Many well-intentioned people get pets because they think it’s going to prepare them for parenthood. I was one of them. The problem isn’t so much that pets can’t prepare you for being a parent. Rather, it’s more of a problem of how most people parent their pets that ill-prepares them for parenting humans. I don’t want to poo all over your dreams, so I’m going to give you some practical advice on how exactly pets can prepare you to rear children.
1. Get at least one dog and one cat. If you want a bigger family, add more of either type of pet. This will simulate having children of different personalities, motivations, and capabilities. Bonus points if they fight like cats and dogs. Pun intended.
2. Smear the cat’s ass with chunky peanut butter (This will be important later).
3. Put a diaper on the cat.
4. Put the cat in a onesie, pants, socks, and a hat.
5. Take the dog out to go potty. Bring the cat with you. You can’t leave kids unattended! The dog says he doesn’t have to poop. He swears.
6. Time to dress the dog. He needs a shirt, pants, socks, and shoes.
7. The dog is insisting, “I do it myself!” so you have to let your dog at least try to lace his own shoes.
8. Get frustrated and try to tie your dog’s shoes. He goes catatonic and refuses to wear shoes. You’re running late.
9. Find the cat! Where the eff did the cat run off to while you were wrestling your dog into shoes!?!
10. The cat has knocked the fish bowl over and is trying to eat the fish. Remove the fish from your cat’s paws.
11. Your dog’s goldfish is dead. You dog saw the whole thing and is whimpering for you to make the fish all better with big sad puppy-dog eyes (again, pun intended). Put the dead goldfish back into the bowl. Refill the water. Lie to the dog and tell him the goldfish is just sleeping. Text your spouse, “Come home with a goldfish that is an EXACT replica of Bubbles. ONLY AN EXACT REPLICA WILL SUFFICE.”
12. Bathe and change the cat who is covered in goldfish sewage (You haven’t changed the goldfish’s water in 3 months. How has that goldfish survived up until now?!).
13. Oh, gross. There’s chunky peanut butter all over the cat’s ass. Don’t act disgusted or upset. You don’t want to scar your cat for life. Paste a smile on and start scraping the peanut butter off of the cat.
14. Bathe the cat.
15. While you are trying to get the cat into the bath, your dog has stripped naked and hopped into the tub.
16. Bathe the cat and the dog.
17. The dog pooped in the tub.
18. Pull the wet, sudsy cat and dog out of the tub before the turd touches either.
19. Get the fish net, fish out the turd, and flush it while holding a wet, screaming, sudsy cat.
20. Put the cat and dog in the bath in a different bathroom and finish bathing.
21. Redress the cat and the dog. While you were dressing the dog, the cat unrolled all the toilet paper and ate an undetermined amount of it.
22. The cat and the dog are hungry. Make the dog an organic bento box with fresh vegetables and homemade hummus while you breastfeed the cat.
23. Leave the mess for your spouse to clean up.
24. Put the cat and the dog into their respective car seats. Pull out of the garage and start your exciting day trip to the beach!
25. Alternate playing dogs barking Christmas carols and cats meowing Disney hits.
26. Stop at the store to pick up some essentials.
27. The dog has fallen asleep. The cat has thrown up all over himself. Clean up the cat. The cat eating toilet paper has made this task a bit easier! Wake up the dog and put him, now grumpy, into the cart.
28. Put the cat into the cart. The dog doesn’t want to share his leg hole with the cat. He spends the whole shopping trip crying. The cat scratches him. He tantrums while you’re in the sunblock aisle.
29. Check out. Do not let your dog eat any of the candy. Do not let your cat knock any of the candy off the shelves.
30. Pay for the candy your dog ate. Apologize for your cat knocking off all of the candy on the shelves.
31. Get back into the car. Turn on static so your dog and cat take a nap on the way to the beach.
32. Listen to static the WHOLE GODDAMNED DRIVE.
33. You’ve made it to the beach! Now, park. The dog and cat are still asleep. Sit in the car still listening to static waiting for the dog and cat to wake up.
34. They’re awake! Put your kids into the stroller. Stuff the stroller with your blanket, beach bag and towels. Carry the cooler and umbrella. Do not hit anyone while walking to the beach.
35. Apologize for hitting someone with the umbrella, another for hitting her with the cooler, and an elderly couple for running into them with your stroller. Find a spot and get comfortable.
36. Spray the dog with sunblock. Do not let him run into the water. You'll be judged harshly if your child is leashed so you have to let your dog be free range.
37. Put the thick, pasty baby sunblock on the cat. Sorry, there is no spray sunblock for babies.
38. Take the dog and cat to the water. Make sure the dog doesn’t drown while keeping the cat out of the water. The cat will scream if touched by water. The dog will scream if removed from it.
39. Lunch time. Finally! Breastfeed the cat while making sure that absolutely nobody knows that you are feeding your cat with your boobs. At the same time, make sure the dog sits still and eats his organic veggie-wrap pinwheels you made him.
40. The dog’s done eating. He's eaten only the wrap of the pinwheels. The cat’s not done eating. Continue breastfeeding the cat while making sure that the dog doesn’t go over to other people and beg for food and attention.
41. The cat’s asleep. Entertain the dog making sure not to wake the cat.
42. The dog has to go potty. The cat’s still asleep. While you are looking for the closest bathroom, your dog pees on the blanket. Cover it with sand.
43. The cat’s awake. Time to take one more dip into the water. Repeat 36-38.
44. Time to go home! Gather up your things. Repeat 34.
45. Your dog is crying. He wants to walk. Let him out. Proceed to continue your walk to the car stopping to look at every. single. tiny. little. thing. at one-tenth of the pace that you would normally walk.
46. Apologize to everyone who walks past you for being so slow and for hitting them with the umbrella/cooler/stroller.
47. Put the dog and cat in their respective car seats. They want snacks. Give the dog cereal puffs and tell him to share with the cat.
48. Pull into the drive. Your partner is home! The dog wants to go see your partner. Let him out. He runs inside. Phew! One less kid to wrestle.
49. Get the cat out of the car. The dog has shared his cereal puffs by what appears to be, first, chewing them himself and, then, smearing the resulting paste all over the cat’s face and hair. Carry your crusty cat into the house. Leave the crap in the car. Your partner will have to take care of that.
50. You walk in just in time to see your spouse pulling out the new goldfish and giving it to your dog. You try to stop him but you can’t. It’s happening too fast. The dog is running gleefully to put his new fish in with Bubbles.
51. Your dog is screaming, “BUBBLES IS DEAD! HE IS NOT SLEEPING!” Snot bubbles (again, hahaha, so punny) have appeared.
52. Tell your dog you are sorry that Bubbles is dead. Begin planning a funeral for his dead goldfish. He wants to invite Nanny and Poppy to the funeral.
53. Nanny and Poppy arrive. Within 7 seconds of entering the house, Nanny has said 11 passive-aggressive things about your housekeeping, laundry, and parenting.
54. Swallow the blood trickling from your tongue which you have been biting. See 53, above.
55. Have a goldfish funeral.
56. The dog insists that Nanny and Poppy stay for dinner. You’re supposed to eat after you have funerals, he says. Make a mental note to Google your dog’s precocious knowledge of funeral practices.
57. Hand over the parenting duties to your spouse and Nanny and Poppy while you make a three-course, post goldfish funeral dinner.
58. The dog won’t eat any of the food you made because Nanny gave him a bag of candy from her purse.
59. Nanny and Poppy go home!
60. Start the bedtime routine. Baths all-around. It’s your spouse’s turn to take over!
61. Go to the bathroom before you drink the glass of wine you poured yourself to celebrate Nanny and Poppy’s departure.
62. Forget that the cat “used” all the toilet paper in your bathroom. Wait on the toilet until your spouse is done bathing the pets so you can ask for a roll of toilet paper.
63. Your naked, wet dog brings you a roll of toilet paper.
64. The dog comments that your tummy looks like a fat donut. He wants to pretend to eat it. Hurry him out so you can finish your bathroom "break."
65. Look longingly at the glass of wine on the counter as you walk through the kitchen on your way upstairs with your naked, wet, wriggling dog.
66. Trade pets with the spouse so that the dog can be read “Goodnight Moon” fifty-eleven times.
67. Breastfeed the cat in the dark nursery listening to the gentle, soothing sound of white noise. Do not look at your phone. The cat does not care that you are bored. You must sit there in the dark and like it.
68. Forty-five minutes later, emerge from the nursery having successfully nursed the cat to sleep.
69. The dog is still being read bedtime stories. Try to sneak past without being noticed.
70. You were noticed. Squish into the dog’s bed with your spouse and read “Goodnight Moon” four more times.
71. Leave. Close the door. Walk downstairs. Reach for your glass of wine…
72. The dog is thirsty. The dog is yelling for a glass of water. Send your spouse to give the dog water.
73. The yelling has woken the cat. Put down your wine and repeat 67.
74. Repeat 67 every 2 hours.
75. After the 4 am feeding when you can’t go back to sleep, yet your spouse is sleeping peacefully, Google “Sleep training” and "Child obsessed with death" while finally having your forgotten glass of wine until the 4am feeding.
76. Wake up at 6am with a hungry cat and a dog who is crying because he peed the bed.
77. Repeat steps 1-76 for 18 years in various venues and rotating characters with other insane situations that you never imagined possible.