Sometime this afternoon, the conversation turned to kids. Not just kids kids, mind you, but real live in-the-flesh kind of children, the ones who constantly bump into your knees and marvel at how much taller you are than them.
I don't have such a good record with kids. Personally, I do like them (particularly with a little barbecue sauce and some grated cheese), but they don't seem to like me for some reason. It might be because the voice scares them, or it could be because my eyebrows give them nightmares. Whatever the case, I'm okay with kids, and the real question is whether or not they're okay with me.
For these occasions, I carry around a nice "children" anecdote. I won't tell it now because it loses something in the writing, but suffice to say that it involved a one-year-old child and a Snoopy doll. Said incident, by the way, ended with the head of said Snoopy doll being thrown in my general direction... and that confession alone should give you an idea of how I am with kids.
Despite the anecdote, however, someone dared to throw the question over to my side of the table: "So what about you, Sean? How many kids would you want to have?"
I figured that the "barbecue-sauce-and-grated-cheese" comment would have gotten me run out of town at that point, so I threw back the only response I could think of:
"That is," my friend said, "if you want to have kids. Do you want to have kids?"
I thought for a moment. This was an interesting question, if only because I hadn't quite thought about it yet. I'm still a young man, after all. I'm not exactly about to shackle mysel... er, settle down to family life just yet.
"Well... yeah," I said. "I'd like to have kids someday. I mean, it'll probably be a while by the time I have them, but I wouldn't mind the wait.
"Thinking about it a little further, I'd say that two or three of them would be nice. The issue when you have only one child is that he or she usually has nobody to play with, which puts some undue pressure on either the parents or any outside friends. Having two kids would probably resolve this, but then you get the question of an elder/younger relationship, and I'm not sure how healthy that would be.
"So if it's possible, I'd rather have three kids. That would raise the possible conflict of an elder-middle-younger relationship, but I figure that the internal dynamics would balance it out — you can have a majority clique at any point, I imagine. That, and the middle child would inevitably be a bridge or a mediator between the other two.
"The only question that remains, I think, is the matter of age. I'd prefer the kids to be spaced about two or three years apart, so that they can share knowledge and contacts within similar generations. It takes quite a bit of pressure off the other factors, I think, when their constant contact with each other helps ensure that the older ones can literally help train and educate the younger ones. I find that siblings usually tend to take different paths in life, so three children would probably imply different interests and specializations of some sort.
"I'll throw the question back, by the way," I said. "What do you think?"
This brought some silence over the table for a few minutes.
"I think," my friend finally said, "I'd like three kids."
"Any reason why?"
"Uh... no. I'd just like three kids."
And somewhere in the world, a mother is asking her child about a decapitated Snoopy doll.