Whose children are really the future?

By Rafiek Mammon

Okay, so the petrol, I believe, is going up again – so what else is new? Corruption is rife. Stoning of cars on the N2. I remember a time when getting stoned on the N2 meant something quite different. But that’s not for here. A new casino, I believe, is also on the cards for the city. Yeah, that is exactly what we need – another place for our already unhappy citizens to throw away their hard-earned cash. And some of them say it is their way to “relax” and “unwind”. Yeah right! Corruption is still rife.

Children are burning their schools down – so what else is new? Sometimes I wonder – when did the old South Africa sneak back into the picture? Honestly, what was the fighting all about? Did the grass really only look greener on the other side? Unhappy people living unhappy lives, seems to be the state of the nation. Oh yes, did I mention corruption is rife? Or, am I merely listening to the radio, watching TV news, and reading the newspapers too often?

I spoke to a friend about this (well, not really this in so many words; it was more a personal story of a friend of her’s, someone I also know as an acquaintance) on the phone, and she and I agreed – there are just too many people who are seriously unhappy about getting up in the morning to go to their humdrum jobs.
She cited the example of this friend of her’s I mentioned earlier who used to be such a jovial fellow and now, with the addition of a baby to his recent marriage and being unhappy to the hilt in his job, makes his life a misery. For him, it has now become all about long hours at the office, doing something he hardly enjoys and for which, according to him, he gets paid far too little. Then, he goes home not to relax, like most of us do, but to tackle his second job – he moonlights as a father, remember?

Nowadays, he can no longer change jobs as he wishes (or be unemployed for a month or three before tackling a newer, more exciting job) and be okay with eating peanut butter and bread for breakfast. He has to hold on to his current job to pay the bills that he also now finds are remarkably more. Duh!
Then we spoke (mostly with tongues in cheeks) about why people have this need to have children. Why indeed? Is it a security thing?

Like a policy that they’re taking out for their future when they become old folk and the child must then look after them? Is it an ego thing? Is it to catapult themselves into adulthood or to finally discard of their “wayward ways” as a reckless youngster and embrace the responsibilities of maturity by unconditionally caring for another human being? This, one can also do with a few plants and a pet animal, surely. Do they believe that this renewed responsibility means “getting it right” (even though the failure rate is palpable in this neck of the woods?) Is it to sow your oats for the male of the clan, and broodiness for the female? Is it the “natural” order of things? I eat, I sleep, I pee, I make children? I saw, I came, I conquer (sic). Is it a selfish thing? Is it to save a relationship/marriage, perhaps? For these and other interesting ponderings, stay tuned…

Is it perhaps less of a “natural” phenomenon, and more of a societal one? That we are raised to become a dad and a mom someday because that “is what we do” as a genus? And if I don’t become a parent, the rest of the species shall shun me? Or, they will think there is something wrong with me?
I spoke to her about a married couple I know who are now furiously “trying” to fall pregnant. They are working hard on it, in fact. They have been married for several years, and there seems to be a problem in the “making of more human beings” department. And, I believe this “working at it” is not as easy (or even pleasurable) for them as it is for most people who make people. Perhaps they were never meant to have children? Ever thought of that? Full stop.