What's the Actual Risk You're a Parent

by Tim Bete

Parents forget they have children. It's not that they want to forget, it's just that kids suck an enormous amount of thinking capacity out of your brain. The result is the inability to remember your kids' names and often if you even have kids. That's why I've created the "Rate the Risk That You're a Parent" quiz. I got the idea from Ken Pence of the Metro Nashville Police Department. Officer Pence -- who is an actual police officer and not a member of the fertility police -- created a great set of "Rate Your Risk" quizzes, including "Is someone going to break in and burglarize your home?" and "Are you going to be robbed, stabbed, shot, or beaten?"

When I took Officer Pence's "Rate Your Risk of Being Murdered" quiz, I was relieved to see I will live to meet my grandchildren. My high school guidance counselor must have been familiar with the quiz because he never once asked me to consider becoming a highly paid bank executive who moonlights as a fast food/liquor store clerk in a large city in an unstable foreign country, and is a gang-member who carries more than $2,000 cash in his wallet and has recently terminated the employment of a hand-gun owner. And I thought those career aptitude tests were a bunch of hogwash. It's clear they saved my life.

You might ask, "Isn't it obvious that you're a parent? You know if you have kids, don't you?"

That's an excellent observation since most moms and many dads were present at the birth of their children. I have a faint recollection of sitting next to a hospital bed in which my wife had complete authority over the television remote control for eighteen straight hours and I was forced to beg her to turn back to Little House on the Prairie so I could see if Michael Landon saved the neighbor girl who had fallen into a well. I even have a videotape of the experience. The episode of Little House, not the birth.

But, in my estimation, ninety-eight percent of parents forget that they have children. If you don't believe me, just look at the kids raiding the candy bin at the local grocery store checkout and the adults pretending those kids are someone else's progeny. My quiz will help jog your memory.

The following quiz rates the actual risk that you are a parent. The test uses known risk factors identified by adults who have been scientifically proven to have children. Don't panic if you have a high score. It could explain why the three-year-old raiding the candy bin looks exactly like you.

  • Is your minivan encrusted with so many Cheerios and Rice Krispies that when you hit a puddle it "snaps, crackles, and pops"?
  • Does your dining room set include six wooden chairs and one tall white plastic chair with an attached tray table covered with a layer of spaghetti sauce?
  • Have you been awakened in the middle of the night by a call for "a glass of water" followed two hours later by a call for "dry sheets"?
  • Did the most recent video you watched include talking vegetables, a train named Thomas, or a square sponge that wears pants?
  • In public places, do complete strangers come up to you and say, "God bless you! I don't know how you do it!"
  • Is every window in your home or apartment covered with fingerprints, mouthprints, and noseprints?
  • Has your spouse ever asked, "Guess what your kids did!?"
  • Have you yelled, "Stop making that noise!" while reading this article?
  • Have you considered visiting your local health clinic for their $9.95 lobotomy special?

Score your quiz by counting the number of boxes you checked.

0 -- You probably aren't a parent. Retake the quiz in nine months.

1 to 5 -- Either you have kids or your neighbor has a large family and you left your back door open.

6 to 9 -- Botta bing, botta boom—you're a parent! You may even have more than one child. Wait until midnight and do a bed check to be sure.

After three children and many trips to the grocery store, my wife and I are as astute as CIA agents at hiding from the watchful eyes of the fertility police. And, with a record of three for three, I've perfected my expertise at determining the sex of a baby.

But, with children, there are always new mysteries to be solved. For many of our friends with teenagers, the mysteries involve theft. That's why I'm working on a new quiz, "Rate Your Risk of Having Your Car Keys -- As Well as Your Heart -- Stolen by Your Children."

Excerpted from In The Beginning...there Were No Diapers: Laughing Learning In First Years Of Fatherhood.

Tim Bete is well known for his award-winning parenting humor column, "Where I Live," has been featured in the Christian Science Monitor and more than a dozen parenting magazines. His column is the basis for his book, In The Beginning...there Were No Diapers.

Tim has also contributed to several books, including
• Amazing Grace for the Catholic Heart
• From the Heart: Stories of Love and Friendship
• Misadventures of Moms and Disasters of Dads
• Become a Published Writer. Bete resides with his wife in Beavercreek, Ohio, with their three children. His hobbies include pushing his luck, skating on thin ice, and fishing his kids' toys out of the toilet.

Copyright © Tim Bete. Permission to republish granted to Pregnancy.org, LLC.