I love my nieces and nephews. A lot. Even a little crazily. I love my godson deeply and loyally. I love my friends’ children passionately and with total commitment. But every now and then I have that deep and bubbly feeling of joy at being childless.

It is exam time at my friends’ houses. They are studying maths and biology, and spelling and science. Children are pale and panicked and angry and quiet. At my nephew’s house he gets ready for his exams and he is only 10. At my brother’s house the quiet conversations are attached to the guilt of not having registered a 10 month old in school yet. At another friend the babies are at school and naughty. Some friends have kids in matric (yes, yes, I know it’s not called that anymore), and the parents and kids are hollow eyed and crazed.

There are kids who need to learn to swim, and kids who need extra lessons. Kids who love drama and hate everything else. Kids who refuse to put on clothes, or take them off. There are kids who are being bullied and kids who are being ignored. Kids who don’t reach their potential and kids who just haven’t got any.

Right now I can hear Dylan from up the road shouting at his brother. Yesterday he was sick. I think it was nerves. Today he sounds fine. It is a loud and shrieking street game, post bath, where he and his brother and cousin are in pj’s and gowns. But soon he will go inside, to his mother and father, and granny. And I will forget about him entirely as I go about my stuff. I love it when he pops in to visit. I love going up country to see my family of little people. But I am so glad I don’t have them in my home.