A ten-point training plan for parenthood

For those of you who are expectant, here are some simple ideas which can prepare you for the real thing. For those of you for whom it is too late, judge for yourselves how realistic these simulations are.

  1. Before you actually have children find a couple who are already parents and berate them about their lack of discipline, lack of patience, appallingly low tolerance levels and how they have let their children run riot. Suggest ways in which they might improve their childís sleeping habits, toilet training, table manners and behaviour. Enjoy it Ė itíll be the last time you have all the answers.
  2. Women Ė to prepare for maternity, put on a dressing gown and stick a large beanbag down the front. Wear this for nine months and then remove 10% of the beans.
  3. Men Ė to prepare for paternity, go to the local chemist, empty your wallet onto the counter and tell the pharmacist to help himself. Then go to the supermarket and arrange for your salary to be paid directly to head office. On your way home buy yourself a paper and read it for the last time.
  4. To discover what the night feels like, walk around in the evening for at least two hours, carrying a wet bag of sand over your shoulder. At 10pm put down the bag, set the alarm for midnight and get some hard-earned sleep. Get up at 12 and walk around with the bag until 1am. Put the alarm on for 3am. You wonít be able to get back to sleep so get up at 2am, make yourself a drink and watch TV. Crawl into bed at 2.45am and get up at 3am when the alarm goes off. Sing songs in the dark until 4am. Put the alarm on for 5am. Get up at 5am. Make breakfast and look cheerful. Keep this up for five years.
  5. Dressing a small child requires practice. First buy a live octopus and a string bag. Attempt to put the octopus into the bag so that none of the arms hang out. You have all morning to achieve this.
  6. Go shopping. Take a full grown goat to the supermarket as a substitute toddler. Take two goats for two toddlers. Do not let the goats out of your sight as you pick and pay for your weekly shopping and what the goats have eaten. Until this task becomes second nature donít even contemplate having children.
  7. Hollow out a melon and make a hole in one side. Suspend the melon from the ceiling and get it swinging from side to side. Now get a bowl of soggy Weetabix and attempt to spoon it into the melon whilst pretending to be an aeroplane. Continue until the Weetabix is almost used up and then tip the rest into your lap. You can now feed a twelve month old baby.
  8. Buy a brand new estate car. Stick a choc-ice in the glove compartment and leave it there. Put a 20p piece into the cassette player. Take a family sized pack of chocolate digestives and mash them down the back of the back seats. Oh, and donít forget to run a garden rake somewhere along the paintwork. Perfect!
  9. Get ready to go out. Wait outside the loo for half an hour. Go out through the front door, come back in again, go back out again. Then walk down the front path, walk back up it again, walk back down again and then start walking very, very slowly along the road for five minutes. Look at every stone, every insect (dead or alive) and each piece of litter. Retrace your steps before shouting loudly "Iíve had just about as much as I can stand" until the neighbours come out and stare at you. Give up and go back inside. This represents your first walk with a small child.
  10. Forget anything you ever knew: your telephone number, your friends names (it doesnít matter as you wonít have time to see them) and why you were coming upstairs when you get as far as the landing. Practice forgetting what youíve been told as soon as youíve been told it.

However, donít forget to perform the above course twice concurrently for a second child.

Susie Griffiths

© St Peter's Church, Nottingham
Last revised 31st October 1999