Am I fit to breed?

Whether the world needs more children is a tough question. Whether the world is worthy of one's own children is harder still

At long last, the glove has come off. After 20-odd years of training exercises, drill parades, dawn reccys, evening fly-bys and, let's not forget, the occasional kamikaze mission, my boys are finally due for live action. Morale runs at an all-time high, fructose rations are doubled, rumour circulates like wildfire: the next scramble will be for real, offering a chance for heroism and great honour in triumph against all odds; or, more likely, a death for once blessed with dignity, at rest beside millions of comrades fallen similarly in the line of duty, glory in their minds, joy in their hearts.

Yes, like most men, I have ridiculously high expectations of my sperm. A force of some 50 million of these highly-trained, intensely-focused individuals can be mustered at a moment's notice, ready, unthinking, to do my bidding, or die in the trying. Admittedly this is a power I hold in common with pretty much all the other males of my species, and of many others besides. None the less, mine are special. Years of sending out the super-sperm to a certain and dishonourable death has left me feeling, well, somewhat General Haigish.

But while the heart rejoices at front-line posting, the head is somewhat fuzzy. Indeed, there must be few who set out on the reproductive path with the clear mind of the military strategist. For starters, there's the uncertainty – magnified by the media's obsession with infertility and the supposed right to bear children – about shooting the starting gun. No amount of training, however rigorous, can alter the possibility that one may be firing blanks.

And then there's the worry about being a bad father. How, after all, am I to know that my habitual laziness, indecision, moral laxity and general conceptual befuddledness will all suddenly disappear just because I start sharing my dwelling with an irrational, nappy-clad board-crawler? And then, for good measure, there are lashings of seductive worries about money, time, friends, going-out, sleep, money.

All these pale into comparison, however, beside the two master-worries of prospective parenthood: parentitis and VHEMT (pronounced "vehement", apparently)...

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