By Jeremy Dys
By some standards – contemporary and historic – I do not have a very big family. By others, evidently my wife and I are freaks of a side-show nature, two denim jumpers away from being featured on a TLC reality show.
Whenever my family of six – myself, my wife, and four lovely children – venture into public, it seems almost inevitable that we will meet with some chucklehead that senses the need to raise eyebrows and turn a phrase of infallible wisdom to the effect:
“Four kids! My, you have your hands full!”
“Don’t you know what causes that?”
“How do you manage? And you homeschool all of them! Mercy!”
Or, they simply walk away aghast and nearly depressed as if they have witnessed something so unfathomable from which there is no short mental recovery.
My wife is very sweet. She has perfected her response. With genuine politeness, she winsomely remarks, “No, my hands aren’t full, my heart is.” Ooo’s and ahh’s abound.
I, on the other hand, am a tad less sweet and more sarcastic by nature. Then again, maybe I’m remarkably restrained. When the, “Don’t you know what causes that (wink, wink)” comment is thrown out by a complete stranger, I do not respond with my initial thought, which is some form of, “That’s none of your crummy business you cotton-headed ninnymuggins” and a roundhouse kick to the skull.
Instead, I usualy opt for a less felonious response and laugh off the impertinence with a, “Yep, I just discovered that I liked it. Don’t you?” That pretty well ends the conversation.
These public experiences of great awkwardness have made me ponder why any of us experience them. We have 4 kids, not 40. Is it really that outstanding that we have 2.5 more than the national average? Maybe it is.
The reason this question is so remarkable is that our society does not like kids.
Oh, we put up with them. We coo and giggle when one is “wanted,” but the prevailing notion promoted by the progressive elite is that children are a burden, a drain, and a threat to overpopulation. If they are had, they should be born in moderation and on planned terms of parenting. Once born, parents are encouraged to spend as little time with them as possible, shipping them off to the closest government school or agency of care for as much of the day as possible. Broadly, if kids are good for anything, society posits, they are good for our living vicariously through, creating fond memories with, and providing a worker base to sustain our retirement.
If warm-fuzzies and a tax base is what we are after, I submit we can probably do as well with well-trained puppies over children.
But we should not. We most adamently should not. Ours is a duty of fruitfulness and increase. We are called to walk by the way with children, not just assuring their safe passage to adulthood, but coming alongside of them to train them in the way in which they ought to walk. That is less a duty and more a privilege when the weight of that responsibility is once thoroughly appreciated.
Children are not a burden. They may, at times, be inconvenient and, assuredly, worthy of a great amount of hair-pulling and expense, but they are a blessing, a rich trove of familial love that carries forward ideas and ideology from history to the future.
So, I dare you: invite the question. Be the odd family that gets the askance look at the supermarket as you tow along your subsequent generation to pick up that gallon of milk they’ll drink by Noon tomorrow. By all means, be different and showcase to the world just how wonderful different is.
Then, invite them to join you in the brilliantly frustrating joy that is parenthood.
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