10 May 2013

Don't Lick the Minivan

Things I Should Have Been Doing Yesterday:
1. Laundry
2. Cleaning
3. Going for a training run

Things I Did Instead
1 Drink coffee.
2. Read Leanne Shirtliffe's Don't Lick the Minivan
3. Howl with laughter

"Remember the show Survivor?  That's what parenting is like.  We need to outwit, outlast, and outnumber our kids." (p. 95)

"Parenting tip: Lazy parenting creates kids who are self-starters" (p. 117)

Amen, sister.

I know, I know, a mommy book?  But Leanne, aka Ironic Mom, just resonates with me.  Cause she's not "all that and a bag of chips," she's normal.  Or, as she'll tell you, nor-mall....
I stumbled across her via re-tweet (@LShirtliffe) and I've been an aficionado ever since.  And wouldn't you know, she's released her very first book!  In print!  "This is the kind of spontaneous publicity - your name in print - that makes people."  (Any fans of The Jerk out there?) 

Her sweet, charming, and dangerously-naive approach to "pre-parenting" was (sigh) SOOOO much like mine:  "I approached childrearing like a new project: I researched it with the goal of becoming an expert.  In retrospect, this approach was as successful as a nineteen-year-old who has completed Biology 101 performing a DIY appendectomy" (p. 23).  Truer words never spoken.  Because despite my belief that all things can be learned from a book, well, I'm wrong.  Because as cliche as it sounds, children really do NOT come with instructions.  Some days the idea of reconstructing the Eiffel Tower from memory feels easier than raising a kid who won't end up a felon, living in my basement indefinitely, or god help me, both.

"Parenting Tip: Strive to remember the name of your baby.  Write it on your hand if you have
Leanne Shirtliffe
aka Ironic Mom
to.  Remembering your spouse's name is optional" (p. 46).  And I thought I was the only rotten mother to call my newborn by his cousin's name for the first two weeks of life.  Unless I also count in his father, who did it too.  So we're equally rotten.  Marriage made in heaven.

See, Leanne's got it right on.  "I'm not Tiger Mom.... I prefer Tigger Mom: the energetic, encouraging kind who can pounce if need be and then run far away" (p. 65). 

I'm a huge fan of the Free Range Kids movement.  And from the sound of it, Leanne probably is too.  She and her husband Chris were living in Thailand during her pregnancy and the kids' first year.  Rather than get all obsessed with EVERYTHING (Danger!  Germs!  More danger!), Leanne embraces the "ma pen rai" ("no problem" in Thai) approach to a lot of things about her babies.  If the Coca-Cola delivery guy holds one of the babies at the market?  Ma pen rai.  A couple of drunk Thai ladies cuddling the babies on the beach?  Ma pen rai. "'God help me... he's sucking on the stroller wheel.' Yes, the year after the SARS outbreak, our twins were not only crawling around a carpeted airport floor in a developing country, but one twin was sucking on the same stroller that, the day before, had been bumping its way over basketball-sized dung at the elephant orphanage.... and thus ended the days of sterilizing anything."  You got it... ma pen rai.

I have friends whose children have never eaten McDonald's food.  Bully for them.  Life throws you curveballs.  When my own son was 13 months old, he was diagnosed with severe food allergies.  However, it turned out that a McDonald's burger, fries, and an apple juice were all "safe" for him to eat.  Yeah, yeah, you can start in on me about how processed the food is, the traumatic bovine existence and all.  But if it means no anaphylaxis, that's the ultimate Happy Meal.  Trying to survive a trans-Pacific flight, Leanne's babies are offered cookies.  Packaged, transfat-loaded cookies!  Turn that down?  No way!  Manna from heaven on a long flight. 

On a more serious note, Leanne briefly mentions her struggles with depression, and that she has few memories of those times in her life. Kind of a big nothing, as Hyperbole-and-a-Half called it today.  I can relate to that too, and the way that she discusses it.  It happened, it mattered, but it's not the crux of the book.

But OMG, so many "me too" moments!  How many ways can children break stuff or make stuff dirty?  How many bodily fluids are they able to jettison at their ever-lovin' parents?

Thank you, Leanne, for not being a Martha Stewart/Pinterest goddess.  She and Chris get about as much joy from Halloween as I do (and that would be none), no kid died because they don't get a nightly (or even a thrice-weekly) bath (that's just too damn much washing, anyway), and creative non-truths about the ice cream truck are to be fully endorsed.

I'm delighted to be in the "Club" of bloggers who were fortunate enough to get an advanced reading copy of Don't Lick the Minivan.  I feel like I'm at the Cool Kid Table!  And read it!  I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

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