We Do Not Have Children, and That’s OK

Shouldn't actively wanting a child be the prerequisite for having one?

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When I tell people my wife and I have two dogs, they tell me that dogs are just the step before children. And I tell them they must be terrible parents to get those two things confused.

Dogs and children are very different. Dogs, for example, are much smarter than children.

Here’s irrefutable proof that our dogs are smarter than your children. We own a home, yet we don’t own any outlet covers. Not one. Our dogs are very curious, yet they have never tried to stick a paw in an outlet. A child will stick his hand in an outlet, get shocked and then go get a fork to try again. 

Kids love anything that could potentially be fatal. As I understand it, most of a parent’s job is running around after their child saying, “live, live, live, live, live.” If there was an after-school program where children could try extremely dangerous activities all day, it would be full immediately. And then empty a week later, because kids are phenomenal at hurting themselves.

I once left a bag of dog treats on my coffee table. One of our dogs found it and ate the treats, and didn’t try to wear the bag as a space helmet. Because he’s good at being alive. You might say it’s because our dog has no imagination. I’d bet anything he was imagining more treats in the bag.

Dogs are so much smarter than children. There has never been a seeing-eye-kid. Because dogs have the capacity to be trained. 

[Read: Dolphin Parenting: Raising Kids to Be Smart and Happy.]

Bea Arthur, left, and Mitch Hedberg.
Bea Arthur, left, and Mitch Hedberg.

As I write this, our dogs are home alone, and I’m not worried at all. Not even remotely. The TV isn’t on, and there’s no video-game system to distract them. They don’t even have iPhones. Our dogs are comfortable just taking a long nap until I get home. One of them is only 4-years-old. And he’s already figured it out.

Before the parents reading this riot in the streets (which, as a parent, would be incredibly irresponsible), let me make the root of my jokes clear. We are not anti-child or anti-parent. I love kids. I spent the better part of my teenage years as a babysitter. I say better part because the rest of my teenage years were spent lamenting being alone on a Saturday night. It was much more fun to babysit.

My mother is a nursery school director, and I have been around children since I was their colleague. My whole life, I’ve been told I was good with kids. Well, not my whole life. I wasn’t particularly good with them when I was one of them. Perhaps that’s what led to my date-less weekends. 

I began babysitting when I was 11. I don’t know what adult would trust an 11-year-old with their child, but hey, it worked out. I have held two different teaching internships. And my niece and nephew freaking love me. (Back atcha, kiddos).

Unfortunately, reasons like that are why people erroneously tell me I would make a great father. 

The people who recite such silliness fail to consider the entire equation. Considering entire equations is yet another reason I had date-less weekends. 

Yes, I am good with kids. I’m also a standup comedian who tours 30 weeks a year. How big of a jerk would I have to be to tell my wife, “Hey, you know how you say I leave you alone all the time? What if instead of being alone, you were swimming in stress, cleaning up after a screaming, pooping child I barely saw? Oh, don’t worry about sleeping alone, either. You won’t be sleeping for the next seven to 10 years.”

[Read: 7 Reasons Kids Should Not Be Juice Cleansing.]

Yes, we are toward the top of the 99 percent. But that doesn’t mean we can spare the $442,697.85 college is estimated to cost in 18 years. That’s a ridiculous amount of money. Maybe we can just pay $500 for our unborn son to take a contractor’s class, then he can build a house and sell it to pay for his own tuition. Or we could pay $500 for our unborn daughter. Any one of our fictional children can grow up to be whatever they want. Or whatever I want, because they’re fiction. 

Yes, I love the kids in my life. But I don’t actively want a child. Shouldn’t that be the prerequisite for having one? If I really wanted a new car, I’d be thrilled if I had one. But if I had no desire for the car, I’d probably just leave it alone in our garage. Which is extremely illegal to do with a kid. Our dogs, incidentally, love being alone in our garage. It’s where we keep the dog food.

Actually, I’ve thought about having kids for the same reason I bought my car. I drive a fuel-efficient vehicle to counteract one gas-guzzler on the road. But my car came with an MPG sticker on its window. How do I know if I really will be a good father? What if I try my best, and fail? I might accidentally raise a kid so obnoxious that he eventually pesters people about why they don’t have kids. I wouldn’t be able to live with myself.

One hundred years ago, everyone needed to have children just to help the species survive. But humans are doing fine now. You’ll never see a whale wearing a T-shirt that says “save the humans.” Unless the back says “for dessert.” (New business plan: T-shirts for whales.) 

Humans also needed to have children to help us survive individually. The first few years of your child’s life was an investment in your own survival. They’d eventually get old enough to till your fields. That makes sense if you’re a farmer. But if you’re the manager at a Best Buy, you don’t need to repopulate the company softball team all by your lonesome. 

[Read: How to Be a Better Example for Your Kids.]

We may eventually have children. Life is fluid, and our financial and emotional positions may change. But we do not want to have kids until we’re ready, and I will argue that as the responsible position until I am bluer than that whale who bought my t-shirt. 

I know you’re never truly ready for it. You’re also never truly ready for the SATs, but I prepared as much as possible and aced those. Yet another reason I had date-less weekends. 

Until then, we are very happy with our dogs. Dogs have short lives, and we’re doing everything we can to make those lives wonderful. I know that, while they love us right now, we’ve only got 10 to 15 years of that joy before we will spend the future missing what we used to have. 

Maybe children and dogs are similar after all.