Modern life is weird. Thanks to supermarket delivery tracking apps, we know the precise location of our next roll of toilet paper, but we haven’t the faintest idea where our children are.
I ask mine, of course, but my teenage daughter divides the world into only two locations: “Home” and “Out”.
Plan: All dads should sell their children to their wives through Amazon’s reseller programme, so they get tracking chips attached to them: “Hold still, darling, while this nice uncle inserts something under your skin.”
Of course the danger is that someone else buys your children before your wife can click the “add to cart” button, but, hey, what’s life without risk? Any buyer who ends up with my brood will eventually discover they’ve made a horrendous mistake and can send them back to me (preferably after they’ve all graduated from university).
Yet surely it is odd that in today’s world, under-skin chips are routinely implanted into dogs for their safety, but not into children. Which are more important contributors to family life? (Don’t answer that.)
Ideally, children should have microchips with little built-in speakers so that they hear Things Dads Say at regular intervals: 1) “Do you think I’m made of money?” 2) “You’re not going out in that,” and 3) “Ask your mother.”
Listening to me rant, a China correspondent told me about a problem in Shanghai which could have been prevented by microchipping children.
A father in Shanghai complained about his handsome, clever son: “How can someone as ugly as me have a kid like that?” he said. Good point. Still, his wife insisted she had never been unfaithful. He divorced her anyway.
The woman, named in reports only as Mrs Zhang, admitted that something was wrong, as the boy was adorable, while her ex-husband looked like the back of a hippo. DNA eventually showed that the boy was not related to either parent and a mix-up had been made at the Shanghai hospital.
The report was printed recently in the Chinese media — which means that a hundred thousand parents are exclaiming: “So THAT’S why you’re so ugly and stupid, son!” Be tactful, mums and dads.
But the switched-at-birth story that scores highest on the facepalm index is that of Mary Miller from This American Life, a podcast. In 1951, Mrs Miller realised that nurses had given her the wrong baby because it was much lighter than it had been at birth.
Instead of pointing this out, she consulted her husband Norbert. I know! For a woman to ask her husband anything about babies is certifiably insane.
Norbert, being an insensitive idiot (“a male”), couldn’t see any problem. She went into hospital pregnant, she came out with a baby. A baby’s a baby, right? Just keep it. What’s the difference?
She listened to him. But she owned up 43 years later, leaving two families furious with her.
Microchipping kids could prevent such problems, but this is the weird thing. It seems that modern society only tracks what it considers important.
I’m not sure where the kids are. But my toilet paper is two streets away and should arrive in four minutes.