Here's one to ponder: When's a good age to have children and what's the best gap to have between them?
I've never really understood parents who wait until one child starts school before having the next one. It all sounds too long and drawn out. That said, I do recall getting rather a lot of horrified looks back in the day when I told people I had three kids under the age of five. They kind off assumed that either this was down to misfortune or insanity.
I like the way my kids are close together, though. The four years between Fraser and Marie might be enough for them to annoy each other most of the time but they can still play games together without Fraser feeling as if he's looking after her. Being in the middle, Lewis gets on with both of them.
Although, now I think about it, the two year gap between Lewis and Marie could provide some problems for me when they're teenagers. What with girls maturing faster than boys, they'll be ideally placed to provide each other with a constant stream of dating opportunities from amongst their classmates.
The truth is, there may not be an ideal time and spacing. There are always going to be bonuses and consequences. It's simply a case of getting on with it and seeing what happens.
Recently, a friend muttered that he'd maybe planned things poorly, in that he's going to have the fun of dealing with a teenage daughter when he's in his mid-fifties. I did some quick calculations and was delighted to realise that all mine should be out of the house by the time I turn fifty. It could be a close run thing - depending on the university, Marie might not have got through Freshers' Week before I'm blowing out a stupidly large number of candles - but, nevertheless, once the kids have grown up and moved away, I'll still be almost young... if only for a day or two. I'll wander around the house in my underpants to celebrate and then turn the TV to whatever channel I feel like without anyone complaining.
(Of course, I'm assuming here that my children will go on to higher education, which could be seen as somewhat presumptuous. However, much as I'd love to have produced a plumber, an electrician and a joiner, all my kids seem to be wilfully academic and only Lewis looks liable to have enough coordination to be trusted with power tools. Rather than getting my house fixed up for free when they're older, I'm going to be lumbered with their student debt. Ho hum.)
The happy dream of offspring-free habitation lasted for several seconds. Then a different train of thought dropped, unbidden, into my brain:
Fraser is four years older than Marie and a Scottish degree lasts four years, therefore...
...by the time she moves out, he could have already moved back in!
Gah. Unless I change the locks, I could be in my eighties before I'm left in peace to wander around the house in my underpants. What's the good of that? When I'm eighty, I'm planning to wander round in my underpants whenever I feel like it anyway.
That'll give my kids something really fun to deal with when they're in their mid-fifties.
Yours in a woman's world,