So there’s this new book taking the parenting world by storm. Because it’s hilarious. In the ten years I’ve been a mother, I would certainly count humor as one of THE most needed tools in successfully raising children. While I can appreciate the advice and research offered by experts, I have often been just as encouraged and re-energized in my parenting by a good laugh at the absurdity and common struggles that come with being in charge (and at the mercy) of little ones.
Needless to say, Science of Parenthood, by Norine Dworkin-McDaniel and Jessica Ziegler, is right up my alley. And not only is it FUNNY, but it’s SMART. And that’s my favorite combination. The book aims to explain, well, the science behind parenthood. We’re not really talking genetics and nature vs. nurture…but the stuff moms and dads REALLY care about, like, why whenever your kid pukes, she’s anywhere BUT directly over the toilet. You know, the important stuff. And they even use real scientific terms and principles and everything. So you can tell people you’re reading something intellectual.
In reality, it’s WAY more fun than reading some scientific dissertation, because it’s full of cartoon illustrations and witty memes. So it’s like a cross between a People magazine and a parenting book written by Neil DeGrasse Tyson…or maybe Bill Nye.
To give you a little glimpse into the book, I’m going to turn the rest of the post over to the author, Norine. She’s going to tell you the story behind one of the cartoons, “Mach’s Date Night Principal” (See? Science.) I can totally relate to this one (um, anyone else remember that time I freaked out as a first-time mom and learned a very important lesson from a 911 dispatcher? No? Well, you can read about it here). And with that, I give you Norine…
Mach’s Date Night Principle by Norine of
In the first weeks after our son was born, I was so terrified that he’d stop breathing, I would actually wake him up just to check. (Then, of course, I had to deal with the crying.)
But what really inspired this cartoon was my other fear—that our nanny was going to kidnap the baby. In retrospect, I might have been just a tad neurotic. As if a pretty, single twentysomething girl wanted a four-month-old. I mean, who doesn’t want to stay up all night in spit up-encrusted sweats for feedings and diaper changes, right? Fun times! (Lack of sleep really does wonderful things to your brain if you’re prone to neurotic craziness.)
Of course, I’d interviewed the nanny and checked her references and she seemed like a perfectly lovely young woman with plenty of babysitting experience. I was completely comfortable having her in my house. I just wasn’t so comfortable letting her out of my sight. She’d been with me for a few weeks when she asked if she could take the baby for a walk. At the time, we lived in a quiet neighborhood, built on a half-mile loop. As she left my house with the baby in the stroller, I stood at the window and watched her till I couldn’t see her anymore. And then, even though I’d hired her so that I could work in peace on a book I’d just signed a contract to write, I stood at the window instead, counting the minutes till she came back into view.
A few weeks later though, my paranoia really shifted into overdrive. I needed to make a quick business trip to Las Vegas where we’d lived before we relocated to Orlando. I would be gone about 36 hours, and the plan was for the nanny to drop me at the airport, take care of the baby till my husband Stewart came home from work and then pick me up again late the next day.
But when I got in her car to head to the airport, I saw she had a wallet-size picture of my boy propped on her steering wheel. I remembered her asking for a picture. But seeing it in her car really freaked me out. As we drove to the airport, I made her promise to give me practically hourly updates while I was gone. As soon as I cleared security, I called my sister Shari.
“Is it weird that the nanny has a picture of the baby, like in her car? It’s weird, isn’t it?” By then I was probably hyperventilating. Lack of sleep, fluctuating hormones, excess caffeine and some pure unadulterated fear about leaving my baby was making me a tad bonkers. “I think she might kidnap the baby. Do you think it means she’s going to kidnap the baby? Maybe I should come home? I can’t come home. I gotta go to Vegas. But maybe … ”
Ah … there’s really is no crazy like new mother crazy. On the other end of the phone, my sister sighed and said slowly, patiently, “No, I don’t think she’s going to kidnap the baby. I think having a picture in her car is great. It means she loves the baby. It’s a good thing. Now take a deep breath and maybe a Xanax and get on the damn plane. We’ll see you tomorrow.”
When I came through the Arrivals terminal the next day, I was beyond relieved to see nanny and baby waiting for me, just as we planned. Of course, she quit the next day. After all, who wants to work for a crazy woman?
With each successive nanny we had, I relaxed a bit more and gave more latitude until with our final nanny, there were times when I had no idea where my kid was. But I knew if he was with his nanny, he was doing just fine.
Norine Dworkin-McDaniel is co-author with illustrator Jessica Ziegler of and wherever books are sold. Follow Norine and Jessica on their , and , . Is Science of Parenthood coming to your town? Check out our . Want Science of Parenthood to come to your town? !published in November by She Writes Press. It’s available on