Why your expensive child is the biggest bargain on earth
By Nury Vittachi
It costs the same to raise a child in any particular city as it does to buy a nice three-bedroom house in the same place, researchers have found.
Well, think about it: school fees, uniform, books, shoes, bus fees, music lessons, teacher bribes, new set of keys when junior flushes yours down the toilet, new suit when junior vomits over your tuxedo, new house when junior burns it down, new car when junior commandeers yours to drive himself and the other four-year-olds to Toys R Us, etc.
“Few of us bother to get out a calculator... if we did, the human race would have died out,” Maureen Rice, a UK researcher who wrote a report called The Parent Trap, told reporters.
Boffins reckon raising a yuppie kid is roughly the same as buying a three-bedroom middle-class dwelling: HK$5 million in Hong Kong, 250,000 pounds in London, and in a typical American city, about US$350,000.
The difference is that when you spend that much on a property, you know about it. When you spend the same amount on junior, it disappears invisibly in tiny bills for Hello Kitty erasers.
Some parents argue that it’s cheaper to have lots of kids, but I tried this argument at my local school, and they just laughed. There’s no discount for bulk. Nor does it work at McDonald’s.
So why do we have children? To answer that question, I worked out exactly how much a child cost from birth to university. It came to about US$3 an hour. Now think what your child gives you for three bucks.
You get an excuse to build sandcastles on the beach.
You get someone to hold your hand every time you go out.
You get the most beautifully decorated fridge in the world.
You get a cast-iron excuse to watch The Jungle Book and The Lion King.
You get to acquire patience to a degree you never thought possible.
You get a reason to go to playgrounds, parks and Disneyland.
You get the world’s funniest comedian, in residence at your home, on call 24 hours a day.
You get a way to recapture the magic of Christmas and similar holidays.
Dad, you get to be the strongest, bravest, cleverest man in the world, a guy who can fix anything.
Mum, you get unimaginably large amounts of worship and adoration (just like your husband used to give you).
Both of you get an excuse to re-read bedtime stories like Narnia and Where the Wild Things Are.
You get an anger management course, absolutely free.
You get so much love that it fills your entire body and floods your eyes.
You both get a three hugs a day, which is 1,095 a year.
You get to vicariously experience all your “firsts” again: your first ice cream, your first play-date, your first plane ride, your first sight of an elephant.
You get to be God, making all the decisions.
You get a walking, talking doll that you can dress any way you like.
You get an excuse to splash out on a new camcorder.
You get an apoplectically enthusiastic greeting every time you come home from work.
You get to be “title sponsor” with naming rights.
You get a broken heart when they leave, but it’s worth it.