Part two in a three-part series on why families should not have more than one child.
And here's the second reason I'm glad I had an only child: I want her to know the real me.
I've often quoted my late pal Ed Reardon—father of four—who told me there is no such thing as parenting. Your kids just watch you for 18 years, he said. If you're good, that's good. If you're bad, that's bad.
Well if that's true, and I believe it is, then I want the person my kids to see to be me, and not a logistics-obsessed, vacation-sacrificing, money-panicked, bank-robbing, overwhelmed, friendless, humorless, exhausted Parent Person.
Because we have been so selfish as to have only Scout, she sees us at play. I often take her golfing with me and while I putt, she collects acorns and chases catch dragon flies. That works with one kid, not with two—as does an afternoon of kicking around town with Mom. Because we have been so selfish, she sees me write, watches us read. She sees us sleep and work out and cook big meals and drink beer on the porch with neighbors and visitors from out of town. She watches me ride off on adventures on my motorcycle and she watches her mother utterly relax with her family in Des Moines. Because I have been so selfish, she has been to many places that we could not have afforded to take two or more kids, and she'll see many more—and she'll see us enjoying those places and living life in much the same way as we lived it before she came along, and will live it when she is out of the house.
Obviously, I'm drawing a caracture of parents of two kids, but the caricature is based on an observation that, if you have two kids you might as well have five. And if you have more than two kids, as a friend put it, "Now you're playing zone."
And I'm also I'm glorifying the wonders of these wonderful lives Cristie and I lead. Hemingway and Gelhorn we're not. But Cristie and Dave, we still definitely are.
Meet me back here tomorrow, when I argue that, in families of multiple kids, the squeaky wheel gets the grease—but every wheel needs the grease!