Preparation for Parenthood

Preparation for parenthood is not just a matter of reading books and deco-
rating the nursery. Here are 12 simple tests for expectant parents to take to
prepare themselves for the real-life experience of being a  mother or father.

1. Women: to prepare for maternity, put on a dressing gown and stick a beanbag
down the front. Leave it there for 9 months. After 9 months, take out 10% of
the beans.  Men: to prepare for paternity, go to the local chemist, tip the
contents of your wallet on the counter, and tell the pharmacist to help him-
self. Then go to the supermarket. Arrange to have your salary paid directly to
their head office. Go home. Pick up the paper. Read it for the last time.

2. Before you finally go ahead and have children, find a couple who are
already parents and berate them about their methods of discipline, lack of
patience, appallingly low tolerance levels, and how they have allowed their
children to run riot. Suggest ways in which they might improve their child's
sleeping habits, toilet training, table manners and overall behavior. Enjoy it
- it'll be the last time in your life that you will have all the answers.

3. To discover how the nights will feel, walk around the living room from 5pm
to 10pm carrying a wet bag weighing approximately 8-12 lbs. At 10pm put the
bag down, set the alarm for midnight, and go to sleep. Get up at 12 and walk
around the living room again, with the bag, till 1am. Put the alarm on for
3am. As you can't get back to sleep get up at 2am and make a drink. Go to bed
at 2.45am. Get up again at 3am when the  alarm goes off. Sing songs in the
dark until 4am. Put the alarm on for 5am. Get up. Make breakfast. Keep this up
for 5 years. Look cheerful.

4. Can you stand the mess children make? To find out, smear peanut butter onto
the sofa and jam onto the curtains. Hide a fish finger behind the stereo and
leave it there all summer. Stick  your fingers in the flowerbeds then rub them
on the clean walls. Cover the stains with crayons. How does that look?

5. Dressing small children is not as easy as it seems: first buy an octopus
and a string bag. Attempt to put the octopus into the string bag so that none
of the arms hang out. Time allowed for this - all morning.

6. Take an egg carton. Using a pair of scissors and a pot of paint turn it
into an alligator. Now take a toilet tube. Using only scotch tape and a piece
of foil, turn it into a Christmas cracker. Last, take a milk container, a ping
pong ball, and an empty packet of Coco Pops and make an exact replica of the
Eiffel Tower. Congratulations. You have just qualified for a place on the
playgroup committee.

7. Forget the Miata and buy a Taurus. And don't think you can leave it out in
the driveway spotless and shining. Family cars don't look like that. Buy a
chocolate ice cream bar and put it in the glove compartment. Leave it there.
Get a quarter. Stick it in the cassette player. Take a family-size packet of
chocolate cookies. Mash them down the back seats. Run a garden rake along both
sides of the car. There. Perfect.

8. Get ready to go out. Wait outside the toilet for half an hour. Go out the
front door. Come in again. Go out. Come back in.  Go out again. Walk down the
front path. Walk back up it. Walk down it again. Walk very slowly down the
road for 5 minutes. Stop to inspect minutely every cigarette end, piece of
used chewing gum, dirty tissue and dead insect along the way. Retrace your
steps. Scream that you've had as much as you can stand, until the neighbors
come out and stare at you. Give up and go back into the house. You are now
just about ready to try taking a small child for a walk.

9. Always repeat everything you say at least five times.

10. Go to your local supermarket. Take with you the nearest thing you can find
to a pre-school child - a fully grown goat is excellent. If you intend to have
more than one child, take more than one goat. Buy your week's groceries
without letting the goats out of your sight. Pay for everything the goats eat
or destroy. Until you can easily accomplish this do not even contemplate
having children.

11. Hollow out a melon. Make a small hole in the side. Suspend it from the
ceiling and swing it from side to side. Now get a bowl of soggy Weetabix and
attempt to spoon it into the swaying melon by pretending to be an aeroplane.
Continue until half the Weetabix is gone. Tip the rest into your lap, making
sure that a lot of it falls on the floor. You are now ready to feed a 12-month
old baby.

12. Learn the names of every character from Postman Pat, Fireman Sam and
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. When you find yourself singing "Postman Pat" at
work, you finally qualify as a parent.