He’s a good boy really, your Honour

I HAVE some advice.

If you’re going to have children — or if you’ve had them already — have the first one put down.

Most vets will do it for about $50, I believe, and it’s worth the expense.

Don’t get me wrong. I have a first child and he’s very nice. I can hear myself standing in court one day saying: “He’s a good boy really, your Honour.”

And, of course, he is. Underneath.

The problem is that if you have the first one put down there’s a possibility the second one will become the first one and you’ll end up charged with infanticide and no children at all, which might be a Good Thing.

The thing is… we practise on the first child. They are the prototype. We give them wings in much the same way as you fold a paper aeroplane, we bend their little noses into shape, and launch them out the upstairs window — from which they plummet groundwards, turning up at the front door at 3am with their noses broken and bloody.

Theirs, or someone else’s.

And the trouble is… it’s not their fault. But for God’s sake never tell them that. They are difficult enough at the best of times without them believing they’re right as well.

I mean, most of us have our first kids when we’re in our 20s; when we join peace movements and environmental groups and vote for the Greens. What on earth would we know about raising a child.

Maybe you imagine 25 years, say, is a lot of experience. But it’s only 300 months! What does anyone know after 300 months! Certainly not enough to raise a child.

But we jump right in and do it anyway. Those of you who have got as far as number four will know, secretly, that they get progressively easier to raise. That is, it becomes progressively too much trouble to go to all the fuss we used to with the first one.

It’s not that the first one is the only one who is going to grow up to be a skinhead and live on the dole and get the girlfriend pregnant. It’s just that it seems more important the first time it happens.

By the time the fourth one is one the dole you begin to think they know more than you do and you wonder why you haven’t joined them.

And the first one is the only one, unless it’s a multiple birth, that can ever lose 100 per cent of its parents’ attention. For a year or two everything it does is cute (even in its nappy) and everything it says is hilarious.

Then along comes number two. The first kid isn’t only the only one that can lose 100 per cent of its parents’ attention. It’s the only one that can have it slashed in half. When the third one turns up the others only lose a third, and so on.

This is important. If we could absorb this simple truth and buy a family of orangutans at the same time we gave birth I’m sure we’d all be more normal.

Or every couple could have a 100 children. And there might be a chance that, by the time you reached number 98, you’d produce something reasonably well-balanced.

It’s no wonder the world’s a mess. It’s being run by children.

Not children now, of course. But people who were children once. Eldest children who were made to share after two years of having it all their own way.

Youngest children who were never allowed – by any other member of the family – to grow up.

Middle children who just learned to accept that they didn’t exist in any meaningful terms except as a medium through which to pass old clothes.

How can they possibly get it right!

Just imagine what would happen if they ever got to be parents…