My days as someone without children – a conscientious objector and frequent scorner of those who, having gone forth, multiplied – are numbered.
Yes, while the afternoons may be lengthening as spring hints at arrival, shorter grows the time until I must man-up and enter a world of pungent nappies and the hell therein. By the end of April, if someone asks me, "Who's the Daddy?", I should be able to channel my sub-conscious Ray Winstone in Scum and tell them. Without, hopefully, having to punctuate my soliloquy using swear words and a sock full of snooker balls.
And while we're on the subject of thwacks to the jaw, judging by the financial hit my wife and I are about to take, we should have started saving for our pink, screaming poop machine about a decade ago – certainly, long before we decided to do what ladies and gentlemen in love have been doing since, well, Biblical times. For it is written.
The latest available figures, provided by the serious-sounding Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR), suggest that the cost of having and raising a child, up to and including their beer and sex-fest while "studying" at university, is £5,000 more this year than it was last, with the overall total now scaling the towering peak of £227,266. Which, aside from being a genuinely specific amount of money, is also fantastically large. Does it frighten you? Because it scares the crap out of me.
According to the CEBR, 28 per cent of our household income will be spent on our imminent son. That is a hell of a lot of Haribo and military-based action toys. Interestingly, the largest slice – £73,803 – will go on education, and childcare will add another £66,113.
So, let me get this straight – the biggest expenses by far are when your children are not even in the same room as you? If I'm understanding this right, parents only ever really start throwing money at a problem if it means they will be granted a few hours' respite from their offspring? Genius.
Actually, it reminds me of a comment made by the actress Michelle Pfeiffer, who, along with her husband, the Ally McBeal writer/producer David E Kelley, raised and paid for two kids, Claudia and John. Showing the kind of girl-next-door sense that has endeared her to movie fans, Michelle said: "Like all parents, my husband and I just do the best we can and hold our breath and hope we've saved enough to pay for our kids' therapy."
Therapy?! Now listen: I'm happy to cough up for food and Pampers and more Pampers and factory-strength carpet cleaner, but since when was it commanded that I had to pay for the kid's mental problems? Listen, Junior: I'll feed you, clothe you, protect you and tell you stories at bedtime, but when it comes to analysis of your father issues, you're on your own, pal.
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