Here is a heartwarming story that will warm your heart and fill your heart with warmth. It’s the story of a woman who just gave birth to a set of twins. Cute, right? But wait, there’s more! It’s the THIRD set of twins she’s had! And she had a regular kid before that! So she has seven children total, ages zero to 4 years. Quite a handful! That must be a busy operation there at her house, with all that pooping and crying, not to mention all the pooping and crying that the children are doing.
But wait, there’s even more! I haven’t told you the best part yet!
The mother is 20 years old, unmarried, unemployed, and on welfare! Hooray!
Her name is Amanda Gonzales, and she lives in Dallas. WFAA Channel 8 did a story about her recently (transcript here, video here) that walked the line between celebrating the novelty of having three pairs of twins, and scolding Amanda for being an example of everything that’s wrong with the world. You can imagine the conversations that took place in the newsroom. Rough drafts of the story probably looked like this:
“Noted local tramp Amanda Gonzales was prepared to pop out two more future deadbeats Thursday….”
“When is a womb not a womb? When it belongs to Amanda Gonzales, and then it’s a Pez dispenser.”
“Good news, Dallas men! If you’ve always wanted to be a deadbeat dad, we know of a woman who will probably sleep with you — and we know she’s fertile!”
The father of the latest set of twins (it’s implied he is not the father of the other children) is 21 years old and also unemployed. What leads a 21-year-old guy to sleep with a woman who already has five kids? And what possesses them to spurn birth control, or to misuse it, or to get pregnant on purpose?
In other words, WHAT IS WRONG WITH THESE PEOPLE?!
There are so many people to blame that I scarcely know where to start. But let’s begin with…
HER MOTHER. She’s featured in the story. Her name is Joan. Amanda is aware that women in Texas are notorious for drowning or otherwise dispatching their own children, but she thinks she can handle the stress. Joan, her mom, agrees: “I’ve always talked to her and told her about it, if you ever get depressed that bad, you got people you can you can talk to, your sister, your brother, her boyfriend.” We’ll assume she meant to include herself as one of the people Amanda can turn to for help. And it’s awesome that she’s so supportive. Where was she five years ago, when Amanda was 15 and getting knocked up? What about a year later, and a year after that, when she got pregnant again and again? Where was Joan Gonzales when Amanda was a young teenager, when someone should have been teaching her maturity and responsibility? At Failed Parents R Us, that’s where, picking up some kits on how to fail at parenting.
HERSELF. I don’t know what kind of example Amanda had growing up. There may not have been any responsible men in her life, and her mother obviously wasn’t getting the job done. But regardless of what kind of lousy childhood you had, you’d have to be straight-up retarded not to know that you shouldn’t keep having babies when you have neither a husband nor a long-term partner nor a job nor an education. Were those first few babies she had super-easy to take care of? Was she like, “Hey, this isn’t as bad as every single person I know told me it would be! Turns out being a mother of three at 17 is a breeze! I bet I could have four more and not even break a sweat!”? How did she manage NOT to learn her lesson after the first pregnancy, let alone after the second and third?
In the news video, she says she always wanted to have kids. “I’ve always tooken care of kids since I was little, babysit, and I think that’s where I got it, when I used to babysit a lot of kids, I wanted to have my own, a lot of kids.” A fine sentiment, and elegantly stated. But what kind of idiot thinks having kids is so easy and harmless that she should have seven of them by the time she’s 20?
THE GUY. His name is Joshua Brown, for the record. Dude, you’re a moron. Birth control is not just the woman’s responsibility. I guess you know that now, unless you’re just as bad at learning lessons as your girlfriend is. And guess what? Even if the law can’t force you to stick around and be a good father to the babies you’ve spawned, if you walk out on Amanda and your children — and I can see it in your eyes that you want to — you’re a worthless man. Seriously. Men have a bad reputation as it is, with the wars we’re always starting, and our enslavement of other races, and our inability to put our own socks in the hamper. Don’t give us another black eye by abandoning your kids. We’ll come after you, we men will.
THE SYSTEM. I’m including a lot of entities in this category. The schools probably need to do a better job of teaching sex education — having it taught by actual teachers instead of gym coaches would be a good start — but that’s an issue for another day. The welfare system is a lifesaver in some cases, and I suppose it’s reasonable that Amanda wouldn’t have a job — how is she going to work when she has seven kids under the age of 5? — but there’s gotta be a limit somewhere. But how would that work? I mean, there are babies involved here. We can’t just say, “Sorry, we’re not gonna help you with those,” can we? That would be punishing the innocent kids, not their irresponsible mother.
The solution you’re probably already thinking of but don’t want to say it is to sterilize Amanda so she can’t get pregnant again. Admit it, that’s your gut instinct. But we don’t really do forced sterilization in the United States anymore. It’s had a negative connotation ever since the Nazis tried it. They ruined it for everyone, just like the square mustache and the goose-step.
So what can be done? We can’t force her not to have any more children, and we can’t in good conscience cut off her welfare. The state could take the children and put them in non-welfare-funded foster homes, but that seems a bit harsh. It’s not like Amanda is mistreating them. She seems to love them and want them. She just can’t, you know, support them. In other words, as usual, I don’t actually have any solutions. I just want to make jokes at the expense of the people who cause the problems.
I said earlier that Amanda’s an idiot for letting herself get pregnant so many times before she’s even out of her teens. But I should clarify that, because really, you know what? Have all the kids you want at whatever age you want. It’s not a wise choice, and it’s not what I would do, but hey, free country. Knock yourself out. None of our busines. Squeeze out all the babies you want — as long as you can support them. As soon as you start stubbornly insisting on having children despite having demonstrated that you can’t afford the ones you already have, that’s when it becomes our business, because we’re the ones who have to pay for them.
Shouldn’t the taxpayers have been consulted before Amanda got pregnant this last time? Shouldn’t there have been a referendum on the ballot or something? Isn’t this taxation without representation? After all, we’re feeding the kids, yet we get no say in how they’re raised, what schools they go to, what TV shows they watch, what their bedtime is. We have all the financial obligations of parenthood with none of the perks. That’s not fair. I want visitation rights. In exchange for the child support I pay through my tax dollars, I want the most adorable pair of twins to come stay with me for one weekend a year. Kids love me. I’m a great uncle. I do the thing where I push on their nose and make a “honk” sound, like a clown nose. Always gets a laugh.
So either I get a set of twins one weekend a year, or I stop paying taxes. That’s my final offer. Take it or leave it, federal government.
In the SnideCast, I included some audio clips of Amanda and her mother from the TV news story I linked to. This is probably in violation of something. Mostly I wanted you to hear Amanda say "tooken."
Since I'm such a bleeding-heart liberal, this is normally the kind of situation that would get lots of sympathy and compassion from me. Except that no one seems to be suffering. The kids are well taken care of, and the mother is apparently delighted to be a mom. And since no sympathy is called for, all I have left is being annoyed. Situations like this are why some people think we should do away with welfare altogether, though I think that would be throwing out the multiple-birth babies with the bathwater.
I have never used the word "referendum" in a column before, and possibly not at all, ever, in my life.