The things you learn when babysitting teach you a lot about where you’re at in life. It tests your patience. It tests your attention span. It tests your ability to not murder someone you’re definitely capable of dismantling. And ultimately, it just all around lets you know if you are ready for parenthood. While the answer can never be an outright “yes” after babysitting, it can absolutely be an outright “no.”
Sometimes the cuteness factor of children can blur the line between “maybe” and “no.” In these cases, we need to have a self-questionnaire. Here’s where I come in. The man who was raised (very passively) by a man who claims he has “always thought” that the plot to War of the Worlds might be true. (Don’t worry; he’s referring to aliens stashing spaceships in the ground, not Tom Cruise getting himself and his children through the impossible in a mini van. That would be crazy talk.) I will be creating this questionnaire. And when I say that, I mean right now. Instant gratification! So, grab a pen and play along!
Are you ready for parenting? (That’s the title of the questionnaire, not a question from it. However, if the answer is “no,” you can probably stop reading.)
1: Do you like owning things that are in tact and in good condition?
If not, you may be a good parental candidate. People who voluntarily have children make a bold statement that says, “You know what? Our house looks a little too nice. Let’s have someone completely destroy it.” Bam. Nine months later, a kid pops out. My four-year-old nephew broke my roommates model Lamborghini’s side mirror and somehow managed to rip the steering wheel out which had been immediately preceded by him causing my roommates Washington State University Mr. Potato Head to disintegrate upon touching it as if it were made of ash. Man, they sure make those novelty Mr. Potato Heads true to form.
2: Do you like to sit and do nothing at any point during the day?
If not, you may be a good parental candidate. With kids, not even TV can spare you for a few minutes. You’d damn well better start liking Spongebob Squarepants and all of those movies where the dog manages to dominate seven-year-olds at sports and the refs allow it simply because there’s no rule specifically against it. You had also better start drinking coffee mixed with a Mountain Dew creamer (add sugar to your liking).
3: Do you hate playing Hide and Seek, especially when in small quarters?
If not, you may be a good parental candidate. Nothing is more appealing to a child than playing Hide and Seek. If there were prisons for children under five, there would be nothing but 8’x10’ cells full of children yelling, “Found you! Your turn!” and being incredibly proud of their accomplishment, no matter how horribly the other person is hidden.
4: Do you believe what children tell you?
If not, you may be a good parental candidate. They lie for the same reasons everyone lies. Either because they are avoiding trouble, or think it’s funny. And really, who doesn’t love a good lie? Kevin (my nephew) decided to lie about needing to pee 10 minutes after he had just peed, which resulted in me leaving my two nieces unattended in a crowded Red Robin for 5 minutes once he started yelling “I have to pee! I have to pee!” His intentions were relayed by him from behind a locked stall door moments later with an overly excited “I tricked you!” Simply hilarious.
5: Do you hate saliva, urine or fecal matter?
If not, you may be a good parental candidate. Because with children, you will get all you can handle. They put everything in their mouth. (Not the urine and fecal matter, I am specifically talking about saliva here. The other two are self-explanatory as to why they are deal breakers.) Plus, they have fat cheeks. This leads to seeing a two-year-old start chewing, you squeezing theirs cheeks and then having a grape completely smothered in saliva dispensed into your open palm. Followed by a matchbox car, a paper plane and half of a chopstick.
6: Do you hate cats?
If not, you may be a good parental candidate. While they won’t claw the hell out of you like cats will, children routinely want to climb, hang, jump, hold and cuddle the hell out of you when you least want it and yet never have any interest in being held when you want to hold them, just like cats. This is just one of several things that children and cats have in common.
7: Do you hate it when someone tells you they’re hungry and yet, won’t eat?
If not, you may be a good parental candidate. Being a parent is like permanently being on a bad date. My starving niece ordered a mini pizza and I handed it back to the waiter an hour later with marble sized bites taken out of just two of the pieces. And hell yes she wanted some fries with that!
8: While babysitting, do you focus too closely on the child that you stop focusing on yourself to the point where you might need someone to babysit you?
If not, you may be a good parental candidate. After joking to the waiter about wanting a sippy cup with a plastic lid and a straw like my nieces and nephew all received, I managed to spill my water everywhere while trying to stop Kevin from shoving a napkin in his mouth. This happened right in front of the cute girl in the next booth who was also babysitting. Wonderful. After dinner, I grabbed their four coats (yes, three kids, four coats) and while waiting for balloons was approached by the bus girl who handed me my own coat which I had forgotten.
9: Do you often have difficulty restraining your hands from aggressively attacking the head, eyes and or throat of the child or children you are watching?
If not, you may be a good parental candidate. In my most recent babysitting excursion, I flashed back to a conversation I had with a good friend of mine about the theory that children are cute because they have to be in order to survive. They use it as a self defense mechanism. We would simply kill off anything ugly that did most of the things that children do, but because babies and children are cute, we cover it up with, “They didn’t know any better!” So, while babysitting, I began to develop more to this theory. I introduce to you, “The Cuteness/Annoying Ratio!”
If the child in question isn’t adorable enough to at least make up for how obnoxious they are, they have a very low (under one) Cuteness/Annoying Ratio and are probably on the verge getting smacked upside the back of the head. Children learn this and instinctively reduce their obnoxiousness to up their ratio and survive to see another day. This is why the smart people in the world are seldom attractive and the attractive people are often morons. As a matter of fact, this same ratio applies to adults as well. There is exactly zero chance that Jessica Simpson would have left the Newlyweds marriage on anything less than a stretcher (more likely in a body bag) if she fell below a C/A Ratio of 1. None.
With that said, my nieces and nephew, whom I love dearly, are lucky their ratio’s are all significantly over one. I’d even say they’re in the two range. Except Kevin. He’s been around 1.50 since the recent deflation of his grape-wielding cheeks.
10: Do you regret having agreed to babysit in the first place?
If not, you may be a good parental candidate.
I asked myself that question, and despite every answer until now being a very emphatic “YES,” I am proud to say that I have never regretted a second that I have spent with those kids. I am absolutely not ready for children, but I can at least see why someone would be. Let’s just hope my kids have an unparalleled C/A Ratio so I don’t end up in an orange jump suit playing Hide and Seek with a man named Shark. He is probably very good at it.