I REMEMBER writing a column when my wife and I had our first child questioning why he didn't come with an instruction manual.
I mean, you buy a toaster these days and you get a 20 page guide.
Buy an Apple Mac and you get an online Wikipedia of helpful advice.
But have a baby - and apart from some good tips on birthing and breastfeeding, you are largely on your own.
But some bright souls have come up with 14 short tests to see if you're really prepared for bringing a life into the world - and all the 'joy' that comes after it.
If taken seriously, it could be the best birth control remedy the world has seen.
See how you go with it.
Test 1: Preparation
Women: To prepare for pregnancy
1.Put on a dressing gown and stick a beanbag down the front.
2.Leave it there.
3.After nine months remove 5% of the beans.
Men: To prepare for children:
1.Go to a local chemist, tip the contents of your wallet onto the counter and tell the pharmacist to help himself
2.Go to the supermarket. Arrange to have your salary paid directly to their head office.
3.Go home. Pick up the newspaper and read it for the last time.
Test 2: Knowledge
Find a couple who are already parents and berate them about their methods of discipline, lack of patience, appallingly low tolerance levels and how they have allowed their children to run wild.
Suggest ways in which they might improve their child's sleeping habits, toilet training, table manners and overall behaviour.
Enjoy it. It will be the last time in your life that you will have all the answers.
Test 3: Nights
To discover how the nights will feel:
1. Walk around the living room from 5pm to 10pm carrying a wet bag weighing approximately 4 - 6kg, with a radio turned to static (or some other obnoxious sound) playing loudly.
2. At 10pm, put the bag down, set the alarm for midnight and go to sleep.
3. Get up at 11pm and walk the bag around the living room until 1am.
4. Set the alarm for 3am.
5. As you can't get back to sleep, get up at 2am and make a cup of tea.
6. Go to bed at 2.45am.
7. Get up again at 3am when the alarm goes off.
8. Sing songs in the dark until 4am.
9. Put the alarm on for 5am. Get up when it goes off.
Keep this up for 5 years. LOOK CHEERFUL.
Test 4: Dressing Small Children
1. Buy a live octopus and a string bag.
2. Attempt to put the octopus into the string bag so that no arms hangout.
Time Allowed: 5 minutes.
Test 5: Cars
1.Forget the BMW. Buy a practical 5-door wagon.
2.Buy a chocolate ice cream cone and put it in the glove compartment. Leave it there.
3.Get a coin. Insert it into the CD player.
4.Take a box of chocolate biscuits; mash them into the back seat.
5. Run a garden rake along both sides of the car.
Test 6: Going For a Walk
b.Go out the front door.
c.Come back in again.
e.Come back in again.
f.Go out again.
g.Walk down the front path.
h.Walk back up it.
i.Walk down it again.
j.Walk very slowly down the road for five minutes.
k. Stop, inspect minutely and ask at least 6 questions about every piece of used chewing gum, dirty tissue and dead insect along the way.
l. Retrace your steps.
m. Scream that you have had as much as you can stand until the neighbours come out and stare at you.
n.. Give up and go back into the house.
You are now just about ready to try taking a small child for a walk.
Test 7: Conversations with children
Repeat everything you say at least 5 times.
Test 8: Grocery Shopping
1. Go to the 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.
2. Buy your weekly groceries without letting the goat(s) out of your sight.
3. Pay for everything the goat eats or destroys.
Until you can easily accomplish this, do not even contemplate having children.
Test 9: Feeding a 1 year-old
1.Hollow out a melon
2.Make a small hole in the side
3.Suspend the melon from the ceiling and swing it side to side
4.Now get a bowl of soggy cornflakes and attempt to spoon them into the swaying melon while pretending to be an aeroplane.
5.Continue until half the cornflakes are gone.
6.Tip the rest into your lap, making sure that a lot of it falls on the floor.
Test 10: TV
1 .Learn the names of every character from the Wiggles, Barney, Teletubbies and Disney.
2. Watch nothing else on television for at least 5 years.
Test 11: Mess
Can you stand the mess children make? To find out:
1.Smear peanut butter onto the sofa and jam onto the curtains
2.Hide a fish behind the stereo and leave it there all summer.
3.Stick your fingers in the flowerbeds and then rub them on clean walls. Cover the stains with crayon. How does that look?
4.Empty every drawer/cupboard/storage box in your house onto the floor and proceed with step 5.
5.Drag randomly items from one room to another room & leave them there.
Test 12: Long Trips with Toddlers
1.Make a recording of someone shouting 'Mummy' repeatedly. Important Notes: No more than a 4 second delay between each Mummy. Include occasional crescendo to the level of a supersonic jet.
2.Play this tape in your car, everywhere you go for the next 4 years.
You are now ready to take a long trip with a toddler.
Test 13: Conversations
1.Start talking to an adult of your choice.
2.Have someone else continually tug on your shirt hem or shirt sleeve while playing the Mummy tape listed above.
You are now ready to have a conversation with an adult while there is a child in the room.
Test 14: Getting ready for work
1. Pick a day on which you have an important meeting.
2.Put on your finest work attire.
3.Take a cup of cream and put 1 cup of lemon juice in it
5.Dump half of it on your nice silk shirt
6.Saturate a towel with the other half of the mixture
7.Attempt to clean your shirt with the same saturated towel
8.Do not change (you have no time).
9.Go directly to work
You are now ready to have children. ENJOY!!