THE two questions I have probably been asked most relate to whether or not I am married or have kids. When I answer “no” to both, people make certain assumptions.
Most big decisions in life are probably made in your 20s and 30s, but I made most of mine between primary school and about 16.
When I say I made them by then, what I actually mean is I avoided making any actual real life choices after that.
I didn’t know whether or not I wanted to do a degree, get a job, where I wanted to live. Any of that. But then life just happened.
In other areas though, I had made decisions really early in life and just stuck with them.
I remember a teacher at primary school going round the class and asking us if we wanted to get married, how many kids we would have and what career we fancied. I said I would never get married, definitely didn’t want to have children and would like to be a joiner (it turned out a level of DIY knowledge was needed to pursue that ambition so I knocked it on the head, which is more than I’ve ever done to a nail).
At secondary school, in what was then Religious Education (Christian indoctrination, in reality, but I think our school was almost exclusively CofE and Catholic) we were asked the same questions and I mostly gave the same answers, though swapping joinery for journalism (I really should have tried harder in woodwork, though I did successfully complete a pencil case and plant holder and brilliantly carved out a swan, but cocked up badly when attempting to place it in the centre of the plinth — have any of you tried making a plinth?).
The teacher asked why I didn’t want to get married or have kids and I said I thought marriage was a bit of a dated institution (must have read that somewhere) and largely ended in those concerned sticking it out for the sake of it or divorce, and having children was selfish as the population was already too high and we were destroying the environment, over-filling schools, building on green space etc (must have read that somewhere pt 2).
The RE teacher countered that I was being selfish as I was depriving some as yet unborn people of life. Mmm...
I think in the end it was probably a mixture of both. I still believe my original arguments — and maybe that’s the point here, that most people form their opinions when quite young and base them on those they have heard from others while growing up, though that part clearly didn’t happen with me — but accept that I also couldn’t face missing out on going to the football when I wanted, spontaneous days or nights out, having to give up plans because the kids needed a lift somewhere etc.
It wouldn’t have worked out for the best anyway. I was only proposed to once and, having turned that down, the proposer went on to marry someone with a lot more money and became a successful author, while my other ex of any significance married my best mate.
In conclusion, sticking to my guns resulted in a better life for everyone concerned. Selfless, you see.
But did it work out better for me?
Can anyone ever know the answer to that question?