GOFAONE NINA TLADI
This past Sunday, as we celebrated our mothers, the question arose of when I would have a baby. Why do we ask people when they are going to have children? It is very intrusive and inappropriate, let’s stop! I realize we are generally a boundary ignoring people, although most of these questions come from a good place, they almost always offend the person hearing it. Please stop asking people when they will have kids, whether they are single or married, there are fertility issues, some do not want to have children at all and children are really expensive.
To get my child into a school, it seems I would have to sell a kidney immediately and use the proceeds to put down a deposit to get on the waiting list for acceptance and even then, there is no assurance my child will be accepted into the school I want. Can someone explain to me what “developmental levy” is exactly, isn’t school a 12 year long developmental project? Can the children not be developed within the school fees budget? We have all exchanged funny stories of family pressure which is the common thread that binds us together. We secretly delay our stays in the city and avoid going to home villages lest we be bombarded with requests for money and those annoying questions about when we will get married and have children.
Having a child, is a major financial commitment that I believe should be well thought out and planned. In preparation to write this week’s column, I took a quiz on my readiness to have a child. I failed dismally. There were things I really did not consider, such as:
• Medical aid – when to notify the medical aid of your pregnancy and delivery in order to add the baby as a dependent. Medical aid doesn’t cover everything, so if you have a C-section, you will have to pay part of the costs out of your ownpocket;
• Toiletries-I went shopping with my friend to buy baby toiletries, let’s just say, babies need a lot of things;
• Child care, crèche and pre-school- who will take care of the child when you are at work and the cost;
• Special needs- extra medical care, speech therapists etc.;
• Education – everyone I know who has a child tells me they feel like they are working to pay school fees; and
• Third party damage – my nephew is on a mission to break everything I own. Children will break anything and everything, you will have to replace many things.
For a child who attends a private school, their parents can pay approximately P15 000 per term, so from reception to Standard 7, school fees will be approximately P360 000 in fees alone, this doesn’t account for the annual inflationary increases, extra-mural activities, mepako, trips and uniform. Then there are high school and university fees-which I think we will have to pay when the time comes. I liken the pressure to have a child to that of having a big wedding, if you can afford it, great, but most of the time we succumb to the pressure. People love weddings, there’s free food, great music and they get to dress up but when the music stops, the newlyweds are left to foot the bill in the form of high personal loan instalments and before they can clear that off, they baby questions pop up.
People love babies, they are cute and smell great, they will wish you well, organize a baby shower and give you gifts but they won’t be there to help pay the P55 000 developmental levy so tell the truth- “We can’t afford a big wedding or to have a child right now!”
They say having a child is the hardest job you’ll ever love, it is no small feat and we should thank our parents for their hard work in raising us. I have no doubt I will have a really awesome kid one day and I’d like to give them the very best chance at a successful life. I want to give my child better than what I had and I had a pretty awesome life thanks to my mom’s sacrifices and hard work, thanks Mama.
PS: You don’t have to be a hero, you just have to be what most people aren’t, consistent. Next week we discuss the pioneers of our families and the immense pressure they are under to “pay up.”