Monday, October 4, 2010

SGW: What to Expect When You Buy Those Stupid Books

Happy Monday! Today we're handing over the reins to Mom In A Million. She is famous in these parts for her killer book reviews and the creation of the word "douche-nozzle".  She got all chatty one day about her library of parenting books in her house, and Lydia was all, "You mean those things that hold the doors open and keep the table from having a seizure everytime someone puts their elbow on it? I love those books? Oh, you read them? Never mind." And Kate doesn't like the idea of anyone being smarter than her, so she abjectly refused to read them.

Seems the IHPs didn't care, because they came anyway. So there, authors. Of course, her doctor was all, "Have you been exercising your kegels?" and she was like, "Yes, but it's a beagle." And then he explained what he meant and she immediately got a new doctor. Anyway, the point is, there are all these books and article and magazine all about having babies and taking care of babies, and raising babies into kids and she. read. all. of. them. so. we. don't. have. to. Which possibly makes her way smarter than us and possibly makes us feel like we really are happy it's keeping our kitchen table stable.

Enjoy! xoxo Kate and Lydia


When I was pregnant, I read books about being pregnant. Because that is what women in my neck of the woods do: we research every topic under the sun to death so we can feel like we are controlling the world around us by harnessing the power of information. Also because many of us formed our identities in graduate school where status was based solely on the ability to pull an epic assortment of facts out of our butts on a moment’s notice. [Editor's Note: As opposed to pushing an epic-sized baby head out of our...yeah. -Kate]

That is why I have a dog eared copy of What to Expect When You’re Expecting (which should have been called The Worst Case Scenario Handbook For Pregnant Women) and multiple copies of The Girlfriend’s Guide to Pregnancy that were all given to me by girlfriends who apparently thought it was perfectly fine to pass along a book whose author advocates wearing stirrup pants. I can only hope they skipped that part before they gave it to me because, what? stirrup pants? No. Never. Can I hear an amen, Kate? [Editor's Note: Do you even need to ask?? They're named after something that exists in my gynecologist's office for the love of Maude. You may as well ask me if my shoes are recycled speculums. Speculums? Speculi? Either way...NO. -Kate]

After the baby came, there was a slew of parenting books, parenting message boards on the Internet, and parenting magazines. I did not read any of them for the first months of my son's life, mostly because they contained words. 

But later, when the ability to read, think and comprehend complex sentences returned, I started paging eagerly through all the colorful pages bedecked with pictures of smiling children and apple-cheeked babies in the hopes that I would find the magic answer to raising a happy, healthy, well-adjusted, charismatic, intelligent, musically gifted, athletic, compassionate, child with a love of all mankind. Also, puppies.

What I found was message boards full of moms who would cut a B for suggesting sleep training and glossy mags with suggestions for cupcakes themed to every given holiday, and books that dealt only in broad generalities of an average baby that resembled my son not at all.

So, it should come as no surprise that I now completely eschew parenting literature in favor of celebrity memoirs. Because whatever else you say about Kendra “I Boinked Hef” Wilkinson, she never admonished me to add healthy ingredients to cupcakes. [Editor's Note: Can I totally have fun with the fact that you used the word "eschew" in the same sentence that you talk about Kendra Wilkinson. She's probably *trying to* read this and being all, "eww, she ATE the book? Hey! I wrote a book! What? Ooh, look at my boobies. Hank eschews those too. What?" -Kate] I mean, they’re cupcakes people! They are not health food! They are not vehicles for vegetables! They are vehicles for icing and that’s that!

[Editor's Note: You guys heard Snookie got a bood deal, right?  Unless its about self-tanner, bump-its or unwanted infections I'm going to assume she had help.  With the word parts. - Lydia]

Anyway, I was recently in an airport, which we all know impairs judgment, and I saw an issue of some parenting magazine with a headline reading “End Toddler Power Struggles”. Yes! I have toddler power struggles every single day! Surely this magazine would have really good information, perhaps on how to do some sort of Vulcan neck pinch that would render him compliant with the hand-holding rules I’ve
established to prevent him from getting run over by a bus.

Well, silly me. There were no tutorials of wrestling moves in the article at all. Instead the author wrote in a tone that made me feel like I was a toddler, an unreasonable one at that. She carefully explained that if your child won’t sit at dinner, don’t stress, just model healthy eating and don’t give in to them. Which
sounded suspiciously like a lead-in to an explanation for how to hide vegetables in a cupcake. Grrrrr.

There were some other articles in there too: the kind designed to scare you to death about pediatric health problem you never knew existed. Can someone please explain to me the compulsion among publishers to scare the pants off of mothers? Because while it’s nice to know the symptoms for common illnesses like croup or coxsackie (an illness whose name never fails to transport me into immature giggles) I don’t need to be lying awake at night worrying about the kinds of things that affect 1 in 40 bazillion children. That way lies projected hypochondria of the worst possible kind – the kind that sends me rushing to the pediatrician’s office often enough to cover his next boat payment through my copays. [Editor's Note: Coxsackie. -Lydia]

Distressingly, the parenting magazine genre has expanded to include such offerings as Couture Baby or Baby Couture, I can’t remember which. It featured a cover with Kourtney Kardashian wearing something filmy and holding her darling baby boy who looked like he wanted to beg the photographer to take him away from the madness. I didn’t look inside that one for fear of finding articles about baby vajazzling or something equally suicide-inducing.

And even that old chestnut Real Simple has gotten in on the action with Real Simple Family. I grabbed a copy of that the other night and flipped through it when I got it home. Every article seemed to be in list form. And there were no cupcake recipes, with or without hidden veggies, which was refreshing. But then there was a feature about ways to make your house more fun that suggested installing a swing. Indoors. Hanging from the ceiling. Am I wrong, or is that the only kind of thing that only people who know nothing about kids would suggest? Possibly Kendra Wilkinson?

All this reading only confirms for me that I would be infinitely better off re-reading the Twilight saga because I stand a better chance of being turned into a celibate, sparkly vampire than I do having a magazine-worthy playspace populated by joyous, non-power-struggling children happily eating veggie cupcakes.

And that’s just fine with me.

(c)Herding Turtles, Inc. 2009 - 2010


  1. See? I told you I waited up to read your blog when it updated.

    And my poor couch. I laughed so immoderately when I saw the picture with the caption "her jaw might be stuck" that my basset, Teddy, rolled over and peed in alarm.

    --kate in Michigan (GREEN, not Blue)

  2. This is hilarious. I love all of you. Please tell me if someone ever creates a toddler control Vulcan Neck Pinch. I don't want mine to get run over by a bus either.


  3. I too demand a class in the Toddler control Vulcan neck pinch... I grew up only minutes from Coxsackie, NY so I think I've earned it.

  4. Personally I would rather fantasize over sparkly vamps ...
    and 'eschew' any strings of words pertaining to the milestones of my children, in favor of real life mommy bloggers, with real life children, boob stains and all .... we clean up good and we don't have to hide behind doors to be real people ....

  5. This is why I love blogs like this one. Those mag's are not real, unlike this page, which is as real as it gets. Like you, I read all that stuff with my first baby, but by the time number six was here, "floor d'oeuvres" became a food group!
    I'm off to line the hamster cage with Martha Stewart's face.

  6. Hilarious...especially now that my once-toddlers are now twenty-somethings and drive me crazy in ways I didn't even THINK were possible...I read all those parenting books,once upon a time, 'eschewed' many of them and my kids are STILL screwed up (they are wonderful adults, responsible and compassionate, but still WIERD)!

    Do the best you can, my peeps, and if they come out with a Vulcan neck pinch - for all our sakes, USE IT! :)

  7. While I generally agree, not ALL pregnancy books suck ;)

  8. Lol! This is so true!

    I guess I'm not weird for reading every parenting book under the sun with my 1st, but not bothering with my 2nd, and my 3rd? Well I've since forgotten everything I read with the 1st and now say "he'll survive" when asked about my parenting methods.

  9. Yes! I totally agree! I want those parenting experts to come to my house and try to force my baby to be on a schedule or sleep in her crib for a nap. She can fight off two grown adults, so they better watch their backs. My baby says those experts can suck it.

  10. I devoured pregnancy books when I was pregnant and they were helpful. I figured that knowledge was power and the more powerful I was the less scarred I would be. But I totally should have kept that power to myself! I am surprised that I didn't start getting smacked up side the head every time I said "Well the book says....." I think My O.B. may have developed an eye-twitch from suppressing his eyeballs from rolling in to the back of his skull whenever I mentioned the books.

  11. Lol - I had a real jones for reading baby books when I was in grade school. You know, back when I wasn't pregnant (heck, not even dating, boys were still gross). This was crucial, because that meant that the information was not completely terrifying. Once I got pregnant, I borrowed a few books from friends. I flipped through them, realized not much had changed, and skipped the rest. I have some brand-new unopened copies sitting on my bookshelf at this very moment.

    Also? COXSACKIE!!! We've had that one!

  12. The difference between baby no. 1 and no. 5:

    No. 1 - Start reading every pregnancy book cover to cover as soon as the line turns pink, collate a list of all the things you "will not be able to survive labor without," and stuff them into a suitcase that could double as a coffin for the Boss Hogg.

    No. 2 - Re-read a couple of the books for a refresher, in your spare time. Start to pare down your packing list, figuring the stuff for AFTER you can leave home and your spouse/partner can bring back. (You don't need the entire Layette for the moment baby pops out. They do have clothes and diapers at the hospital. And, they're "free.") It all fits in a normal suitcase.

    No. 3 - You look at the lone "I kept this one because got the most out of it" book on the shelf and think "I really should brush, the last two are still breathing, we'll manage." You pack a small, carry-on size bag with the minimum of things, because you've learned that you don't want socks/tennis balls/12 bags of lollipops. Camera and a couple changes of clothes, maybe a few healthy snacks, you're good to go.

    No. 4 - You no longer have any books. The lone survivor has long since been given away to make room for all the plastic Happy Meal toys the first three have accumulated. After you call the OB to say "It's time," you shove the camera, a change of underwear, and 12 single-serve packs of Oreos into a plastic Target bag.

    No. 5 - You could write the book. "Do we have the cameras? Good, let's go. Honey, you can bring me clothes after -- just pick the least grody things out of the hamper. I did pack a big trash bag full of Oreos, ready-to-serve bacon, and some chips and salsa, so bring that - I want to eat as much as I can with only one person bugging me. After I eat the bag empty, I'll use it to bring home all the extra diapers, wipes, and various other flotsam that the nurse leaves behind. (Waste not, want not. We'll use it for something.)"

  13. Meg, that is exactly right, except that I did for #4 what you did for #5. "Got the camera? Got the food? What do you mean, I should bring a toothbrush??" Yup, rock on.

    I remember reading all the parenting books I could with #1 and thinking I was an expert. Then she had three months of colic and was the worst. toddler. ever. So I threw them out in a fit of rage. Still waiting on the toddler Vulcan Neck Pinch...

  14. Cocksackie??? Eschew?? Am I supposed to understand this stuff???

    lol. awesome.

  15. Love this post, and the comments...times a billion. I read "What to Expect" and a book about the first year with multiples. I have a 10 year old stepdaughter who lives with her dad and I, and I've had her in my life since she was two, and also we have 18 month old b-g twins. I guess it's bad that, when I found out I was pregnant with my little ones, I said, well, if I can get them to age two, I at least have an idea of what might be coming after that! Ha ha! Well, they're 18 months old this week, and having been born at 31 weeks, doing some time in the NICU, and currently some physical therapy through our infants/toddlers county program...we're all here to tell the tale, and the kids are beautiful. I'd like to tell you their first words were "suck it, fancy" but no... :-) My advice is that if people are inclined to read "the books"...look them over, choose one to read, and divide the potential scariness in half, and maybe you'll have something reasonable. After that, just enjoy your kids as much as possible! :-)

  16. I do not have the patience for parenting magazines. Freakin' condescending....I'll stop now or this could go on for awhile.

  17. "What to expect when you're expecting" is the WORST pregnancy book ever. I tell every pregnant mom I know to avoid it unless they want to get scared to death about everything that could go wrong, and if they want to feel guilty for not being the perfect mom and eating the most perfect diet, etc. AWFUL book!

  18. I think there should be a warning label on the What to expect books. "Likely to make you even more deranged about your child's health". They are awful. I was freaking out when my son was born ... worrying about all the different diseases in those books. I will not recommend these to my friends.

  19. I used 'what to expect' and 'girlfriend's guide' as firestarter in the woodstove.

  20. I gave up parenting magazines when they suggested I make this "quick and easy" lunch for my kids.

    Really? That is "easy". And I'm supposed to be making these things with love instead of exasperation?

  21. AWE-some. And as a side note, I bought Real Simple's "organizing your life" issue a few months back, hoping it would give me tips on how to fit obnoxious toys/eye sores into a shoe box? Yeah, not so much. Instead they offered tips on how to organize my jewelry and make up? That's what drawers and ziplock bags are for, thank-you-very-much. Those things are the LEAST of my organizational disasters. The whole thing was frickin useless.

  22. It seems to be it should be spelled "Speculii".
    Not that I really *want* to be thinking about them in multiples..... that's just wrong.

  23. Brilliant post.

    Cupcakes should never be sullied by vegetables!

  24. The ONLY good suggestion I read in Parent Magazine was to use a lint brush on the bathroom floor to pick up hair. I cancelled my subscription after that.

  25. My favorite is Dr. Spock, who tells new mothers one glass of wine every day while breastfeeding is just fine, but--BEWARE!--one glass leads to another and suddenly the new mom is a quivering, temporarily-insane, alcoholic mess feeding the baby Drano and brushing her hair with a steel sponge. Thanks, Dr. Spock!

  26. coxsackie! makes me giggle too! and i totally sprayed a little coffee. in fun-nier news...i HAD a swing of sorts in my old house! really. adults loved it too! i have pics! my kids got the bright idea to tie all their karate belts into 2 ropes. which they tied to the bannister at the catwalk over my stairs. they would climb up the steps holding the rope (or ropes...sometimes they did it that way...the twist was better), tuck in their knees and fly through the air. often over the couch, depending upon my arrangement of furniture. could also be climbed to the second floor 20 feet above if you were a brave person with half a t-box in you! this was a nice house in a nice neighborhood. all the other moms thought i was crazy, but they brought the kids over anyway. everyday.(still bring them over to my new place, and we all miss the swings!) and sometimes would even let the kids have a turn! truly....don't knock the swing indoors till ya try it! it is fun! caryn rupert

  27. We have an indoor swing :-) And a rope ladder! (thank you, IKEA) We also have three boys (5.5, 4, and 2) - I see the whole thing as a "survival of the fittest" experiment ;)

  28. I am so not one to nit-pick choice of words, but couldn't help here: "suicide-inducing"? I really wish Mom-In-A-Million had chosen different wording. Suicide is such a serious issue. It shouldn't be trivialized. I realize I'm particularly sensitive to the issue being a survivor of suicide loss, but with all the recent news of teen suicide, we should all be more aware that it's not a joking matter.

  29. When I had my first newborn I started reading this parenting book that advised me to pick up my baby EVERY TIME he cried (or he would grow up to become a bank robber) and bring my baby to work with me ... in a SLING. I followed so much of this crappy book's advice that it made me neurotic and our pediatrician told me to stop. Then I realized that the couple who gave me this book had an older child who was afraid of his shadow and cried if you looked at him wrong. If I had possessed the energy to start a fire I would have burned that damned book. As it it, I threw it in the recycle bin with a big satisfying thud.

  30. This is so awesome!!! I have a stack of Parenting Magazines that come every month (though I've NEVER ordered it) sitting on my washer. They don't get read and eventually get tossed into the recycle bin! I tried reading them and a few pregnancy books, but learned that with children sometimes "Ignorance is bliss"!! They just make you paranoid and it's not worth it when you have enough on your mind. Enjoy your kids and take things as they come!! I, too, just read the Twilight Saga! When I read I want to be taken away from reality, not scared silly by it!!

  31. Fantabulous review. I think that there are waaaay too many scary pregnancy books out there. To. Be. Avoided. At. All. Costs. My favorite parenting book came with a great title: "Sippy Cups are Not for Chardonnay" It covered all of the actually important stuff. And then there was a book for dads called "Be Prepared" which actually offered some good advice for rocking a baby with colic (put on Bob Marley's Buffalo Soldier since it has a beat of 60 bpm -- some magic number that a lot of babies like).

    Would like to learn the Vulcan Toddler Neck Pinch!

  32. book for dads called "Be Prepared"

    Oh, yes to this! Funny, not condensing, pedantic or awful and had some good tips.

    Sorry about commenting on a really old post

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