As I was going through the airport security checkpoint on my way back from the conference, a woman with three children was behind me in line. As I took my laptop out of its bag so they could do whatever it is they do to it (can’t x-rays see through laptop bags?), one of these kids, let’s say ten years old, comments on it.
“Thanks,” I replied, instead of asking how we could tell what model it is just by looking at the top of it or grilling him on whether the IT department’s recommendation to purchase this one was valid since he was clearly an authority on the topic. “It’s work’s. I get to use it, though.”
“Yeah, just like my dad.”
“Look, kid. Just because when I was your age my father was younger than I am now doesn’t mean I should have a ten-year-old running around. Times are different now. Not a single one of my friends has a kid. Not high-school friends, not college friends, nobody! No one has kids before thirty anymore!
“High-school and college educations don’t pack the same punch they used to, so to be at the same level our parents were at, my generation need initials after our names. So, while we’re scrambling to get to the level our parents were at when they were 21 (single income family, homeowner, had a functional car, ate three meals a day, etc), images of little tykes like you linger in the backs of our minds. We wonder if we’re too late. If we don’t have kids soon, the likelihood of having them drops off pretty sharply, and then what will happen when we’re elderly? Who will tend to us in our golden years? Who, you little bastard, who?!?
“I mean, I don’t even want to have kids, but if I do, the family unit has been so scattered by high divorce rates, affordable transportation, and easy communication that a family is little more than obligation and guilt. We’re all alone in the world. Nevermind the fact that religion has become the domain of rednecks and none of us believe in an afterlife anymore. What’s the point of any of it? Answer me!”
At this point I realized I was holding the kid several feet off the ground by his lapels and screaming in his face. I put him back on the ground, tousled his hair, and gave him a quarter before walking off to my flight.