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Where Babies Come From

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Doting dad Peter Sherwood takes a satirical swipe at parenthood and questions our irresistible urge to procreate

A recent BBC headline – Remarkable Decline in Fertility – suggested zero population growth in some countries. So, what’s the problem? It led me to scribble an admission of things I know little about.

Decades writing esoteric nonsense proves the less I know the easier it gets. Profound insights into a subject only complicate and confuse. So, it is with procreation, a bank-busting practice I’ve managed to avoid, and for which the benefactors (my two adopted kids) of what is hilariously called my ‘estate,’ should be thankful. They’ll get a bigger share of the loot, although half of not much is not a lot.

Social scientists observe that exactly 100% of all serious romantic relationships before marriage are doomed. (I didn’t need research nerds to tell me that.) After marriage, at least 50% are headed for the scrapheap. In other words, the chance of a successful lifelong partnership is right up there with a trifecta on the 2.30 at Happy Valley. But still we
make babies.

Given the cosmic randomness of what Mother Nature does when unleashed, had I reproduced I’d be no more enlightened. Babies are born, the mist of romance dissolves, and then She ceases to give a damn. You’re on your own.

Producing offspring may not be intellectually demanding, but judging by the huge numbers of new-borns one has to wonder if some parents are even certain of the cause. Seems it works like this: The human brain goes to mush (and mine has often been soggier than most) via a powerful chemical reaction called, scientifically, ‘the
fragrant cloud of heavenly delight.’ Without this irrational biological rush, we would look too ridiculous to each other for any meaningful entanglement of ‘love’ to eventuate.

Of course, some people know precisely what causes kids and carry on anyway, driven by an apparent implacable algorithm.

My pathetic excuse for resisting the temptation is that more homo sapiens in my image would be intolerable. It’s hard enough looking in the mirror shaving.

But I do love the little twerps, especially my own. The problem is they don’t stay little. They can eat an entire supermarket shelf of Coco-Pops in one sitting and cost billions to
educate. And when they hit early teens an obnoxious streak tends to emerge; it’s the Great Mother’s way of making sure we don’t miss them when they leave the nest. Meanwhile we sit at home cringing as they race off with high-octane enthusiasm to engage in every dumb act we remember doing with horror and regret.

In its infinite quest for replication of the species, nature doesn’t make us go all gooey and sentimental to produce a cantankerous two-year-old. She’s smarter than that, demanding a bubbly little baby to fuss over. So potent is the love cloud, we’re blinded to any possibility that said baby might become a spotty teen, anxious to let us know how stupid we are. Later they begin thinking maybe we weren’t such imbeciles after all – before admitting, in our dotage, they were right the first time.

Peter Sherwood has lived in DB for over 20 years. The former head of an international public relations firm, Peter is the author of 15 books and has written around 400 satirical columns for the South China Morning Post.

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