Dear Father Hood: am I ready to have children?
No, you’re not ready to have children. Don’t cry. I’m not suggesting that you’d be an unworthy addition to the parenting club. I’m simply stating that until a human being comes face to screaming purple face with a helpless newborn they have absolutely no comprehension of how difficult raising a dependent is.
Oh. Okay. So that means that reading ‘how to be a parent’ books, visiting ‘parental tips’ websites and attending antenatal classes is pointless, right? Wrong – I wouldn’t be putting together this website if I didn’t believe peer advice had some merit and I’d thoroughly recommend going to the antenatal classes. It simply means that there isn’t a book, website or training course on earth that can truly prepare you for the joy and elation of hearing baby’s first noise or the pain and frustration of a never-ending 2am crying fit.
Got that? Good. In that case, it’s time for you to buckle up and embark on the most topsy-turvy, learn-on-the-job roller coaster you will ever experience. And it’s time for me, to sign off with a bunch of random and unrealistic pre-birth ‘interactive experiences’ that might have gone some way to ensuring that I was ready to have children. Read, enjoy, maybe even giggle, but whatever you do DON’T try them at home.
Attention! It’s the 14-step Father Hood ‘Get Ready to have Children’ boot camp
1. Sleep prep
Get psyched for your parental quota of four hours of broken snooze per night by employing someone to wake you from your slumber with a variety of traumatic sounds at random times during the night. Note: to ensure this ‘experience’ is as close to real life as possible make sure you sing a lullaby, hold a 5-10kg weight and lunge for the duration of each interruption.
2. Problem solving prep
Taste the frustration of the no-obvious-reason crying fit by walking up to someone who does not speak your native tongue or understand sign language and attempting to ascertain whether they are upset because a) they’re tired, b) they’re hungry, c) they need to burp or d) they’ve soiled themselves.
3. Sterilisation prep
Simulate the joys of infection prevention by washing your hands at least 175 times a day.
4. Entertainment prep
Learn how to cope with feeling of being completely out of the popular culture loop by only watching television between the hours of 3am and 4.30am.
5. Fashion prep
Start to embrace the joys of parental ‘fashion’ by drastically reducing the time you have to get ready in the morning and wearing at least one item of clothing back to front or inside out per day.
6. Nappy prep part I: smell
Ready your nostrils for the kind of smells that will become commonplace when baby begins to eat real food by journeying down to your local public toilets, entering a cubicle and sticking your head in the bin.
7. Affection prep
Begin to appreciate how babies show their love by hitting yourself in the face 20 or 30 times in quick succession.
8. Hygiene prep
Nail the ‘new dad’ face and smile by erasing the concept of moisturiser from your mind and only brushing your teeth every third day.
9. Pram assembly prep
Get ready for the joys of putting up or taking down a pram while carrying a crying child by attempting to solve a Rubik’s Cube with one hand.
10. Reaction prep part I: flying objects
Gain insight into every meal your child is going to eat from 6 months onwards by getting your partner to fling a bunch of items in your general direction as quickly as she can. Extra points will be awarded for a) items replaced and re-thrown and b) books landing bang on your toe.
11. Nappy prep part II: moving babies
Get some idea of what changing a baby who has learned how to turn over is like by attempting to stick a nappy on your neighbour’s cat.
12. Milk prep
Journey into your rock ‘n’ roll future by asking every cafe, restaurant or pub you go into the following two questions. 1: Can you give me a bowl of hot water? 2: Do you have a baby change facility?
13. Reaction prep part II: falling babies
Train your fast twitch reflexes for baby’s ‘trying to walk but can’t balance’ stage with a series of two or three yard sprints towards the walls of your house while shouting “nooooo”.
14. Poop prep
What’s that smell? It’s you facing up to the grimmest reality of parenting, by smearing poop on your hands and arms at least once a day.
Class dismissed. Now go forth and conquer.