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A few excellent things have happened recently. I finally lost 0.0003kg (the equivalent of an ant’s stomach lining), I managed to do a talk to clever schoolgirls without swearing, the Olympics ended (and with it the unsavoury practice of athletes biting their medals), and I didn’t go to the Baba Indaba.
There are many reasons why I didn’t attend the sprog fest. First, I would have caused a Mexican wail as I moved through the crowd (my ability to make babies cry when I am near them is the main reason I didn’t go into politics). Second, I don’t have kids. Third, even if I had kids, I would rather be force-fed gripe water smoothies than attend the Baba Indaba.
While many a martyr mama would have swanned around the expo wearing a beatific smile and a quasi ethnic sling containing a drooling Smeagles, what they might not have realised was the disservice they were doing to society.
Fact: there are too many people in the world already. Yes, your Chloe/Noah/Luka might be a thing of great beauty, able to touch his or her toes and pass well-formed stools, but the reality is that by merely existing, your Chloe/Noah/Luka is contributing to the demise of our planet.
Fact: babies are not properly formed humans. They can’t speak, don’t know the words to Bridesmaids, are rubbish at riding bicycles, can’t hold their liquor and just go in their pants. So why, then, do modern parents insist on bringing them to dinner parties?
This is how my invitations to friends-with-babies go: “Hi, xxxxxx. Would you guys like to come to dinner on Friday? Like, just you and xxxxxx, not that small snaily thing that clings to you and smacks the table with the salt cellar? Yes, right, the baby.”
When we were kids, the adult world was off-limits. When my parents went to dinner parties, where they would dance to Barry Manilow, eat coronation chicken and eventually smell like tramps, we four kids had to stay in the back of the Peugeot. We’d have competitions to see who could say “Luke, I am your father” while burping and, invariably, one of us would end up crying.
Now, you get the Baba Indaba selling devices aimed at including babies in the real world. Take the Everchair, for example. It’s designed to be brought up to table height so the baby can eat with the rest of the family, and share in conversations about the merits of a decentralised government and whether Homeland is better than The Killing. Not.
Then there are online monitors with attached cameras so you can sit at work and watch your darlingangelsnookum poke its fingers in plugs and pull bits of sock out of the dog’s bottom. Add to that off-road prams that ensure you spend every waking moment with your child – even when you’re dying of frostbite atop Kilimanjaro – and bicycles such as the Early Rider, which allow babies to become Lance Armstrongs from day 15, and these dummy clones are just like smartphones. They’re mobile, connected, addictive and have horrible ring tones.
Harsh as it may sound, many of us don’t want babies to be integrated into society. We don’t find them as cute as you do. We don’t coo at them in the Woolies queue.
We don’t find it adorable when they stick their fingers into the maki at the sushi bar. We don’t want to wade through 100 prams in order to buy artichokes at a market. And, no, we do not want to hold them.
We’d prefer them to stay at home with babysitters, trapped in high chairs and coated in butternut.
Similarly, many of us have little sympathy for new mothers who moan about not getting enough sleep, being exhausted all the time, smelling of maas and having nipples like chewed pencil ends. To you, we say: “That’s why the Durex gods invented condoms! And why the rhythm method is as reliable as the Post Office!”
You chose it, honey, so suck it up.
Anyway, what were you thinking? That you’d be blessed with a miracle baby who’d sleep 12 hours a night and fetch your slippers? That your month-old rosebud would learn to pee outside and pass out after a run? That your bundle of joy would stop crying the minute you clicked your fingers?
Then you should have got a dog.