Every child deserves to be wanted and cherished. Mark each statement TRUE or FALSE to determine whether you are ready to enter into the sacred trust of nurturing new life from birth to independent adulthood.
1. I am between the ages of 20 and 40 and have a stable home and income.
2. I have always loved children and desire to have children of my own.
3. I would type pages of detailed notes for the babysitter in preparation for a thirty-minute absence to run errands.*
4. I would take excellent care of pets I was not in favor of getting.
5. I can recognize, with 99% accuracy, the differences between newborn cries indicating: I’m hot, I’m cold, Ouch, I’m hungry, I need a hug, Get away from me, I have to poop, I already pooped, Someone is wearing too much perfume, The man with the facial hair looks sketchy, Whoa that was scary, and I have gas and don’t know which end will expel it.
6. In a pinch, I could wipe my child’s nose on my own sleeve and wash my child’s face with spit.
7. I would enjoy cutting children’s food into equal bite-size pieces and making sure that everyone has the correct color of drinking cup, even if it means eating my own meal at room temperature 30 minutes later.
8. I treasure children’s natural curiosity enough to answer the same question four dozen times within an hour without strangling anyone.
9. I am capable of changing diapers that contain explosive amounts of what appears to be vegetable soup and road tar without fainting, dry heaving, or fleeing the scene.
10. I am ready to accept Barney as my personal savior.
11. I can tolerate pointless screaming for hours on end without lighting my own hair on fire.
12. I possess the uncanny ability to locate everyone’s belongings at all times, including those of children who do not live here but eat and sleep here, and we’re not even sure their parents still live around here.
13. I could watch my child examine and eat a booger without flinching.
14. I can maintain a straight face on an important conference call while a little voice from another room hollers, Wipe me!
15. I understand that laundry hampers are decorative, not functional, items. I enjoy searching for dirty clothing, the pieces of which will be hopelessly entangled, in unmade beds, closets, gym or book bags, neighbors’ homes, trunks of cars, the middle of the street, and right next to but not inside a brand-new laundry hamper.
16. I have taken an oath never to say Because I said so! but reserve the right to give myself a pass anytime I feel vaguely homicidal.
17. I possess sufficient self-confidence, strength, and stamina to walk upright at a brisk pace at least 200 yards with 50 lbs. of limp and squirming children dangling under one arm while an entire restaurant looks on scornfully.
18. I look forward to challenging my children intellectually with questions such as, How on earth did you lose your underpants while you were wearing them?
19. I don’t mind using the restroom with the door hanging open and various people and pets dropping by to check on my progress.
20. I can drive at least eight hours with children screaming about the estimated time of our arrival or crying about a desperate need to eat, potty, or throw up.
21. I enjoy cooking for people whose best reviews include the words yuck, gross, disgusting, and blech, or questions like, Is it crunchy on purpose?
22. I look forward to supporting my children’s fundraisers, even if it means buying all the Thin Mints and eating them alone in a dark closet after a hard day.
23. I love big surprises, including works of art, book reports, elaborate costumes, and science fair projects that are due in twelve hours.
24. I am proficient at swearing under my breath and can convey rage, humiliation, and threats of bodily harm with a single stare or raised eyebrow.
25. My definition of “getting lucky" is only one person having diarrhea at a time.
* For three or more children, written instructions are optional. A simple Good luck! as you exit the house suffices.
Award yourself one point for each TRUE and zero points for each FALSE answer. Interpret your total points as indicated below:
0-5 points: You may be a fine person, but you’re not quite ready to be a parent. Keep at it. Start with a bird feeder and stop killing insects that are outdoors, minding their own business.
5-10 points: You’re getting there! Do you like cats?
10-15 points: You may be ready for a dog or one angelic child who is already potty-trained and well-adjusted to preschool.
15-20 points: Sweet spot! You are prepared to care for an easy newborn, but will need reinforcements if you get a difficult or typical newborn. Put the grandmas and EMTs on speed-dial.
20-25 points: You may be a living saint, but more likely a lunatic or pathological liar. Quite possibly a hazard to yourself and others. Get a full neuropsychiatric workup, just to be on the safe side.