My closest thing to a major regret or mistake: I wish I had more
kids. Lots more. I wouldn't trade my three sons for the world. But in
retrospect, nothing has been more rewarding than simply enlarging my
family. When my wife and I found out we were having twins, I was
terrified. But during our second pregnancy, I hoped for a second pair -
Sometimes people ask me, "What's the point of having another kid?."
I always retort, "What's the point of having another friend?" Laugh if
you must, but (almost) every person is a beautiful and unique
snowflake. To share the gift of life with another piece of yourself, to
witness a reboot of the human drama, to see The Simpsons through fresh eyes - all are literally awesome. The cost of another child seems trivial by comparison...
Most of the other economists claim to have a vast list of mistakes. But the worse mistakes they claim to have made strike me as totally defensible by the Stiglerian standard of "If you never make a mistake raising your kids, you're depriving them of a lot of childhood fun." Except for Steve Levitt's:
[One day I decided to take the two girls for a walk in the
[low-friction jogging] stroller. I wheeled them out the front door and turned back to lock the
door behind me. It was at that moment that this frictionless miracle of
a stroller decided to demonstrate its powers. I turned back in time to
see the stroller rolling down the slightest of inclines outside our
front door. Before I could catch it, it smashed down the five steps
leading to the sidewalk...
Being the lazy parent that I am, of course, I had not bothered to do
any of the restraining straps on the kids. Somehow the stroller
remained upright. Somehow neither of the kids were thrown out. It was
still gaining speed when I caught it just before the next set of steps.
I'm an absent-minded professor too. But once you attain this self-knowledge, you need to condition yourself to design and rigidly follow safety protocols before you start to daydream.