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.