Thursday, August 30, 2007

Are you ready for parenthood?

I have four lovely children who are a real treasure in my life and I wouldn't trade them for anything. Well, maybe some peace, quiet and sanity. Wait, that's what I traded for them in the first place. No, I really wouldn't trade them for anything. It's been the toughest job I've ever loved, and every day brings me a new wonder from these four little people (well, not so little) who have elbowed their way into my life and heart.

I've been a parent for more than 13 years and it might be a good idea to share some of my accumulated experience to you younger folks who are new to parenting, or haven't even started yet. After all, if you don't listen to your elders, you can never benefit from their experience, and they're going to keep blabbing on any way, so you might as well listen in case something useful comes out.

Today it occurred to me that some of you might be wondering whether it's time to stop being arrested adolescents, stop living solely for your own benefit, and have something to do with your spare time other than gaze lovingly at each other over dinner out. Three times a week. At places that don't have children's menus.

I'm talking procreation here. Cooperating with the Good Lord in the only real act of creation that still goes on, that of a new soul... or more specifically, giving it a place to live in a wrinkled little pink thing that looks like Winston Churchill and won't stop crying for anything, at least until the grandparents show up, just to make you look like an idiot.

In other words, are you ready to have kids?

Well, here I've created a handy checklist. You need to ask yourself, "Am I ready and willing to do all of these things?" If you are hesitant, for any reason, you should think twice about loosing your progeny upon this crazy world.

Anyhow, these activities represent things that will undoubtedly happen to you at some time or another, so it's better to be prepared than to be caught by surprise. These are all things, or approximations of things, that have actually happened to me, so I know what of I speak. Please note, some of these get a little gross. We are talking about children here. They are hard-wired by billions of years of evolution to do some really disgusting things, often in a surprisingly large radius. You have been warned.

Rick's List of Things You Should Be Willing to Do If You Want to Be A Parent
  1. Let's get it out of the way first. Take a poop on the floor. Go ahead. Drop trou, squat down and lay a nice big one on the carpet. You are not allowed to look for a nice uncluttered piece of linoleum, just go right there in the center of the room, preferably in a high-traffic area. You think that's bad? Now step in it and walk around. (I told you this would be tough.)
  2. Take ten objects that you treasure, regardless of their value, in monetary or sentimental terms. Arrange them in a nice row in front of you. Selecting at random, do the following: Drop one in a bucket of water. Smash one into pieces, not small enough to just throw away, but too small to easily fix with glue. Throw a third in the trash. You are not allowed alternate choices.
  3. Drop a bowl of food on the floor.
  4. Take three alarm clocks. Set them all to some time between midnight and 6 a.m., preferably different times every day. Put them in another room, so you'll have to get up to turn them off. Do this for a month straight. Take turns if you want. It's fun.
  5. On one occasion when you wake up in the middle of the night for an alarm, take a bag of flour or something else that weighs several pounds. Set the kitchen timer for 45 minutes. Walk around the house carrying the bag of flour for the whole time. You may talk to it, or sing to it. You may not use foul language. You may not give up early and make biscuits.
  6. Stand up in the middle of church, or some other place where some decorum is observed, and start screaming for several seconds. Walk out with an embarrassed look on your face. For bonus points, throw up first.
  7. Drop a bowl of food on the floor.
  8. Just once, drop everything you are doing at some random time, preferably when it causes real inconvenience. Rush to the emergency room. Wait around for four hours, and then watch someone get stitches. Up close. Help hold the patient down if necessary.
  9. Take some crayons and draw a nice picture. On the wall. If you mess up, just move a few feet and start over. If you're having trouble, books offer lots more room for practice.
  10. Buy three story books. Read each of them out loud once a night for a year. Try not to get bored.
  11. This one involves a friend, or your spouse, although he or she might not be a friend afterwards. Ask your friend, at some time in the next couple days, when you aren't looking, or perhaps aren't even awake, do one of the following: a.) Dump a box of wooden blocks over your head. b.) Run up out of the blue and kick you in a very tender or sensitive region. c.) Give you an uppercut to the jaw., or d.) Throw up on you.
  12. Turn on all the lights in your house. Leave them on for an entire month. You can only turn off lights in a room you are currently in. If you leave the room, you must turn them back on.
  13. At least once, when you park your car in a public place, walk off without closing one of the doors.
  14. Drop a bowl of food on the floor.
  15. Ask your spouse to announce suddenly one day, ten minutes before he or she needs to go somewhere important, that he or she has either no clean underwear, pants or shoes. And I mean "not clean" as in "not currently wearable, period". Improvise if necessary.
  16. Drink a very large glass of water. Watch TV for a couple hours straight. Don't miss a second of what's on, even the commercials. You know what I mean.
  17. If you have a computer, smear jelly on your hands. Then use it. Make sure to touch the monitor repeatedly. Don't clean the gunk out of the mouse.
  18. Punch or kick a hole in the wall. Then patch it. Try to make it not noticeable when you are finished. Pretty hard, huh?
  19. Another time in the parking lot, throw your car door open with excessive force. Give yourself bonus points if you are parked next to a Mercedes. Write a nice note apologizing to the owner and leave your contact information.
  20. Drop a bowl of food on the floor.
  21. Dump a large bucket of water on the floor. Or perhaps on a piece of furniture. Give it a few minutes to soak in before cleaning it up. Don't forget, things get moldy if they aren't thoroughly dried.
  22. Buy a video tape or DVD of a TV show or movie. It doesn't matter which one. Play it a couple times a day for three months straight. Keep it turned up loud. Don't switch to a different one. Shows with annoying, nasal-talking puppets give bonus points, but you are by no means required to choose them.
  23. Pick a day and start throwing Hot Wheels around the room for several minutes. Do not attempt to avoid walls, windows or siblings.
  24. If you live in an apartment or other high-density housing, turn up the TV unreasonably loud. Late at night. Then leave for an hour. While this isn't quite as annoying to neighbors as an extended bout of colic, it can be quite effective.
  25. Drop a bowl of food on the floor.
OK. After looking over this list, if you aren't ready and willing to do each one of these things, sometimes more than once, then you just aren't ready for parenthood. Once you become a parent, they will be done for you. Repeatedly. You might prevent some occurrences, but you won't prevent them all.

You have been warned.


You can go to this site upload a photo and become Simpsonized. I have to say that I am fairly impressed by how the process works. It works better for some faces than others, but it always manages to be somewhere in the ballpark. There are some non-trivial analysis algorithms going on and I have to say it's one of the neatest things I've seen online in a while.

Of course, I had to Simpsonize all of us, and here we are: