No wonder print media are on the decline. Here are 2 recent experiences I had with magazines giving me some “helpful” advice for parents.
I was reading a parenting magazine that I chose because it had on the cover an exhortation to “Bring Sexy Back! Hot tips for tired moms.” Thinking to myself, “Indeed, I am a tired mom, who used to enjoy conjugal relations but now much more enjoys sleeping,” I read with eagerness how to recapture the libido of my youth. I found advice such as “Remember you are sexy.” Now really. I can barely remember where I live most days, or what day of the week it is. Do you really think I have space, in my increasingly long checklist of Things To Remember (#1: You have a baby. You brought him to the grocery store. Bring him with you when you leave), to remember that I am “sexy”? If I did that, I would have to displace something else, and would probably end up forgetting my bus card in the morning. Oh wait — I did that. I went back to get it, and left again only to realize I had forgotten my shoes to wear at work. I went back to get them, and left again only to realize I had forgotten my keys. Etc. Another helpful hint was “remember how you perked up last time when he did That Thing.” Unless “That Thing” refers to “gave you an I.V. of Red Bull,” then no, frankly, I don’t remember. Probably because I’m too busy trying to remember I’m sexy. Where is the REAL helpful stuff, like “Before going home from work for a romantic evening, drink 4 double grandes heavily laced with Jameson’s.” That might actually help matters.
And then, I discovered (while trying to organize the basement. Don’t get me started) an old Utne Reader from 2004 that I had saved specially because it was all about parenting. “Certainly,” I told myself at the time, “A young, hip liberal such as myself needs advice from the Utne Reader about cool, hip, liberal ways of parenting.” And so it was saved. For 4 years. This is why the basement is a disaster. Amidst the talk of the upcoming 2004 Presidential Election that brings nostalgiac tears to my eyes, were these gems on “Soulful Parenting.” The first was to “pick an author to ‘adopt’ into your family. Then every night at the dinner table, ask ‘what does Uncle Dickens’ (or Aunt Allende) have to say?’ and take turns reading a passage.” Dear Lord. I am an English major and that sounds too hokey and mind-numbing for me. Then there was “Make a circle in the corner of the living room an ‘imagination space.'” Slightly better, I suppose, but my friend Julie, who is the best Mom I know, makes their whole house — nay, their whole life — an “imagination space.” You could go to their house and find them sitting on blankets in the middle of the living room, because that’s the only place where the dinosaurs can’t come. Or you may find out that her daughter didn’t take a nap because there was a giant in her room, and he was snoring. Why do you just need a corner? That’s not much fun. And the one that made me stuff the magazine into the recycling bin was “Go to the park and find a tree that exemplifies your sense of humor.” Honestly. How high do they think I let my kid get? (JoeKim notwithstanding). A tree. exemplifying my sense of humor. It went on to give you tips on what to do if you could not find said tree, but I didn’t really keep reading after that. I assume that if you can’t find a tree that seems especially funny to you, you should maybe do an interpretive dance to express your sadness, and bury a box filled with your worries under a bamboo plant during a full moon.
Or maybe go home, have a few coffees laced with Jameson’s, and put the baby to bed early.