The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

Ersatz Children

Posted on | April 12, 2014 | 39 Comments

by Smitty

More young women choosing dogs over motherhood” reads the NY Post headline. Sure, this is a part of our Postmodern, “____ as a social construct” culture. Yes, it has a veneer of plausibility, because it’s pushed in the media. But it’s dreck.

Must we even say this? These are pets, not children. Blurring the distinction between the two is not Progress; it’s decay. This is just further moral decline. But, as with the case of gay marriage, I don’t think that waxing ‘Old Testament’ and getting all ‘Bible Thumpy’ is a help. Newton’s Fourth Law, “For every message, there is a javelin directed at the messenger”* applies.

So the task is to figure out the best way to laugh at this, bless these womens’ hearts. And laugh while the men and women are young enough to escape their perpetual adolescence and mature into functional adults that carry a civilization forward.

Actual parenthood is an essential part of the overall human experience, for those who can. It’s taken me forever to get there–this post is as much directed to my younger self as anyone else. Though I was too busy earlier in life, and, to be honest, it took my Afghanistan deployment in 2011 to wake me and Mrs. Other Smitty up, I absolutely never would have said that a pet is equivalent to a child.

Let’s recap:

  • Parenthood is great
  • Raising children is a job; anyone disparaging it is an idiot
  • Anyone saying Fluffy is a child, however, is an idiot

UPDATE: Americans are having dogs instead of babies

*I just made that up.



39 Responses to “Ersatz Children”

  1. pabarge
    April 12th, 2014 @ 6:26 pm

    Be grateful these beasts are not having children. Seriously.

  2. Kirby McCain
    April 12th, 2014 @ 6:39 pm

    These women place their pets above other people and should be avoided.

  3. aeryn fulton
    April 12th, 2014 @ 6:54 pm

    They freely give up what is somewhat difficult for others. A single surrogacy will, all told, cost half as much as med-school. No payment plan options. Dynastic Immortality is the only game going, even for Mountain-Dew addled nerds awaiting the TechnoRapture of the Singularity to mind-upload into the latex-clad fetish-topia of the Matrix (TM).

  4. Julie Pascal
    April 12th, 2014 @ 7:09 pm

    Your web site just blasted a really loud obnoxious advertisement at me with no way to turn it off. At least I think it was you, because I’ve got nothing else open.

  5. Julie Pascal
    April 12th, 2014 @ 7:24 pm

    The article really doesn’t make the case that it’s a choice between a dog or a child. It points to correlation, but as we all know, correlation is not causation. Right? If people are getting married later and single longer it makes sense that they’d get a pet.

    None of the women interviewed went down the “Poopsie is just like having a child! Poopsie is my family!” We’ve all met/heard of people like that but they weren’t in this article.

    I’m as offended as anyone about the “my dog is my child” perversion, I just didn’t see it there. Maybe they only wanted to interview pretty young women instead of messed up middle aged childless women or men who can’t seem to figure out that children aren’t the same as pets. Children are people with their own ideas and lives who grow up, throw tantrums, shave their heads, drop out of school, move in with a jerk and live in sin, and disrespect their mother… and they’re still family and you still love them and you visit them in prison or you let them move home with their three kids… Because a dog that has an oopsie on the carpet, loves you forever, and never “grows up”, is exactly the same sort of commitment. Sure it is.

  6. Stanley
    April 12th, 2014 @ 7:32 pm

    I also viewed an unfortunate advertisement. What more unpleasant thing could it have said than: “President Huckabee 2016?”

  7. Phil_McG
    April 12th, 2014 @ 7:49 pm

    Raising children is the toughest and best thing most of us can possibly do with our lives. Unless you can find a cure for cancer or invent cold fusion or beat up the Loch Ness Monster in a televised fist fight refereed by Elvis Presley himself, having wee ones is the greatest and most magnificent challenge and triumph you will ever face in your time on this planet.

    Being a parent gives your life purpose and meaning and joy in a way that no amount of cute canine companions and fancy new iPads and sexy couples-only trips to balmy Sandals resorts will ever come close to replacing.

    It will test your patience, your resolve, and your endurance in ways you never imagined and give you with a lifetime of love and laughs and tears and priceless memories in return.

    It’s nice that these ladies get to enjoy the company of their pets, but scant comfort when they get older and realise – too late – that they’ll leave nothing behind but their stuff and a dead body for their dog or forty cats to nibble on before the neighbours complain about the smell.

    Chihuahuas are great. Children are better.

  8. Dianna Deeley
    April 12th, 2014 @ 8:31 pm

    Frequently, the dog is either a surrogate or practice.

    And, honestly, I can’t really begrudge the young women. It’s not as if guys these days line up to propose marriage. The dog only wants to ease your heart.

    I should probably admit I’ve had more than a few dogs and cats.

  9. Dianna Deeley
    April 12th, 2014 @ 8:33 pm

    I would point out that sometimes, the pet is more worthy.

    I have enough experience to be able to say that.

  10. Dianna Deeley
    April 12th, 2014 @ 8:34 pm

    Oh, good lord! Really?!

  11. Dianna Deeley
    April 12th, 2014 @ 8:36 pm

    Almost every young couple in my neighborhood had a dog before having babies. We refer to the dogs as “practice babies”, and enjoy the whole thing.

  12. RS
    April 12th, 2014 @ 8:46 pm

    The dog is an accessory, much like a scarf or pair of ear rings. The sad thing is, too many people view the obligatory 2.1 children with all their activities, straight As, etc. the same way.

  13. smitty
    April 12th, 2014 @ 8:49 pm

    No shame in that, as long as the “practice” doesn’t become The Practice.

  14. smitty
    April 12th, 2014 @ 8:49 pm

    Fair point. Mine a are blessing/responsibility from God.

  15. RS
    April 12th, 2014 @ 9:01 pm

    There is nothing that sobers the mind and focuses the attention like the realization that one is now responsible for a new immortal soul.

  16. Anamika
    April 12th, 2014 @ 9:31 pm

    If you observe carefully Smitty, children from age about 3 impose on themselves incredible harshness to conform to the group or to an inner compulsion; for example, my niece is considered by most an out of control brat, disobeying and refusing to cooperate, but like any perceived “selfish” or “stubborn” person, as soon as you listen carefully and acknowledge her inner tension, and self-punishment for perceived failure to please or achieve her own aim, she suddenly calms down or her anger turns into tears.
    To me this discovery this year 2014 was extraordinary because, if, to a person who is apparently into a tantrum, ruining everyone’s life, unmanageable, untractable or perceive like “she is imposing her dictatorship on the group”, if you approach her with “I know you are trying very hard and your heart is good but they don’t get it.” That these words manage to soothe an extreme tension proves that authentically the person tries very hard and doesn’t have a single yarn of selfishness in her, nor does anyone. It’s often been
    said that anger is just
    the fearful frustration
    within turned inside out.

    Parenthood is quite a
    educational experience,
    isn’t it? Reminds me of
    an old Keith Reid lyric:

    “..the lesson lies in learning,
    and by teaching I’ll be taught.”

  17. Evi L. Bloggerlady
    April 12th, 2014 @ 9:50 pm

    Feel sorry for the dogs.

  18. Evi L. Bloggerlady
    April 12th, 2014 @ 9:51 pm

    Seriously, it is friggin annoying. It is like you channeled Nancy Pelosi with that ad.

  19. smitty
    April 12th, 2014 @ 10:05 pm

    Insightful comment. To which I’ll add: some of the rowdiest kids of that ilk are really expressing great talent, albeit badly. So the challenge is to separate the signal from the noise and mature it.

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  21. Anamika
    April 12th, 2014 @ 10:37 pm

    A challenge indeed. One of the few things one can count on in parenting is that every child and every situation are different and make different demands on the participants. Some kids thrive on a gentle hand and a wide berth while others tend to “unfold” quite self-destructively given that sort of parenting approach.

    I’m assuming the experience of parenting gives one a tremendous amount of insight, and empathy with other parents, that one who has never had children just won’t have.

  22. Paul H. Lemmen
    April 12th, 2014 @ 10:55 pm

    I married my wife too late in life for children. Hers were grown and in their late 20’s and married themselves. Recognizing early that I would make neither a good husband nor father, I went forward with my life sans wife and children. I have no “baby momma’s” in my past. To give comfort to my wife and I must admit, to myself as well, we bought a small dog from a well-known breeder (a pure-breed Silky Terrier) 10 years ago. The amount of joy this little girl-dog gives both Barb and I is incredible. She’s a snuggely, well mannered, quiet little bundle of love. I recommend them to empty nesters to fill the gap (grand-kids don’t quite fill that spot entirely).

  23. PhilipJames
    April 12th, 2014 @ 11:05 pm

    Back in my hippy days, within our circle of friends was a couple where the guy was fairly smart and his girlfriend not so much. But they loved each other and got married. Still married after 40 years now. But, back then (we were in our 20’s) the wife wanted to have kids. The guy was a little worried about that so believe it or not, he said they would get a puppy and if she took good care of it, then he would seriously think about kids. Well, within two weeks, the puppy ran out into the street and was run over. I guess you can figure how many kids they have had since then.

  24. Kirby McCain
    April 12th, 2014 @ 11:10 pm

    Rape culture, get vilified in the divorce so you can be robbed, dragged around by the kids; who would want to line up for that kind of abuse?

  25. Kirby McCain
    April 12th, 2014 @ 11:14 pm

    I wouldn’t have gone that far but you’re probably right. Women have become so decadent they’re hardly worth the upkeep.

  26. Good Stuff
    April 13th, 2014 @ 1:30 am

    Older women and dogs… My wife has filled the empty nest with rescued puppies – At first I resisted but I could not brake my wifes heart – now five dogs are a very big part of our life – It’s a good thing

  27. Good Stuff
    April 13th, 2014 @ 1:32 am

    oops, forgot the photos and stuff – Songkran thing –

  28. Adjoran
    April 13th, 2014 @ 2:50 am

    Of course it isn’t the same. But the actual article didn’t really address people who view their animals as children.

    There are people who use their pets to replace something or someone missing from their lives. Such people have serious problems, but I didn’t really get that so much here.

  29. K-Bob
    April 13th, 2014 @ 3:08 am

    Parody, one would hope.

    I have much better chance of community organizing my own lazy butt into the White House than he does.

  30. smitty
    April 13th, 2014 @ 7:15 am

    My remarks are chiefly targeted at youth/middle age.

  31. smitty
    April 13th, 2014 @ 7:16 am

    An empty nest is not the same thing as a neglected one.

  32. Paul H. Lemmen
    April 13th, 2014 @ 8:10 am

    Yep, I understood that Smitty. I was only aiming my remark at “empty-nesters” and the comfort and joy possible from these same dogs that God has gifted us with. They are not a replacement for children at any stage of life but are intended solely as companions. All good and useful things may be improperly used as in what you have stated and decried.

  33. Paul H. Lemmen
    April 13th, 2014 @ 8:25 am

    +1000 Dogs will always remain dogs. We love ours because she gives us love and snuggles when we need them and she is uncritical because, well, after all she is just a dog. As I’ve stated, I have no children but I do have two step-daughters (married, with children) and we have experienced everything you’ve stated above. We’ve paid their bills, had them move in, bailed their husbands (and on one occasion, one of the daughters) out of jail. All the joys and frustrations, arguments and celebrations of the human experience. Even when on the “outs”, they are more important because they are humans! Possessing an immortal soul and they have our love.
    I know much more now the love, joy, frustrations and angst that I missed out on by not being a parent. Perhaps it will make me a better grandparent to my seven grandchildren.

  34. Quartermaster
    April 13th, 2014 @ 8:36 am

    Newton probably did say something like that a few times.

  35. Quartermaster
    April 13th, 2014 @ 8:39 am

    Chihuahuas are just bark boxes. Blue Heelers are it’s at.

  36. Blake
    April 13th, 2014 @ 1:51 pm

    Alternate headline: Men are tired of being being sperm donors with a paycheck.

    Someone even wrote a book about it….

  37. Dana
    April 13th, 2014 @ 7:20 pm

    Why be surprised? After all, you can kill your kid, as long as he hasn’t been born yet, but mistreat a puppy? You’ll pay for that one!

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