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Robert Kirby: The meaning of life

Published August 3, 2014 3:16 pm

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2014, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

I can understand why a person might not want to have children. Ever. I don't think it's a selfish decision, either. Some people simply aren't into parenting.

I wasn't. It just sort of happened. I got married and suddenly I was the father of three daughters. This was followed by years of noise, mess, open defiance, car accidents, endless bickering and hormonally charged mood swings.

It's not just my kids. Children in general are loud, trashy, leaky, smelly and expensive. Why would you want to have one when it would be cheaper and more intellectually stimulating to just buy a gorilla?

Looking back today, I grudgingly concede that all of the trouble may have been worth it. The daughters my wife and I raised aren't in prison, addicted to drugs or overtly plotting our deaths. They turned out well.

In fact, at the risk of them finding out, I'll even admit to being proud of them. Don't tell them, though. It will only make them harder to deal with in the future.

Beyond food and an overly generous allowance, I was never really into being parented myself. I saw my parents as a source of money and potential punishment.

My responsibility as a child consisted largely of obtaining as much of the former and simultaneously dodging the latter. I ended up getting as much of both as I needed.

Having children is a necessary evil if you want to get to the best part of life. I don't mean when they grow up and leave, although that is certainly something to look forward to with great anticipation.

Nope. The best part of life is when your kids come back with their own kids.

Say what you will about money, beauty, serenity — the true point of life is grandchildren. Incidentally, this is the only point where I feel sorry for people who choose to remain childless and/or buy a gorilla.

My wife and I had our ninth grandchild in March. Ada Grace is beautiful and already smarter than any other baby on earth. Did you see that picture of her?

Thank you. She is pretty fabulous, isn't she?

Most of the stuff I wanted in my life I never actually got. I had lots of big dreams and goals, including some really stupid and illegal ones.

At one time or another I wanted an atom bomb, a law degree, my own rock band (Sky Rhino), a secluded cabin on the water, to write a best-seller and to have a cannon in my backyard capable of reaching the state Capitol.

I also wanted a 1970 Dodge Challenger, an airplane, an unlimited supply of hallucinogens, a rifle range in my basement, to visit the Dalai Lama, be a love slave to Sophia Loren, climb Mt. Everest and raft the entire length of the Amazon.

Not once in all of that time dreaming and scheming did wanting grandkids ever occur to me. If it had, I would have dismissed the idea. Weren't grandkids just later versions of the snot monsters I was already raising?

They're not. You can do so much with them. This morning, I made Ada Grace laugh, had a great conversation with her about toes and got barfed on while tickling her. It was so much better than rafting the Amazon.

I promised Ada Grace that I would be there for her when she got into trouble with her parents. I'd hold her and tell her about all the crap her mom used to pull. That's worth all the other stuff.

Except maybe for the atom bomb. I still wouldn't mind one of those.

Robert Kirby can be reached at rkirby@sltrib.com or facebook.com/stillnotpatbagley.