve become another statistic in the global pandemic of K.I.D.S. While there are many effective methods of prevention, as of today, there is no known cure.

Every single day people from all walks of life learn the upsetting diagnosis: They’ve become another statistic in the global pandemic of K.I.D.S. While there are many effective methods of prevention, as of today, there is no known cure.

Just as our nation is grappling with the Coronavirus pandemic, it appears there is another crisis rapidly spreading throughout the world. Over the past 50 years, throughout the Americas, Europe, and Asia, there has been an explosion of reported cases of Kronic Incessant Disorder Syndrome (better known by its acronym, K.I.D.S.). No socio-demographic group has been spared by this invasive and intractable outbreak. In fact, I myself have been waging my own personal battle with K.I.D.S. for over twenty years.

According to humanitarian relief agencies’ longitudinal studies dating back to the 19th century, the number of known cases of K.I.D.S. is at its highest level in human history. Alarmingly, it shows no signs of reversing its upward trend. For millions of couples facing the long-term ordeal of K.I.D.S., there is no relief in sight and social distancing is simply not an option.

Scientists have been unable to unlock the mysterious inner workings of K.I.D.S., but its origins have been conclusively linked to a combination of alcohol consumption combined with unprotected sexual contact in the vast majority of cases. Warning signs that you may have contracted K.I.D.S. include an inability to maintain an orderly household and an increasing disregard for clutter and chaos. Another warning sign includes a dramatic degree of social distancing by adults who have not been exposed to K.I.D.S.

What makes this epidemic of K.I.D.S. so debilitating is that there is very little anyone can do to combat it. Once contracted, in the vast majority of cases, the condition, while not usually fatal, typically lasts the rest of their lives. People coping with even the mildest form of K.I.D.S. often report that the condition gets progressively more difficult to manage over time, as the virus mutates in appearance, continually grows in size, and in later stages becomes increasingly resistant to attempts to control it. As people struggle to adapt to living with K.I.D.S., they report that close friends they’ve known for years but who have not contracted K.I.D.S. often avoid them like the plague.

Early stage K.I.D.S. is often associated with significant sleep deprivation lasting up to eight months. During this “incubator” period, common side effects include a significant decline in the victim’s range of vocabulary, typically accompanied by an uncontrollable urge to speak in a high-pitched chirpy voice about successful bowel movements.

Scientists have identified an alarming phenomenon in people suffering with K.I.D.S. – a noticeable deterioration in their mental faculties. They speculate that this intellectual impairment may be caused by prolonged exposure to vacuous television programming dedicated to letters of the alphabet or possibly due to being subjected to endless recitations of drippy songs about Baby Belugas or beautiful days in the neighborhood.

Surprisingly, after a few years, some K.I.D.S. sufferers have reported brief intervals of partially regained lucidity and brief episodes where the worst aspects of K.I.D.S. appear to go into in remission. They can sometimes regain normal sleep cycles and are able to enjoy more adult-themed TV programming. There have even been reported instances in which people living with K.I.D.S. have experienced momentary fits of laughter at birthday parties, zoos, and little league games – but these anecdotal stories have yet to be substantiated with empirical evidence.

One of the most common ailments afflicting people with K.I.D.S. is a perceived loss of control, independence and spontaneity. They often report feeling chained to endless cycles of vehicular transport to soccer games, piano recitals, and doctor’s appointments, taking the place of time previously used for hiking with friends, playing tennis, and working out at the gym. As a result of this hard-to-break cycle, another common side effect of K.I.D.S. is unsightly weight gain and a marked decline in concern for personal appearance.

It is common for people with advanced stages of K.I.D.S. to experience wild swings of emotion and increased levels of stress. If you encounter an otherwise rational adult barking out phrases like who do you think paid for that? or would it kill you to say, ‘thank you?’ or because I said so!, the chances are high the person is battling K.I.D.S. There are many reports of K.I.D.S. wiping out a couple’s entire long-term savings. Some studies suggestion that this steep decline in personal net worth is most severe for people who have been struggling with K.I.D.S. for 18 to 22 years.

The good news is that there are glimmers of hope. For some people facing an uphill struggle with K.I.D.S., symptoms of frustration and exhaustion tend to fade about the time when the financial strain of managing K.I.D.S. has passed its peak. There are dozens of documented cases where victims of K.I.D.S. can resume relatively normal lives somewhere around 18 years from the onset of the condition, engaging in conversations about politics or professional sports teams or taking long drives that no longer require emergency pit stops to eliminate bodily fluids.

Theories abound as to the primary cause of an incurable condition suffered by adults called Kronic Incessant Disorder Syndrome (KIDS), but a recent study suggests prolonged exposure to rainbow-colored aliens with annoying, chirpy voices may be a contributor.

Theories abound as to the primary cause of an incurable condition suffered by adults called Kronic Incessant Disorder Syndrome (KIDS), but a recent study suggests prolonged exposure to rainbow-colored aliens with annoying, chirpy voices may be a contributor.

While there are several effective methods for the prevention of K.I.D.S., currently there is no cure. The unsettling reality is that the existence of K.I.D.S. has become a global epidemic. Ever since my wife and I first received the shocking diagnosis more than two decades ago that we had both become exposed to K.I.D.S., our lives have been consumed just trying to manage this condition.

But here is the oddest part about this chronically overwhelming, exhausting condition. Even though coming down with K.I.D.S. has radically turned my life upside down, drained my life savings and caused me endless sleepless nights, I can’t help but wonder what my life would have been like if I had never gotten K.I.D.S. It’s one lifelong condition for which I hope they never find a cure.

That’s the view from the bleachers. Perhaps I’m off base. 

PS: If you enjoyed this week’s post, let me know by posting a comment, giving it a Like or sharing this post on Facebook.

Check out my latest humor book: YOU’RE GROUNDED FOR LIFE: Misguided Parenting Strategies That Sounded Good at the Time

© Tim Jones, View from the Bleachers 2020

Signs My Daughter Loves Me

Signs My Daughter Loves Me

signs-my-daughter-loves-me-cartoonIf you’re a parent like me – or even if you’re a parent who’s not like me – at some point you’ve probably asked yourself, “Why on earth did I ever have kids?” In my case, I blame my wife.

For years, I found that same question popping into my head – roughly every four minutes – as I would endure one battle after another with my rebellious younger daughter for household supremacy. I fondly recall that satisfying period when I was in charge and my word was law. But then she turned two.

Parenting is exhausting, with long stretches during which you wonder if your children will ever show you a glimmer of respect or affection – and by “long stretches” I mean from age two to whatever age they currently are. If you’re feeling anxious that perhaps your child doesn’t love you, despite all the hard work and sacrifices you’ve made, it’s understandable. But there is hope she’ll get through her awkward, narcissistic phase, and the day will come when she shows you her devotion. Admittedly, when I say “there is hope”, I mean in the way that there’s hope my Seattle Mariners may someday make it to the World Series, or how astronomers hope someday they may find intelligent life elsewhere in the universe.

The signs are obvious if you just know where to look. Here’s how I know my daughter loves me:

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Is your own teenage daughter evil? Take this quiz to find out (Part two of a two-part post)

Is your own teenage daughter evil? Take this quiz to find out (Part two of a two-part post)

evil teenager - girl with red hair In my previous post, I posited the breakthrough theory that at one time or another all teenage girls become evil.

Based on rigorous field research (comprised mostly of renting the movie Mean Girls) I have concluded there are several cities that apparently have city ordinances requiring girls to turn evil (or at least seriously bitchy) by the time they reach puberty. This ordinance clearly is in effect in Beverly Hills, Orange County, Palm Beach, Florida, the Hamptons, and oddly enough, Omaha, Nebraska*. (I know, that last one surprised me too.)

Now, you may still say, “Evil”? Really? Isn’t that a bit of a stretch?” Well, I don’t mean evil in the “sociopath stalker kills five, kicks puppy” sense of the word. No, I mean evil more in the “You just don’t like him because he has a purple Mohawk, a tattoo of a king cobra on his neck and a chain that runs from his ear to his nose. You’re so judgmental. I hate my life!!” sort of way. You know, the she-doesn’t-have-time-to-take-the-3-extra-seconds-it-would-require-to-pick-up-her-bowl-of-half-eaten-ice-cream-that-she-left-on-our-expensive-leather-couch-for-the-fifth-time-this-week-so-the-cat-finally-knocked-it-over-leaving-a-six-inch-stain-of-Rocky-Road-that-will-never-come-out sense. That sort of evil.

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