“In order to be a good writer, you must be a good reader.” So said Mrs. Helen McNaughton, my third grade teacher, pretty much every day of my life in her class. I’d like to say that I have followed Mrs. McNaughton’s advice and incorporated this bit of wisdom into my adult life, that I am a voracious reader, and that all of my free time is spent getting lost in a good book. I think that might make me a better-rounded individual. Sadly, though, when it comes to the books on my nightstand, the piles are most often from the authors of my children’s favorites, such as Sandra Boynton, Beatrix Potter, and Richard Scarry.
In order to make room for the piles of children’s books we have, I have embarked on a project to donate many of the books that have remained on my bookshelf for years. (That, and I just love getting rid of stuff.) While setting aside books for the donation pile, I came across one entitled, “The Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook: Parenting.” Who gave me this? I can’t even fathom a guess. The good news is that the book gave me an idea for a series of posts that I am going to name “The Books on the Bookshelf: All the Things that Fran Should Read, but Probably Never Will.”
To kick off this series, I offer a snapshot inside the Parenting Survival Handbook, as well as my added commentary. Can we benefit from this advice? I’m not so sure…
Tip #1: How to Break Into Your Car if Your Baby is Locked Inside
(I offer this primarily for the benefit of one of the Three Bay B Chicks, who shall remain nameless, but who this actually happened to, in real life, not that long ago.)
1. Pretend to be calm. Trick your baby into thinking that you meant to create this situation.
2. Hoist a small dog in front of a window. Turn the dog around to show its funny wagging tail.
3. Hold up a magazine. Turn the pages in front of the window so baby can see bright images.
4. Use makeup to color yourself like a clown. Smear lipstick on lips (go beyond true lip outline), cheeks, and tip of nose. Use eyeliner and eyeshadow to accentuate happy eyes and eyebrows.
5. Do vigorous calisthenics. Babies think it’s funny to see big people jump around.
Commentary: These are all sure-fire ways to keep your child calm and have the state take custody away from you. Imagine this: Upon arriving at the scene to rescue your child, the police and firemen observe you standing outside the car window, covered in lipstick clown make-up, jumping up and down, and waving a dog around. That’s just a brand of crazy you don’t see every day. Also, where the hell do you find a dog?
Tip #2: How to Deal with a Screaming Baby on an Airplane
(Given all of the air travel that will take place across the U.S. today, I thought this would be particularly fitting.)
1. Create confusion and distraction. If your child has not quieted down, act crazy.
2. Use drugs and alcohol. Certain over-the-counter drugs can be administered in an emergency situation. The alcohol is for your consumption, in appropriate doses.
3. Use the lavatory. Hold the baby in front of the mirror and pretend that you are “walking downstairs” by moving back and forth, stooping lower with each step.
4. Remind yourself that you will never see these people again.
Commentary: I am not sure what airline this author flies, but the airline bathrooms I have visited are so small that I frequently return to my seat bumped and bruised after attempting to use such cramped quarters. How would you ever pretend to be “walking” inside a bathroom on an airplane? If you do attempt to follow this advice, I recommend doing so only at the beginning of the trip, rather at the end, otherwise, let’s be honest, that is just gross.
I did find some helpful hints here: consume alcohol and remember that the chances of me seeing these people again are pretty slim. Done! Also, the acting crazy part…well, that just began naturally after I had kids.
Tip #3: How to Get Your Baby to Sleep
In addition to several tips, the book includes a list of things not to use as a pacifier:
1. Glass bottle
2. Cell phone
4. Toliet plunger handle
5. High-heel shoe
6. Salt or pepper shaker
8. Ping-Pong paddle
Commentary: Whew! Thanks goodness for sound advice for the parent who might otherwise use their beer bottle or their super-sanitary toliet plunger to get their child to sleep.
The final page in the book includes the following statement:
Be Aware: Parenting is Forever
Now that is a tip worth passing on.