THE OCTOPUS AND STRING BAG GUIDE TO PARENTING

Today I’m offering this excerpt from THE BEGINNER’S GUIDE TO FATHERHOOD for your amusement. If you’re a guy contemplating being a father, you should definitely read this; if you’ve already had kids, then this might give you a wry smile.

“Some couples prepare for having children by going to baby shops and building extensions on their houses. This is the wrong approach. Parenthood is not just a matter of decorating a nursery and making more space. Raising offspring, like abseiling and martial arts, cannot be learned from a book.

The only way you’ll ever learn to do it is by practice. But once you have a child, it’s too late. You’ll be too tired, physically, emotionally and spiritually to learn anything new for at least five years.

You need to start working out NOW!

Here’s a training circuit you should incorporate into your life right now, 21 simple exercises that will help prepare you for the experience of being a father …

1. Go home. Pick up the newspaper. Read it for the last time. Move straight to exercise 2 …

2. To discover what the nights are like, walk round the living room from about 5 in the afternoon till ten at night carrying a wet bag weighing approximately eight to twelve pounds. At ten o’clock, put the bag down, set the alarm for midnight and go to sleep.

Get up at twelve and walk round the living room again – with the bag, of course – till one am. Set the alarm for three am. As you can’t get back to sleep, get up at two and make a cup of coffee. Go to bed at quarter to three.

Get up at three when the alarm goes off. Sing Wiggles songs in the dark till 4 am. Put the alarm on for five. Get up, make breakfast.

Keep this up for about five years. Look cheerful.

(Note: don’t worry, hallucinating is normal.)

3. As all small children have a vital neuron missing in their brains making it impossible for them to agree to anything, you must practice a technique known as ‘negative gearing’. That is, you gear every question you ever utter so that agreement requires a negative. Practise saying things like: ‘It’s not that you don’t not want to not to go to bed, don’t you?’
Master this technique or you won’t not never make it through parenthood.

4. For some houseproud people, becoming a parent can be a bit of a shock. Children can be

parenting can be a challenge for the houseproud (photograph: Flicrphoto)

a little messy at times. To allay this trauma, try it out now and see if you can stand it.
First, smear peanut butter on the sofa and jelly on all the curtains. Hide a piece of chicken behind the music centre and leave it there through the summer. Finally, stick your finger in the flower bed, and wipe them clean on the walls. Cover over the stains with crayon.

There. Finished. How does that look to you?

5. Before you finally decide to go ahead, find a couple who already have children and berate them about their methods of discipline, their lack of patience, their appallingly low tolerance levels and the way they have allowed their children to run riot. Suggest ways in which they might improve their child’s sleeping habits, toilet training and overall behavior.

Enjoy yourself. It will be the last time in your life you’ll have all the answers.

6. Dressing children, especially small children, is not as easy as it appears from a distance. To become really expert, buy an octopus and a string bag. Attempt to put the octopus in the string bag so that none of the arms hang out. Time limit: all morning.

7. Throw out your porn films, your sex toys, the pink fluffy handcuffs. Those days are over, pal.

8. Take an egg box and, using only a pair of scissors and a pot of green paint, turn it into an alligator. Now take a toilet roll tube and, using some glue and some Alcan foil, make a Christmas cracker. Finally, take a milk container, a ping pong ball and an empty packet of Rice Krispies and make an exact replica of the Angkor Wat.

Congratulations: you have qualified for Play Group Committee.

Make this out of egg cartons. Time limit: ten minutes (photograph: Sam Garza.)

9. Family cars are vital accessories for children. Sell your Mustang Corvette and buy a People Mover. Wait! Don’t just leave it out in the driveway spotless and shining. Family cars don’t look like that.

Buy a triple choc ice cream and put it in the glove box. Leave it there. Get a nickel and stick

The family car after twins. (photograph: Infrogmation)

it in the DVD player. Snap off the console lid and the windscreen wiper controls. Wrench off the side view mirrors. Mash a packet of chocolate biscuits down the back seats. Finally, take the garden rake and run it along both sides of the car.

There. Perfect.

10. Get dressed in shoes and a coat. Sit outside the bathroom for half an hour tapping your foot. Walk out the door. Come back in again. Go out. Come back in. Go out. Come back in again.

Go down the front path. Come back. Go back down the path. Walk very slowly along the street for five minutes, stopping to inspect every cigarette end, every piece of used chewing gum and dead insect on the footpath. Retrace your steps. Go back up your front path.

Now scream that you’ve had about as much as you can stand until all the neighbors come out and stare at you. Give up and go back into the house. Do it all again a few minutes later.

Well done. You are now ready to take a small child for a walk to the shops.

11. Always repeat everything you say five times. Always repeat everything you say five times. Always repeat everything you say five times. Can’t you understand plain English? Always repeat everything you say five times. For the last time, if I have to say this again I am getting to get very angry!!! Always repeat everything you say five times.

12. Record yourself saying ‘Are we there yet?’ and ‘How much further?’ Play this at full volume continuously every time you leave your driveway.

13. If, as a concerned modern husband, you intend to be present at the birth, there are three things you can do to prepare:

a) learn to say, I’m here for you, baby.
b) learn to say: ‘Push!’ when someone tells you to.
c) Learn not to say: ‘Why aren’t you breathing the way they showed you in antenatal class?

14. Go to your local supermarket. Take with you the nearest thing you can find to a pre-school child – a fully grown goat is excellent. If you intend to have more than one child, take more than one goat. Now take the child (goat) to the local mall. Do not let the child (goat) out of your sight. Pay for everything your child (goat) eats or destroys. Until you can accomplish this, do not even contemplate fathering children.

15 Untangle a mobile. Time limit: six months.

‘Maybe I had the instructions upside down.’ (photograph: ProfDEH)

16. Buy a Taiwanese-made bicycle. Assemble it exactly according to the instructions. Time limit: two years.

17. Go to your local drugstore and tip the contents of your wallet on the counter and tell the pharmacist to help himself. Then go to the doctor, and hand him your Visa card. Now go to the supermarket and arrange to have your wages paid directly to their head office in Seattle.

18. Hollow out a pumpkin, Make a hole in the side roughly the size of a golf ball. Attach the pumpkin to a piece of rope and suspend it from the ceiling. Swing the pumpkin so that it sways from side to side in a two metre arc.

Now get a bowl of cereal and attempt to spoon it into the swaying pumpkin by pretending to be a jet plane. One hit out of ten is considered a pass. Two out of ten is excellent.

‘Well that’s breakfast out of the way. Better get his play lunch ready now.’ (photograph: Flydime)

Continue until half the cereal is gone. Tip the rest in your lap. You are now ready to feed a 12 month old child.

19. Toddlerhood is a very sensitive time. Some children become very insecure and tend to cling to their parents. To prepare for this:
a) buy a sandbag
b) Fill it with about thirty pounds of sand.
c) Tie it to your leg
d) Leave it there for twelve months.

20) Go into a department store. Take the elevator to the second floor and start browsing in the book department or reminiscing among the golf and football equipment. At the count of ten. Hurry! Quick! Find a bathroom. Now!!! Time limit: five and a half seconds.

For more of THE BEGINNERS GUIDE TO FATHERHOOD, by Colin Bowles, go to Skyview Publishing here.

And now because I want to see you all back here regularly, I am offering a free copy of my novel CORRIGAN’S RUN to anyone who joins my blog today. You can’t buy it … it’s not available anywhere else except here! All you have to do is join up, then write to me at colin underscore falconer underscore author at hotmail dot com. I can send you a copy as a mobi Epub or PDF file.

About colinfalconer

author of bestselling historical novels like Anastasia, When We Were Gods, Aztec and Harem. My books have been published in the UK, US and ANZ and translated into seventeen languages.
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6 Responses to THE OCTOPUS AND STRING BAG GUIDE TO PARENTING

  1. Laird Sapir says:

    Hysterical! And so true! Thanks for the laugh, Colin!

  2. Debra Kristi says:

    Colin, you had me laughing out loud through the whole thing! So much truth – except, it didn’t end at age five for me. 😦

  3. That’s hilarious! And so, so accurate. Mr. Bowles needs to take a lesson from moms, though. Duct tape, sedatives and lots and lots of alcohol make those first five years a lot easier to handle. Obviously I’m kidding. I actually loved those first five years. At least until the kids realized I was NOT the smartest person in their world. 🙂

  4. Pingback: Siete pronti per avere figli? Scopritelo!

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