Monday, April 28, 2014

How Not to Calm a Child on a Plane

How Not to Calm a Child on a Plane by Johanna Stein
Da Capo Press: 4/29/2014
ebook, 256 pages
ISBN-13: 9780738217345

Looking for the perfect book to help you survive childbirth and parenting with your sanity intact?
Look elsewhere.
For Johanna Stein (writer/comedian/forward/slash/abuser and occasionally neurotic/immature/way-too-candid mom), parenting is an extreme sport. Her stories from the trenches may not always be shared experiences—Have you ever wondered if your baby's "soft spot" is like a delete key? Trained your preschooler for a zombie invasion? Accused a nearly nude stranger of being pregnant? Made sweet, bimonthly love to your spouse while your toddler serenaded you through the adjoining wall? Attempted to calm your screaming baby on an airplane with a hand puppet, only to have it lead to one of the most disgusting experiences of your life?—but they will always make you laugh.
So, no, this book won't teach you how to deal with nipple blisters or Oedipal complexes. But if you want to learn why you should never attempt to play a practical joke in the hospital delivery room, then you're in the right place.

My Thoughts:

How Not to Calm a Child on a Plane by Johanna Stein is a highly recommended and hilarious look at parenting young children.

Through 25 chapters and two appendices Stein will have you rolling with laughter and occasionally groaning with disgust in How Not to Calm a Child on a Plane. This is a look at having that first child and then parenting through the first few years. I firmly believe that you need to have had a child before reading this book. At that point you are going to fully appreciate most of the humor which is geared especially toward parents of young children.

For example:
"They call the first three months of a baby’s life 'the fourth trimester.' I call it the apocalypse. There is so much sleeplessness and tears and vomit and random bodily fluids projecting themselves skyward—it’s the third circle of hell, and it smells like the inside of a Lollapalooza porta-potty." Location 176
"Look, I understand that it’s 'illegal' to duct tape a pacifier to a baby’s face. Fine. But we can’t even glue it to her hand? Since when are we living in a fascist state?!" Location 1769
"You just don’t realize the absolute power of your baby’s cry until you willfully ignore it. Nature knew what it was doing when it picked that particular combination of sounds (pathetic, indignant, and loud) that tug at something deep within me, somewhere between my cervix and my spleen." Location 759

There are other humorous comments that everyone can appreciate. "Who am I to judge? If somebody filmed all of my questionable life moments and then edited them together, the resulting movie would be about three hours shorter than my actual life span." Location 946  

I loved the chapter "Operation Fight the Pink" where Stein decrees that her daughter will not be defined by the color pink, never be allowed to dress like a Disney princess, and will be exposed to gender neutral activities. I especially loved:
"4. My child will be a survivor—I don’t just mean metaphorically; she must be able to handle herself in an apocalypse (zombie or otherwise). This means that when fully grown, she must be strong enough to carry me (anywhere between 130–200 pounds; I will do my best to keep it on the low end, but you know . . . metabolism) and demonstrate a basic understanding of electricity, chemistry, several martial arts, weapons handling, and some emergency medical training. She must also know how to use a chain saw." Location 1187
The conclusion is that despite her best attempts her daughter is a Barbie-playing, jewelry-loving pretty pink princess so she has to abandon the Operation Fight the Pink campaign.

Another great chapter was the list of "29 Things I Have Lost since Becoming a Parent," (Location 1413) which includes things like:
2. Bladder control when I sneeze, laugh, do jumping jacks, or stand up from a seated position.
6. The ability to stay awake in a movie theater. Or while watching a TV show after six o’clock. Or while reading an e-mail. Or right now . . .
13. Patience for the sound of adults whining, after twenty seconds.
22. My belief that children can be “molded” into anything other than who they intrinsically are.
23. An argument with another new mom—a close friend—over the use of baby leashes.
24. My friendship with that mom.
27. The illusion that anything in life is guaranteed.

How about Ways in Which My Preschooler Has Insulted Me:
Location 2217
Mommy, your tummy looks like a bagel
Don't sing anymore, mommy. It makes my ears hurt.
Mommy, are you going to make yourself pretty today, or are you going to look like you always do?
You have a lot of hairs on your face. Is that a mustache or a beard?
Which one is oldest: Grandma, Grandpa, or you?

I enjoyed this book, but with a note of caution: it does contain some colorful language and some adult situations are discussed.

Disclosure: My Kindle edition was courtesy of Da Capo Press via Netgalley for review purposes.

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