Long long ago, on a planet very far away in time, animals popped out of their eggs all ready to combat the environment so that they could grow up and make their own eggs.
That planet was Earth, and even today there are many animals who pop out of their eggs knowing exactly what they have to do to survive. Turtles are a great example. Mom is long gone when they scramble from their leathery egg onto the sand, looking for the welcoming ocean. The chances of them getting there are slim, but that’s how the turtle plays the game. Mom and Dad turtle are nowhere to be seen.
Somewhere along the line, that changed. A stray cosmic ray, or the crazy thing we call sex mixed up the DNA so that Mom and Dad took an interest in their tiny replacements. The replacements hung around for a while after hatching, got bigger and smarter, and then left the nest when they were ready.
Bad news for Mom and Dad, they had more work after the eggs hatched. Ugh.
Good news for Mom and Dad, they could have fewer eggs to start with. I guess that’s mostly good news for Mom.
The other good news for both Mom and Dad is that their offspring had much better chances of surviving long enough to have more offspring. That means grandkids. Or grand-eggs, I’m not sure.
The whole idea of an egg needing extra time to grow outside of the egg is gestation outside of its normal place. I’m calling it external gestation. We usually call it childhood, especially if it’s for childs.
A sort of generational arms race happens. The child knows Mom and Dad are going to protect it after getting out of the egg, so it starts taking longer to grow outside of the egg. That’s why normal primate babies take a year or so to wean off Mom, while human babies take much longer.
Modern human babies now require years of “childhood.” I know of some that are still going through their childhood. They live in their parent’s basement and have even celebrated 40 birthdays.
The point is that childhood is a tool. It’s a way for the species to be better prepared for the future. It’s better for the parents, because they don’t need to make as many kids. It’s better for the kids, because they get helped out a lot early on when it counts the most.
So the next time you see some kids having fun, don’t be jealous that you have to toil away at the daily grind. Appreciate the fact that they are using a tool so that their lives, and even yours, will be better tomorrow.
Now get to work.