The Third Child

The Third Child aged 6. Or maybe 7...

The Third Child aged 6. Or maybe 7…

“So why did you have a third child?”

As the third child was asking the question, it seemed to merit an answer.

“I’m going out for a walk,” I’d said to him an hour earlier. “Do you want to come?”

To my surprise he’d said ‘yes.’ And here we were on the cliffs – as always, straight into a serious conversation.

“How long did you and Mum live together before you got married?”

Where had that come from? Jane and I had suspicions that our youngest son’s nights out ‘just with my friends’ were no longer nights out with his friends. But he’s 17; he’s entitled to his secrets – and to ask the questions, apparently.

“About a year. We got together – hang on, let me get my dates sorted out.”

“It’s alright, Dad. Mum’s not here. It doesn’t matter if you forget your anniversary.”

“Alright then. A year. We got married in the March, Tom was born in October.”

(I know what you’re thinking. It was March 16th. About 11/00 in the morning. In Jamaica. And yes, remarkably hot in a suit…)

“And then you had Jessica…”

“Fairly quickly. We weren’t in the first flush of youth. We had to get on with it.”

“So why did you have a third child?”

“Good question. We had two lovely children. Boy and a girl. Arm and a leg in each corner. Your Mum was ready to go back to work…”

As I say, it demanded an answer. A proper answer.

“OK, this is my answer. You need to ask your Mum for her’s when you get home.”

“So, what is it?”

“Tony Blair.”


“Tony Blair. You heard me. At the time I felt deep disgust and loathing for the man. It really irritated me that he had three children and I had two. I was jealous.”

“So I owe my life to Tony Blair?”

“That’s one way of looking at it. But there is another reason.”

“What’s that?”

“Red wine, possibly. We couldn’t decide whether to stick or twist. We said if Mum wasn’t pregnant by Easter we’d agree that two was enough. So we let nature take its course…”

We walked on in silence while my son digested the fact that his presence on the planet was due to jealousy of the Prime Minister and a bottle of Shiraz.

“One more reason,” I offered helpfully. “I love being a Dad.”

But that was far too simple. How could I explain this to my son? “You know how much I love you three – ”

“Tom didn’t empty the dishwasher this morning.”

“A father’s love will survive that. No, I love my children. But I love making children as well.”

“You mean the sex?”

“No, I don’t mean that. This may be astonishing to a teenager, but your Mother and I have had sex more than three times. I mean creating life. Watching you grow. Seeing how you’re all different. If it were socially acceptable – and I wasn’t married to Mum – I’d cheerfully father a hundred children.”

“You said you can’t afford three of us.”

“Yes, there is that as well…”

We carried on walking. But an hour later we were home. And Ben was back on the attack. “Why did you have a third child, Mum? Dad said I’m only here because he was jealous of Tony Blair.”

Jane smiled. “I always wanted three children, darling. I’m the third child.”

“Oh yes,” I said, “I’d forgotten that. I am as well.”

“In fact,” my wife said. “I’d probably have had another one.”

“Missed your chance there, Dad,” Ben smirked. “Just think. You could have had sex four times…”

Thanks for reading this post. If you enjoyed it – and you’d like something light and “very, very funny” to read – you can buy the ‘Best Dad I Can Be’ sample book with 27 of my favourite posts covering all the years I’ve been writing: it’s all of 99p on your Kindle. Alternatively the first chronological book, ‘Half Dad Half Fish’ which covers the time when the children were 9, 7 and 4 is available here


  1. This is funny. I’d like to know how the sex talk went wit you kids.

  2. When our older son who is now 31 was 3, he came to me one day and asked, “Mom, how do you make a human?” I wasn’t expecting this question for at least 10 more years and I fully planned to punt it (American football term) to my husband who unfortunately, wasn’t present at that moment, so I bravely said, “Well, Dad is a doctor, so I think you should ask him when he gets home.” This seemed to satisfy him and he wandered off. He returned a half hour later quite proud of himself. “Mom, I figured out how to make a human! You make it from Legos.” 🙂

    • Ah, I spent years waiting to have ‘that talk’ with my sons. But they both seemed to prefer to discover everything online… And yep, Lego or Playmobile is the answer. Tom used to sit for hours taking heads and arms off, re-arranging his “men” until he found one he was satisfied with. PS – sorry for the late reply: away with youngest son last week

  3. Ha, my wife and I also had the same stick-or-twist discussion. I was genuinely on the fence about trying for our third child, but I’m glad we had ours anyway. Well, most of the time.

    • The third child adds a lot of complications to life, doesn’t he/she? Remember when I realised that cars and holidays especially were designed for mum, dad and two children…

  4. Brilliant what a great read funny but also serious I’m a third child with 17 years between me and the oldest I think I was the midlife mistake lol love reading your posts

    • 17 years – that’s a serious gap, Nige! We’d have been happy with two, but we both really wanted a third. But you have no idea how miffed I was when Tony Blair went and had a fourth…

  5. Great post. There’s a six year age gap between our third and fourth and the other day, inevitably, our 17 year old fourth son asked me if he was an accident. I said “no,” obviously. Thing is, even if he had been, I’d have told him we would have loved him just as much.

    • Astonished you found the time/energy to have sex with three young children! Then again, young children do sleep: there’s no more effective passion killer than a teenage daughter in the next bedroom. “What was that noise last night? It’s just that I thought Dad was dying…”

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