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Are you rugrat ready or not?

So, you and your spouse have discussed it extensively and you've decided it's time to start a family. Or maybe you feel unsure and you wish you had some way to determine your readiness. Today is your lucky day! If you can endure the following tests, parenthood appears imminent:

Borrow a friend's minivan. I know you plan to drive an SUV, but once you have kids you can't afford the payments or the gas. So, borrow the minivan. Drive around town (not down back alleys and dirt roads ... not at night). Drive through your neighborhood and those of friends. Roll down the windows and wave at people. Return the minivan. If you do not experience complete demoralization, then you've passed the first test.

Take two packages of cheese puffs out to your car. Crush the contents of one and sprinkle it across your front seat, massaging the crumbs and orange dust deep into the grooves of your upholstery. Do the same to your backseat. Then drive to a fast food restaurant and order two large fries. Without looking, throw one entire container over your shoulder into the backseat. Sprinkle a few fries on your front seat. Eat the remainder; you will feel better. Don't clean your car for at least one week (some of us hold out for years, but a week is a good starting point).

Invite a group of friends to go for a drive. Go to a drive-through window and order fries and a chocolate milkshake. Don't let your friends order. Upon getting your food, don't share and attempt to eat it without them seeing you. If they ask for a bite, say "No, I don't have anymore" (even if you do) and continue eating.

Leave the door open when you use the restroom. After you get comfortable with that, invite two or three neighbors in with you. Meditate on a life without privacy which begins the day the baby arrives (and continues for the next 30 years).

Carry a 10-lb. bag of flour around in your left arm, while doing everything else with only your right. When you cook, hold the flour. When you talk on the phone, hold the flour. When you change your oil, hold the flour. Occasionally jiggle the flour to make it more comfortable. Sleep with the flour, being careful not to squish it, bury it in covers, or knock it out of bed. Remember, this bag of flour simulates a real baby who would be getting heavier by the day, despite all the leaks.

Design an obstacle course between your room and the future baby's room, using things like thumb tacks, shoes, and hard-edged low furniture. At 2 a.m. roust your spouse from a deep sleep by yelling "Quick! The baby is crying!" Time your spouse to see how fast he/she maneuvers through the obstacle course. Hint: On your turn, compete for the slowest time.

Acquire a wheelbarrow and fill it with 25 lbs. of sand. Take it to one end of your driveway and push it as fast as you can to the other end. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. The sand is still having fun! Repeat . . .

The biggest secret about having a baby? You will never be prepared. You will never have enough money, time, or knowledge, or sufficient practice with other people's children. If you can both accept that, then go for it.

Web posted on Thursday, April 15, 2004

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