I used to say kids aren’t expensive. I used to say really stupid things.

OPINION: Of all the insane things I’ve alleged, suggested or claimed, kids not being expensive is the worst take I’ve ever made. 

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Editor’s note: The following article is an op-ed, and the views expressed are the author’s own. Read more opinions on theGrio.

I used to say some foolish things. For instance, I used to be one of those people who would tell you that kids don’t cost that much. That response would usually be a retort to a person who said they didn’t want to have kids because of the money you have to spend. Now, I realize that statement was terribly misguided, at best, and an outright lie, at worst, and I really have no idea why I’d say such poppycock. 

Between the constant cost of diapers, formula (if not breast-feeding), clothing and the granddaddy of them all — daycare — even if you live in a relatively low-cost city, the costs can get crazy. Don’t even get me started on kids birthday parties and activities and car seats and, well, the costs just start to stack at some point. Honestly, my eyes are getting blurry just thinking about it. 

And that’s before SCHOOL and real activities start, which brings me to a statement that I must make: Nobody needs four kids anymore; it’s too expensive to have that many kids. Let me explain. 

I have four kids. I love my children with all my heart. They’re fun and nice and well-behaved and really a benefit to my life. As I’m writing this, my youngest just threw an edible goldfish at me and it made me smile. Kids can be so adorbs. 

But here’s the thing: As kids grow, they just keep getting more and more expensive. And obviously, the more kids you have the bigger the costs. The fun part is that you don’t even know how to anticipate some of those costs. That’s where the real fun and adventure comes in. 

Allow me to share some of those unanticipated costs that catch you off guard. 

When I was a youth, I played sports. To call myself very good at any of the sports I played would be an exaggeration, but I could hold my own on any court or field. At the very least, I didn’t embarrass myself or my family. My kids are different. Two of them are really good at soccer, and my daughter plays volleyball. As a responsible parent, it is my duty to give them the best opportunities possible for success. My soccer-playing boys are in elementary school so they play in various leagues. You know what I didn’t know was super expensive? TRAVEL TEAMS FOR SPORTS. 

My goodness. Between the two boys, we’re shelling out thousands and thousands of dollars for them to play in leagues and get proper coaching. This is now a cost we’re going to have EVERY SINGLE YEAR. Volleyball? You’d think you just need a net and a ball, ya know, like soccer, but whew chile is that an expensive sport as well. Why is it so expensive? 


Well, it’s because I don’t have mediocre children. My children are good and that means they get to do the things the good kids do, and the things that good kids do cost money. They’re currently enrolled in a soccer camp for Real Madrid FC. Yes, THAT Real Madrid, one of the premier soccer clubs in the world. That … costs. And once those costs start, they never stop. You have to continue to do the things that give them the shots to be the best versions of themselves. My youngest hasn’t even started any of this yet. In two years, I will have four kids all doing something athletic that costs me all of my arms and legs, because I’m a good parent (and hopefully will be a billionaire in about a decade when my kids make the big leagues). 

Aight, let’s say you don’t have kids that are good at sport things. Lucky for you. Let me tell you how having so many kids (or kids in general really) hits you with unanticipated costs. Three of my four kids take showers. But apparently they’re tropical because they just stand in the water for what feels like an eternity before ACTUALLY getting clean in the shower. They just like the water. So they stand in the water. I have to TELL them to start using soap. My water bills have SKYROCKETED over the past year. These kids hit the showers and try to see if they can each use up all of the hot water; maybe it’s a race to see who can make sure that dad can only shower in cold water. Those same kids who use all the water also somehow like to use as much soap as humanly possible at one time. On one hand, that’s cool; they’re clean. On the other hand, I’m over here at Target buying multiple $10 bottles of soap (the prices are through the roof these days!) that will all be gone in a week. Hold me. 

Don’t even get me started on going out to eat. Or having to buy clothes. THE CLOTHES. One pair of shorts at Target is like $8-$10 for the kids. But I have three to buy clothes for (my daughter picks out her own stuff — also not cheap) and you can already spend $200 in Target without thinking about it. Once you start trying to outfit your kids? Donezo. 

Shoes? My kids are at the “I want cool kicks like you, dad!” phase. And that means that every time I buy a pair of shoes for any kid, unless they want Chuck Taylor’s, I’m spending like $100. If you want to travel with the kids who just got new shoes, it’s insane. I see people with two kids doing family vacations to the Moon and Uranus and stuff and I’m like, “that trip would be like $8,000 for plane (or spaceship) tickets alone!” 

And my kids LOVE snacks. They go through snacks (which are supposed to be sanctioned by mom or dad) faster than they go through soap, which is crazy because they also eat breakfast, lunch and dinner. Somehow, I will spend $100 on snacks on Monday and by Friday, they’re gone. Again, hold me. 

Why am I sharing all of this? It’s because kids are mad expensive. They always need something, nevermind want something. The things that kids need are costly, and most of us do the best we can. But when you start adding in several kids who are all growing, hungry, athletic, smart, clean kids, the monthly expenses just get insane. 

I used to say kids didn’t cost that much. Never listen to me again. 

Panama Jackson theGrio.com

Panama Jackson is a columnist at theGrio and host of the award-winning podcast, “Dear Culture” on theGrio Black Podcast Network. He writes very Black things, drinks very brown liquors, and is pretty fly for a light guy. His biggest accomplishment to date coincides with his Blackest accomplishment to date in that he received a phone call from Oprah Winfrey after she read one of his pieces (biggest) but he didn’t answer the phone because the caller ID said “Unknown” (Blackest).