Monday, 22 December 2008

You do the math* (or, How to prepare for Christmas**)

Christmas - traditionally a time for a coming together of extended families, excessive eating and, for many of us, fielding questions from the less tactful amongst your relatives about when you are going to start a family.

But, as Baden-Powell knew, the way to deal with everything is to ‘Be prepared’. So my dears, because I am here but to serve you I have spent at least seven minutes concocting a complex and fool-proof formula to enable you to ascertain exactly how much of an ear-bashing you are going to get from the in-laws this festive season. A simple calculation will enable you to go into the festivities armed with the appropriate number of conversation changers, witty retorts and, if required, hankies and Valium stuffed into your suitcase.

So here it is:
Σ = Ψ ÷ (Ω+1) x 10


What? You need more?

Ok, so where Σ equals the amount that your parent/ in-laws want kids. (And I use the term in-laws loosely, I'm not suggesting you need to be married but if you had to get married to acquire in-laws the marriage rate would crash, as it is they seem to adopt you even before you tie the knot).

Ψ is the number of years you and your partner have been together and, Ω equals the number of existing grandchildren already enjoying the attentions of their doting Nana and Poppa. (The reason you have to do the plus one on the grandkids is for those with no grandchildren, you can’t divide something by 0.) And you times it by 10 just to make it a more percentagey looking figure – I know, technical stuff here.

So to put it into context and bring it back to me (because we all know, it is always all about me).

The husband and I have been together 14 years (we are back to the gross figure again as no one ever remembers the blip on our path to marital bliss).

My Dad and Stepmother have 4 grandchildren between them, therefore:
14 ÷ (4+1) x10 = 28% DOGS (using the Desirious Of a Grandchild Scale***)

So not too bad, but there are still going to be some questions to field. You’d think because I have come out to them about the difficulties we are having this amount would be lessened. Not so. Instead the energy that would have previously been expended on, “Don’t leave it too long” and “I would have thought you two would have had a child by now” is transposed to; “So what exactly are you taking these pills for?”, “How long is the waiting list for this, … um … what is it? Test tube babies?” and “Are you sure you shouldn’t just go private?"

Up in Dundee the husband’s parents have no grandchildren so when we are there for the New Year festivities the formula is:
14 ÷ (0+1) x10 = 140% DOGS

Now I know some of you mathematicians are thinking ‘hang about love, you can’t have over 100%’ – but if that is your train of thought then you clearly have no idea how much some folk want grandkids. If footballers can give it a hundred and ten percent on the field so too can the parents of the barren put defy maths when it comes to wanted their progeny to have progeny.

To be fair the husband’s parents are pretty good. They don’t know what is going on with us (but we’ll probably talk through with them when we see them this time, we last saw them this time last yearn - so much to say, so little concrete results). So we probably won’t have masses of inappropriate questions to deal with. That 140% of wanting a grandkid will just be manifested in the slight slump of shoulders when they offer, and I accept, my first glass of wine.

So, in the comments, I want your scores for what you are going to have to contend with over the yuletide season. And if any of you are feeling particularly ambitious you can add the variables to the formula e.g. your age (the older you are the higher the outcome as your parent / in-laws biological clock ticks as loudly as any of ours), how much they like your partner (if they don’t want their genes to mix you are looking in a significant reduction on the DOGS scale), and how to do the calculation if you are single.

And, as a special Christmas treat to me, I want ALL of you to put your scores in the comments. Even if you only ever lurk and never comment, or if you already have 13 children (cause as far as Grandparents are concerned they can never have enough), even if you are reading this a week or 8 too late.

*There is always something we Brits find deliciously wrong about writing or saying maths without the ‘s’... It’s exotic, innit.

** Taking my cue here from Shakespere who fancied the duel title, Twelfth Night, or What You Will. Getting big headed? Moi?

*** Hey, at least it more self-explanatory (and easier to spell) than Fahrenheit.


  1. Christ... No pressure then... from wifey's side 110% (aka the footballer's score) and from mine, er.. 6.1%...

    And as much as it gauls me to say it as I'm a bitter little man, brilliant post.

  2. I can't believe you are making me do math! OK, mine was 15%. We have been together very long, but I'm not sure that is totally representative of reality. My father asks me almost every phone call when he will get grandchildren. He doesn't have other children to harrass.

  3. Right now for us??? 0%!!!!!! :D We are spending Christmas just the two of us this year. We are only near a Grandparent and an Aunt and her family, but choose to not do that fairly long drive this Christmas. So we will be mostly at peace. And after 2.5 years.. honestly.. they've stopped bugging quite as much (my Mom never does EVER.. she's awesome), and we are much more accepting of our situation. There's a deeper pain but more peace.

    But it's always easier when it's just us. We love our little family of pets and each other.

  4. Have had a monstrous glass of wine and cannot do the sums. But it's pretty low on both sides now. It was 100%+ on my side before H arrived, as I am an only child.

    Christmas sucks when you haven't got the number of kids you want. Hang on in there.

  5. Don't hate me but no one bugs us about kids, both sets of parents know our struggles and don't hint or hassle.

    Is just me wanting 100% to not be the only childless person in the room at Christmas. It is truely a day all about them with their excessive amount of presents strewn across the house,their hyped up little bodies running around on a giant sugar induced rush and their demanding whining voices when they get over tired at he end of it all.

    Oh wait, lets make that 10% for me thinking about it. I get to just sit there and drink wine while my siblings run around after them.

  6. 150%!!! We were together 15 years (married for 13 of them) and neither of our parents had other grandchildren, or any other prospects. We were to put it mildly, the "ONLY HOPE".
    So, no pressure, none at all. My mother starting saying novenas for grandchildren on our honeymoon and buying books for her future grandchild.
    We finally did procreate (with the
    considerable help of modern science) and our son is the light of all 4 of their eyes.
    So do I get a prize or what?? :)

  7. Our score is 5.26% on my side (18 grandchildren, so no pressure there!), and 20% on John's side. If you factor in age, like multiply the answer by the number of years you are over the age of 30, then it's 47.34% and 180%.

    To be honest I think even though my parents have so many grandchildren, they really want to see us with kids because they know how much we want them. John's side honestly don't seem to give a toss one way or the other. Maybe that's a bit harsh, but all I seem to get from his mother is "your troubles are small really" or "don't take it too seriously". She's just one of these women who is not all that into babies.

    I love my in laws really!

  8. Brilliant post!

    Based on this formula, my father and stepmother are 80% DOGS, although I think that the real number is somewhat higher: if, as you say, footballers can give it 110% so too can parents yearn for a grandchild at at least that rate if not higher. I also think that there should be some extra letter in your formula to account for those of us who are only children, and who do not have any fertile siblings to take some of the pressure off!

    All the best for Christmas!

  9. That'll be your enormous and ever-breeding siblings taking the pressure off (or making you wonder what the hell went wrong with you guys), hey X? And I'll take your grudging compliment and give myself a high five.

    Lea, dammit. I've been proved falliable... hmm there must be a anaomoly. Have you had another long relationship previously which allowed the possibility of grandchildren to enter into your dad's mind?

    Barb, enjoy your stress free xmas.

    hairyfarmerfamily, put the wine down. Step away from the wine.

    Paint it Black, course I don't hate you , silly mare.

    Jane, Horray an new person (not that I don't appreciate the lot of you)! And good to hear a success story. Prize in the post - but you know what Christmas post is like, don't expect it any time soon.

    Jane G, fucking hell I knew you family was big but sheesh. And thanks for sorting out the over 30 maths.

    Ta Ms Heathen, Yeah only children they have to have all the grandkids, win a Noble prize and come home for lunch every Sunday. And great that you're going to be able to fulfil at least one of them (or are we still not counting our chickens yet).

  10. Sorry it's late, but I'll share my results.

    With my In-Laws it is only 8.7% which is about right.

    With my own mother it is 70%. This one is a little bit off so I tweeked it a bit. I am the youngest child and I am the only child that is married. My mother has pretty much given up on my brother and my sister because of their ages and no prospects, so I get their numbers added to mine, which puts it closer to 210% or so and that about hits it on the head.

  11. I did MATH (wheeee). H and I have been together for nearly 16 years. We've only been married married for nearly 4, but we've been living in sin since we left university. So, say 16 years. My mother has one grandchild. Therefore she has a DOGS rating of 80%. My father (yes, they are very, very divorced) has 6 grandchildren, and a DOG rating of 22.85%, which looks astoundingly accurate. My in-laws (who actually stayed married, bless them) have NO grandchildren and frankly their other son looks as inclined to reproduce as a herring is inclined to crochet. Which gives them, poor souls, a DOG rating of 160%. I think this is probably accurate too, but they have far better manners than my mother so we hear a hell of a lot less about it.

    And that, my dears, is why H and I are spending Christmas Day in a very nice hotel at least 150 miles from the nearest parental unit.

  12. Ok, on my folks side our score is 80% because I am an only child and all the burden of grandkid producing sits on my infertile shoulders.
    On husband's side our score is 40%... which should be reduced significantly now that his can do no wrong brother has produced the first grandchild.

    yay, christmas.

  13. Not too late at all Bee Bee, that's some making up for your siblings you need to do!

    Nuts, it works! wa-hay. A romantic Christmas in a hotel sounds perfect, not washing up, no hassel. Nice. Have a good one.

    Lovecomes first, yeas we really need to work out how to tackle the only child issue. I think maybe rather than multiplying the final score by 10 so get eh percentage we should multiply by 20.

  14. WFI, I was married for 5 years previously. So how does that factor into your equation? :)

  15. Well there you go Lea, if you've already been married the expectation from that marriage has been carried over so you add 5 to Ψ . Bloody heel, I might actually be a genius.

  16. The score is 10.66% with the hubby's side who harass us about having another child at every opportunity. Apparently we *should* have at least 4 children or else we aren't "real" parents (we have 2 kids). BUT the motherinlaw doesn't actually want anything to do with our existing kids - I think its just some sort of "number of grandkids scorecard" that she keeps.

    The score is higher with my family (26.6%) but my folks are completely in love with the grandkids they already have and treasure each and every grandchild, without hinting about us having any more.

  17. Great post -
    On DH's side - 40%
    and on mine - 120%

    But to be fair - they've all pretty much given up on us!

  18. Oh my God Amanda, you mean it never stops?

    NH, but have you given up? Will pop over to your blog and have a wee look.

  19. Phew! That was tough, I really don't do maths.

    My in-laws - 100%
    My parents - 0.33%

    Great post, if not a little showey offey.....

  20. it's 2 years late, but you did say to comment, and this was too much fun to pass up....


    On both sides.

    loving your blog, btw.


I've resisted word verification for ages but I'm getting so many spam comments at the moment that I think it is time. Sorry!