My wife has been dropping little hints here and there lately about a topic I'm in no shape to discuss at this time. So I try to distract her attention by changing the subject or setting the nearest piece of furniture on fire.

The topic is having another child, which to me, with two 7-year-olds and a 1-year-old in the house, is like a drowning man contemplating his next visit to a water park. She's not pushy or anything. She just says things like, "You know, maybe if the stars align, and we win the lottery "..." Or she gets even more sneaky when discussing the future, saying, "Yeah, that would be great to make more money and have a bigger house "... you know, in case we have another baby and we could have a garden and a pool and a hot tub and a pond and awesome giant trees with a yard big enough for a herd of unicorns and "..."

So cute when they sleep

That conversation pretty much stopped when she said the word "baby." I couldn't hear the rest because I was suddenly doubled over with stomach pain.

It's not that I'm against having another child. I love children — when they're quiet and doing what they're told. Which is pretty much limited to when they're sleeping. But I haven't closed the door, despite being 42, not making a ton of money and the constant buzzing in my head, caused by my kids, that will eventually institutionalize me.

So I finally addressed the topic last weekend, giving my wife three conditions. The first being that we get a bigger house. Which isn't happening in the near future unless one drops out of the sky. The other is that she works closer to home, so that I'm not taking care of screaming kids and scrambling to find the tranquilizers before and after work.

A tad more testosterone

The other condition is, of course, is that she promises to make me a boy.

I have two stepdaughters and two daughters, ranging in age from 1 to 20. Which means I've been exposed to every age of girl hell. I wouldn't trade a moment with any of them (I have to say that in case they decide to discover what I do for a living and accidentally read this). But, just for once, I would like to play catch with someone who, after a couple throws, doesn't run off to chase a butterfly because she thinks it will lead her to the secret fairy colony. Just for once I'd like a child to stay home and watch football with Dad, instead of laughing hysterically when I ask, then heading straight out the door to go shopping.

I would like to not take a deep breath and count to 10 when seeing a boy give one of my girls more than a casual glance. Just once, I'd like to have a child not stomp off wailing in tears because I suggested it may not be the best thing for her to slather her baby sister in more makeup than Joan Collins wore on "Dynasty."

My wife responded by telling me it's the man who determines the baby's gender. That's ridiculous. I watch Karate movies. I know how to operate a rototiller. They don't come any more manly than me. If it was up to me, I'd be Earth's version of Jor-El, making a son impervious to bullets, trains and reality television.

Come to think of it, I need to impose a few more conditions on this whole making-another-baby thing, My agent will be asking her representatives for the following, if and when negotiations open:

  • Two annual weekends in Las Vegas without children. My wife is, of course, invited to one of them. Despite being a formidable foe at the bargaining table, I'll admit the woman is an absolute howl in Vegas.

  • Two timeouts per day. When things get hairy, I'll be able to throw up my hands in the traditional "T" and walk back to my room to take a breather and consult with my Life Coach (the dog).

  • My wife must relinquish control of the family to me at Christmas and trips to Disneyland. This is already mostly the case but — trust me — this can be a problem when a wife no longer finds it amusing. Along those lines, I also need control of the television on Sundays from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Monday nights, from September through the first week of February.

    If we can agree on these modest concessions, I think we might have a deal. It will be nice to have a little bit of leverage when we end up with female triplets.

    Reach Tony Hicks at thicks@bayareanewsgroup.com. Read his blog, Insert Foot, at www.ibabuzz.com/insertfoot or follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/insertfoot.