This is my column in today’s Greenville News.  For whatever reason, I can’t find it on their website.  If I do, I’ll put up the link.

Blessings on you all!

In modern America, our family of four children is considered ridiculously large.  I guess that’s why people have so often asked me these questions:  ‘haven’t you heard about birth control?’  ‘Doc, don’t you know how that happens?’  And ‘don’t you ever watch television?’

My answers are ‘yes we’ve heard about birth control…but what with being married and all, we like to gamble.’  ‘Yes, we know how it happens; we’re fertile, we aren’t morons.’  And ‘if you’re just watching television, odds are you need to turn it off and try some romance; the kind that doesn’t involve Tivo.’

I guess the idea of having many children seems a throwback to earlier times.  You know, those quaint old times when humans were considered valuable and desired..  But it isn’t just individuals who are uncomfortable with big families.  Society has taken a dim view of them as well, if not explicitly, then certainly implicitly.  And it’s nowhere more evident than in the areas of travel and transportation.

Hotels are the first things that come to mind.  It seems that fire-codes were designed in conjunction with a sinister cabal of hotel owners who dreamed of being only children.  The fire code is the brick wall into which many large families crash, because it often requires that mom, dad and the several children share two rooms.  And good luck getting adjoining rooms!  Seems to me, having everyone in the same room is safer than splitting the family up.  But then, I’m no firefighter…or hotel owner.

In defense of hotels, I’m seeing an increasing number of hotel chains, like Homewood Suites and Staybridge Suites, which seem to cater to larger groups of humans, without undue punishment on the bill.  And many of them offer a complimentary breakfast; which brings me to feeding the large family ‘on the road.’

There was a time when the children’s menu was adequate.  Chicken nuggets, a plastic toy and life was good.  Those days are long gone.  Now, with one teen and three others rapidly approaching teen-hood, I need another kind of menu.  The kind with endless food at one low price.  My oldest is fourteen.  I swear, I think I can hear him growing at night.  I can see, now, the reason wagon trains had all those cattle; it was for teenage boys.

‘Pa, can we stop for another cow?  I’m starving!’

‘Just wait a minute boy; I think there’s a herd of buffalo over the next rise.’

‘But you said that two rivers ago!’

At least we still have a vehicle, a GMC Yukon, large enough to accommodate our ‘massive’ modern family.  But if you want an example of the cultural antipathy towards families, just look at all of the cool electric and hybrid vehicles coming along.  There isn’t much our there for those of us trying to keep the population growing; and safe.

(Note to car designers and dealerships; if I have to have two cars to transport my family, are we really any better off, energy-wise?  Remember, we can’t all drive Subarus; I don’t have enough bumper-stickers to drive one if I wanted to!  Please give us fuel-efficient large vehicles.  They make more sense for large families.)

I suspect that by now, someone reading this is aghast at the over-population I’m foisting on the world.  They’re shocked by my ridiculous use of resources.  By my cavalier attitude towards the imminent death of the planet!  To which I say, ‘get over it.’  The thing is, most of the world’s developed nations are depopulating.  Before long, someone in Japan will have to turn off the last Pachinko machine and Sony robot as he boards the plane for…well, somewhere with people.  Europe, too, is in a population nose-dive.  And those awesome European social programs we all aspire to are in grave danger of going away…along with the people.

Odd thing, that.  Without new people to work, produce and tax, all our best-laid social plans and scientific advances come to a screeching, grinding halt.  Furthermore, without families having children, loving them and teaching them common values, the fabric of society will unravel faster than a teen can eat his weight in fried chicken, or a New York cabbie can say, ‘two taxi!’.

So next time you see a large family, don’t criticize.  Help them to save money if you can.  Thank them for giving the country a future.  And for all of the taxes those kids will be paying when you’re old and retired.

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