Parenting a big responsibility for something just anyone can do

Canada is my favorite foreign country. Canada has nice people, they speak English and their plumbing seems to work. On foreign medical missions, flushing a toilet is often like pulling a lever on a slot machine. Who knows what will happen.

I applied for a Nexus card, which is a “trusted traveler” pass that allows border check-in with a phone call. Now, I understand that 61-year-old surgeons from Montana frequently cross into Canada to commit terrorist acts, but still, the amount of documentation, forms and interviews required seemed excessive.

Think of all the things you apply for. I’ve taken at least 12 surgery certification exams, not to mention numerous medical society applications, hospital privileges, insurances, loans, permits, etc. Forms forever.

However, the most complicated, challenging, difficult and important job I have ever undertaken has a unique feature. It requires no permit, license, training, competence, experience or qualifications.

I’m looking at a picture of my three children now, in their mid- to late-20s, thinking of all the things I’ve done in my life, and I probably feel less competent about being a parent than anything else.

So here is this enormously important task, the creation and nurturing of a human being, and any bozo can do it.

My colleague, surgeon Barry McKenzie, was clearly frustrated this last Saturday morning when he had to take care of a group of drunk and mangled 14-year-olds. He’s recently dealt with unrestrained four-year-olds thrown out of mini-vans onto concrete highways, kids crushed under four-wheelers and the trauma resulting from physical abuse.

“I would like to see parents start doing their jobs.”

I have a number of questions for the Almighty when I auger in, and the first one will be regarding procreation.

“OK, God, we all know that lust renders everything above the brain stem completely inoperable. Is that a great time to make a baby?”

I have never understood how any sane being, much less a deity, would couple the most profound of actions — creating a child — with sex. Let’s have five shots of tequila and do us some heart surgery!

Those of us in medicine and social services who take care of children have complex feelings, to say the least. The methamphetamine and opiate scourges have caused an explosion of kids in foster care.

Is it a fundamental right, a core civil liberty, to create children indiscriminately and fling them on the state? Should we actually enforce laws regarding child restraint? At what point do individual liberties give way to preventing the suffering of children and the abuse of the taxpayer? How do we hold men accountable for careless reproductive practices and subsequent failure to support their issue?

Politically we avoid such discussions — too hot to handle. Perhaps we prefer to fill up our ERs and prisons.

I’m looking at my little plastic Nexus card.

I wonder if I would get a parent card? I should ask my children.

I think I will wait a few years.

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