Friday, July 11, 2008

Free childcare and paternity leave to encourage more births in the S'pore? Ok, free childcare would take some of the financial pinch from raising a kid for a fraction of the 20+ year commitment that parents here face per kid, but paternity leave sounds as attractive as a root canal with only a sledgehammer for anesthetic.

Taking a year off work is in itself tempting, but paternity leave isn't exactly a summer vacation on a pristine tropical beach with an umbrella drink in hand. Paternity leave's never caught on because more often than not, the paternal half of the genetic merger would rather slog out an 18-hour shift at the office where the stress is constant but predictable, than stay home all day spooning mush into one end while manoeuvring around drool and barf, and cleaning poop out the other. Waking up at 4 a.m. isn't for driving out into the country for a spot of fishing, it's to calm a little banshee with a bottle in his mouth instead of over the head... mutter... grumble... yawn... zzz.

I dunno. Alvin would like nothing better than to come home to a brood of kids; he says that's what will ease his day and make him feel all calm and blissful after a hard day at work. Me, nothing raises my blood pressure faster than a little 'un, not to mention being surrounded by them. To me, that's stress I don't need. I'm fine if I happen to be temporarily looking after a kid or two that I can happily return to sender after a few minutes, but who am I going to return my genetic offspring to if I need to get on with my life? As a responsible person, if I made the mess, I have to clean it up. So let's not start, shall we?

Ultimately, it isn't about more incentives to boost the population. People who want kids will have them anyway, regardless. It's the growing number of people like me, all with shrivelled, blackened, hardened raisins that pass for our hearts that need to be addressed. Go all Scandinavian on us if you like. Doubt we'll budge.

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