There is a joke in my husband's family--not a joke, really--about how in the world the parents, particularly moms, survived our generation's childhood. My mother-in-law is oldest of three siblings; she had five kids, her sister had four, and her brother had three, so there were often events where there were three moms and twelve cousins running around. This was especially true in summer, when all the moms moved up to the mountains for the hot season (pre-AC days) and the dads came up on weekends after putting in a full week at work. "How did you do it?" the kids now ask, and often answer their own question: "I remember a lot of Manhattans."
Enter my next book in my Fall in to Reading list: The Three-Martini Playdate by Christie Mellor. I should have listened to Anjali back in September when she recommended it as a fast, fun read; it is absolutely both of those things. And the illustrations are fabulous--very 1950's style women and kids in somewhat silly or outrageous poses, like the kewpie-ish tyke on the front with the shaker of martinis, or the Leave-It-To-Beaver-era dad in full suit, holding a kid in a towel post-bath.
Christie Mellor is very amusing. She writes as though she is the modern embodiment of David Sedaris's mother in Naked, with lots of references to martinis and cigarettes and other things that are pretty far out of my daily life and always have been. Her premise is that before your kids were born, you were the center of your own universe. You are bigger than they are. Why did you let them win?
At least from my perspective she swings back and forth between honestly good advice and outrageous you-can't-be-serious ones. I agreed with several of her stances, as do most sane parents I know (birthday parties have gotten out of hand; too many toys do nobody any good), and I got lots of giggles out of her suggestions (buy the smallest possible toys so they are easy to hide when guests come over). And I can't wait to try her retro party recipes (weenie fondue and devilish eggs). But maybe because I'm in a sensitive point about my own parenting, it was hard not to feel prickly about some of her "suggestions," tongue in cheek as they may have been. While I love the title of the chapter "Bedtime: Is 5:30 Too Early?" right now it's such a battle in our house, I think I've lost my sense of humor on the topic.
But, that's far more about me than the book. This was a super-quick and funny read, and it was easy to recognize myself and several other parents in it. Whatever your parenting pet peeve, you'll find it in here, skewered nicely, and all in a good-looking, compact form, ready to be swallowed in one bite, or enjoyed in nibbles, like the hors d'ouevres she recommends. Which I will be serving in our book group discussion on Thursday--if only I can get the boys to nap.