Photo: Jade Brookbank
Babies! Lots of people are having them. It's how the human race survives! But just in case you're one of those strange people who's inexplicably opposed to the idea or doesn't want to "give up your life" – if you can even call your sorry, childless existence a "life" – allow me to point out all the reasons why having children is a wonderful thing to do.
You have complete power over them!
As a parent, you have as much absolute power as Kim Jong-Un, without the nuclear arsenal or unlikely friendship with Dennis Rodman. When they're newborn, babies are more portable than most dogs, and will just lie there in a pram or bassinet. Plus, unlike dogs, you can take them to fancy restaurants and just park them on the floor. Not only are they powerless to object, but they don't even have the capacity to articulate an objection.
As they grow up and begin arguing back, you can impose whatever punishments you like. Grounding, limiting television, even imposing a diet of gruel, Oliver Twist-style – all these potential punishments are open to you, and there's no court of appeal besides the other partner. (Or, in certain cases, DOCS – do bear that in mind.)
It's also good to be aware that you'll pay for this later when they're teenagers, and won't do a single thing that you say, even if it's entirely reasonable and clearly in their best interests.
You'll never be stuck for something to do!
You know those days when you wake up with nothing planned, and spend half the morning wondering how on earth to fill the acres of time? That feeling of wasting the day will soon be a distant memory after your first child emerges from the womb. Instead, you'll have a busy schedule of ferrying your children around to birthday parties, sports commitments and visits to zoos, museums, parks and the beach.
If you should find yourself not doing this at any point during a weekend or holiday, your child will soon set things straight by whining at you until you drive them to the stupid shopping mall to see some stupid movie at the stupid multiplex, or whatever.
The universal rule of parenting is that the only time parents ever get to themselves is during brief periods of slacking off at work, and at night after the kids have gone to bed, when you get to sit at the kitchen table and catch up on your overdue tax return.
Even those times can be interrupted at any moment by a sick or worried child – so don't ever tell yourself you can relax. If this ever makes you feel a little trapped and overwhelmed, don't worry – your kids will move out of home eventually, and shortly afterwards expect you to take care of their grandchildren.
You can buy stuff "for them" that's actually for yourself!
Bigger houses, better ("safer") cars, in-ground pools, expensive holidays, video game consoles – just about any purchase you desire for sheer materialism's sake can be justified as being "for the kids". As long as there's some benefit your children can share, you'll seem like a wonderful provider instead of a selfish hoarder.
Unfortunately, children are infernally expensive to begin with, and soon begin constantly demanding that you spend money on them, so you're unlikely to have any spare discretionary income to devote to these kinds of purchases. But it's nice to know that you could blow your cash guilt-free if you ever did have any.
You get constant, adoring companionship!
Your children will celebrate openly whenever you come home, and will be absolutely desperate to play games with you – games that you haven't been able to enjoy since you were a kid yourself.
What's more, for the first decade of their life, you'll get to beat them every single time, whether it's at chess, tenpin bowling or bareknuckle combat. Even if you were always mediocre at cricket in your schooldays, you'll have no difficulty removing your six-year-old's middle stump with a full-paced yorker.
Plus, spending time with your children will allow you to enjoy entertainment that's normally frowned on for grown-ups, like the Muppets and Pixar movies. The only drawback is that you will also be forced to watch Dora the Explorer.
This joy of simple companionship will come to an abrupt end in your child's teens, when you will suddenly embarrass them more than anyone else on the face of the earth, but until then, it'll be great.
You'll never be stuck for small talk again!
Have you ever wondered what to say to a taxi driver, or bartender, or dull colleague with whom you're trapped in the lift? When you have kids, you'll never need to talk about the weather again! Just embark on lengthy updates about your child's mental and physical development, subtly intended to suggest that your kids are better than those of the person you're talking to, and that you are therefore also a better parent and person.
If the person you're talking to doesn't have children, don't let that dissuade you – just adopt a pitying facial expression and keep talking about your kids anyway.
The freedom of being stuck for conversation will also apply when you have lengthy discussions with your child about things like dinosaurs and Bob the Builder and minor orcs from Lord of the Rings and how their friends' parents let their kids do things that you won't let them do.
You'll find that your kids ask questions constantly, as though you're some kind of walking Wikipedia. The best way to deal with this is by giving them false information for fun. For instance, tell them that Alice Springs got its name because of a girl called Alice who had wonderboots with giant springs on the soles that let her bounce high in the air.
You'll be able to miss any social occasion you like!
Whether it's a potentially lame party, a tedious family function or an embarrassing school reunion, children give you a permanent get-out-of-lame-social-events-free card.
Your dorky colleague will completely understand why you couldn't turn up to his barbecue when you tell him your kids were sick. After all, who wouldn't prefer eating lukewarm sausages and drinking warm beer in an all-concrete backyard to caring for vomiting kids? Well, you, since it gives you the chance to catch up on the latest episodes of Game of Thrones while occasionally pausing to give your kids a glass of flat lemonade.
Conversely, there will be times when your kids are genuinely sick and prevent you from going to social events that you did want to attend. And they'll bring germs home from the petri dish of infection that every educational institution in the country is, and make you horribly sick too. But then again, this question of going to social events is entirely academic to begin with, because wrangling kids will leave you too tired to ever leave the house in the first place.
You'll experience the joy of narcissism!
Remember how Austin Powers' nemesis Dr Evil created a “Mini-Me”? Well, that's exactly what you're doing! Your child will resemble you more than anyone else on the face of the earth ever could, unless of course you have a twin. You'll constantly be thinking, "Oh, that's exactly what I do!" and when you look them in the eye, you'll see yourself looking back in miniature.
This ego-gratifying similarity begins very early in life – as your newborn lies there and drools incoherently, they'll remind you of yourself at the end of the office Christmas party.
This similarity is why most people find it easier to be nice to their family than anyone else – it's almost like being nice to yourself. And the wonderful thing is, when your offspring succeeds, it'll be almost as though you succeeded, which is why stage parents become so obsessive.
This simple fact of genetics will also mean that the flaws you find most problematic about yourself will probably be replicated in them as a constant reminder of your own inadequacy. And you won't even be able to object, because they'll say – but dad, you pick your nose too.
There's also a chance of your offspring will instead overwhelmingly resemble the other parent, which can be lovely except if the relationship breaks down, in which case it's a constant painful reminder of your ex.
This piece is dedicated to my newborn niece, who I'm sure will be a delightful exception to any minor downside of parenting mentioned above.