As a line firmly drawn in the sand, I don’t buy parenting books. Sure, I own about a bazillion books on how to get your baby to fucking go to sleep already, but you know what? I bought them all and didn’t even read them. You know why? Books (especially like those) are written by people who don’t necessarily have much save for some anecdotal experience to back them up (you don’t need to correct me if I’m wrong: I still won’t read ’em).
I don’t deny that they don’t work, shit I really don’t know if they do or not, but those books aren’t written by someone who knows my own child, and I don’t really need to hear what they think I’m doing wrong. Seriously, that’s the issue I have with most parental books, they’re always telling me what I am doing that’s going to fuck up my kid. And you know what? I already know what I’m doing wrong: trust me.
The only parenting books I’ll ever actually read (buying them sometimes makes me feel better, weirdly enough, even if I don’t so much as crack them open) are the funny ones. The Girlfriends Guide To Pregnancy helped me through not one but two very long pregnancies, and if I ever have another, I’d read that again.
Toddlers are weird creatures, not as annoying as babies or as know-it-all as certain six-and-a-half year olds that may live under my roof, but they’re strange and unpredictable. They know what they want (in theory anyway) but can’t quite tell you what that is and when you don’t know that ‘throwing my juice cup on the floor really means that I wanna go to the park, you freaking idiot,’ they tantrum.
While not the easiest age for parents to handle, so long as you keep your sense of humor about it, it can be pretty entertaining.
This is what Stef reminds you over and over. Honestly, it’s the best advice you can hear when you’re sitting and watching the clock tick and wishing it would hurry up and be naptime again so you can relax.
My favorite chapter is called “Oh The Places You’ll Go (Or Won’t)” because she finally put into words something I’ve always sort of thought: don’t bother with the fancy-schmacy museums and other educational activities unless it means something to you. It’s just not worth it to shell out the cash for something they’ll never remember. Target is doesn’t charge an entry fee and just as enjoyable.
I’ve gotten suckered into that whole “I need to do something EDUCASHIONAL with my kids or I’m a BAD MOTHER” trap before, and it was nice to have the validation from an outside source (my friend Stef) that I’m not the only one that thinks that a trip to the Planetarium for a one year old is just a bit overkill, unless it’s really for you.
(My six year old doesn’t even remember his birthday party that we shelled out major bucks to have at the local kids museum last August. If a six year old won’t remember this stuff, how can a one or two year old? Simple answer: they won’t).
In her book, Stef also addresses the issues of competitive parenting, which we all know is both very real and very irritating.
Talking to ‘one of those’ mothers/fathers is like talking to a real! live! parenting! book! with phrases such as “well MY daughter” snotty inhale “was not only SPEAKING by age one, she was DRIVING the car for us while doing ADVANCED CALCULUS.”
While this mother spoke, my own one year old was alternating between grabbing his crotch and laughing whenever he’d get a fistful of his twig and dingleberries and then examining a booger he’d pulled from his nose.
Maybe I’m exaggerating a wee bit, maybe I’m spot on, but Stef says it all way better than I do. And I think that SHE’S spot on. She might even be my hero.
One of the best parts of this book, Naptime Is The New Happy Hour is this: you can read it over and over again and laugh just as hard as Stef navigates the sometimes turbulent seas of toddlerdom; it’s well written, witty, and sometimes makes you go, “ME TOO!”. Maybe raising a toddler isn’t always fun, but Stef reminds you that no matter how few other mothers you know that are like her (and me), you’re not really alone in any of this.
I guess my point is this: if you like Aunt Becky and when she talks ever-so-lovingly about her children, you’ll REALLY like Stefanie Wilder-Taylor. I’m the Coke Light (Stef Light?) to her Real Thing.