Playing with dolls as a child, acting as stand-in mum as a teenager, or
earning pocket-money as a baby-sitter is great training, but unrealistic
preparation for the rigours of parenting. Most of us want to get it
right and spend lots of time fantasising about having our own children -
but if we are at all normal, our fantasies are dominated by the loving,
cuddling enjoyment time, when we have the most lovable, cutest bundle of
love ever invented cradled in our arms. If only that's how it was .....
To test out your own (and partner's) personal readiness here are a few
small practical tests;
MESS TEST 1. Smear ice-cream into the carpet, peanut butter on the
couch and milk onto the cushions. Drop half-chewed lollies between the
couch cushions, and fish fingers under the sideboard. Leave for three
months, then laugh lovingly as you clean it all up.
2. Find a thoroughly rotten egg, wrap it up in a
face-flannel and place it gently in your washing machine amongst your
own delicate smalls. Then forget about it and ask your partner to hang
the washing out.
TOY TEST Buy a variety of good and broken toys from an expensive garage
sale. Take turns with your partner to randomly spread them around the
house when he/she is sleeping.
CAR TEST Purchase an infants car seat, lock it securely into the front
passenger seat then drive to a distant destination - taking turns at
driving or being passenger sitting in the back seat.
SUPERMARKET TEST Steal a small goat and take it to the supermarket when
you are doing your weekly shop. Without using rope or shackles or stun-gun keep it
with you at all times, and be happily responsible for any costs incurred.
FEEDING TEST Take a two-litre plastic milk bottle and part fill it with
tomato sauce. Swing this from a ceiling hook using a bungy cord, and
(without putting it in a head-lock) feed it mashed vegetables with a
teaspoon - reciting 'One for the cat...' and pretending to be the Rescue
Helicopter on a mission.
SLEEP TEST 1. Record in your own grizzliest voice,
"Maaa-um, my bed's
"I want a drink of water ....
"There's a mouse in my wall ...
"I got a itchy ......
"There's a aeroplane flying round my bed ...
Set these to play every fifteen minutes for three nights, during the
2. Spread toasted breadcrumbs through your bed before bedtime.
3. Find a small hyperactive dog, tuck it tightly in a bed and sing
until it goes to sleep. This won't work, so after half-an-hour pick it
up and dance around your darkened home (remembering that tonight was
your partner's turn to spread the toys around) for one hour, singing,
humming and cooing. When this fails too, gently throw the dog into the
car seat, tie a 'dummy' (pacifier) into its snout and drive around the
block ten times. Use this time to mentally prepare for your 9 a.m.
sales meeting later the same morning.
(With thanks and apologies to Bits and Pieces)