Are you ready to be a parent?

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Preparation for parenthood is not just a matter of reading books and
decorating 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 chair down the front. Leave it there for nine months. After
nine months, remove 10% of the beans.

Men: To prepare for paternity, go the local drug store, tip the
contents of your wallet on the counter, and tell the pharmacist to
help himself. Next, go to the supermarket. Arrange to have your
salary paid directly to its head office. Go home. Pick up the paper
and 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 wild. Suggest ways in
which they might improve their child's sleeping habits, toilet
training, table manners, and overall behavior. Enjoy it -- it's the
last time in your life that you will have all the answers.

3. To discover how the nights feel, walk around the living room from
5 p.m. until 10 p.m. carrying a wet bag weighing approximately 8-12
pounds. At 10 p.m. put the bag down, set the alarm for midnight, and
go to sleep. Get up at 12 a.m. and walk around the living room again
with the bag until 1 a.m. Put the alarm on for 3 a.m. Since you can't
go back to sleep, get up at 2 a.m. and make a pot of tea. Go to bed
at 2:45 a.m. Get up again at 3 a.m. when the alarm goes off, sing
songs in the dark until 4 a.m. Put the alarm on for 5 a.m. 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 stick
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

6. Get an egg carton. Using a pair of scissors and a can of paint,
turn it into an alligator. Now get a toilet paper tube. Using only
scotch tape and a piece of foil, turn it into a Christmas tree. Last,
take a milk container, a ping pong ball, and an empty packet of CoCo
Puffs and make an exact replica of the Eiffel Tower.
Congratulations, you have just qualified for a place on the play
group committee.

7. Forget the Miata and buy the mini-van. 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 bag of chocolate cookies. Mash them down
the back seats. Run a garden rake along both sides of the car. There!

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 again. Walk down it
again. Walk very slowly down the road for 5 minutes. Stop to inspect
minutely every cigarette butt, 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 all the neighbors come
out and stare at you. Give up and go back in the house. You're 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 the nearest thing you can find
to a pre-school child with you. 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 the ceiling and swing it from side
to side. Now get a bowl of soggy Fruit Loops and attempt to spoon it
into the hole of the swaying melon by pretending to be an airplane.
Continue until half of the Fruit Loops are 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 child.

12. Learn the names of every character from 'Barney and Friends',
'Sesame street', and 'Power Rangers'. When you find yourself singing,
"I love you, you love me" at work, you finally qualify as a parent.

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