Because our house contains a small yet fully functional human, we automatically receive, by mail, roughly 25 pounds of parenting magazines per month. I don't know how the magazine people find us; maybe they have an orbiting satellite that detects the roof-penetrating aroma rays emitted by used diapers. All I know is, these magazines keep coming to our house, filled with articles for clueless new parents, with headlines like:
"Which Specific Gender Is Your Baby? 23 Ways to Tell."
"461 Common Household Items That Could Easily Wind Up in Your Baby's Nose."
"38 Ways to Spruce Up an Unattractive Baby Using Big Hats."
"Whatever Way You Installed Your Baby's Car Seat, It's Wrong."
"The Colicky Child: A Doctor Explains Why Heroin Is Not the Answer. At Least Not for the Child."
And of course there are endless articles on potty training, as well as books on potty training, CDs on potty training and elaborate videos on potty training, starring Keanu Reeves as a major bodily function. This is insane. Potty training is not that complicated. You just follow this simple three-step procedure:
STEP ONE: Get a potty.
STEP TWO: Explain to the child that Mommy and Daddy use a potty, and Big Bird uses a potty, and Barney uses a potty, and Vice President Cheney uses a potty in an undisclosed location, and it's time for the child to start using the potty, so he or she can be a big boy or girl and everybody will be so proud and it will be so much fun!
STEP THREE: Leave immediately on a 15-day business trip.
By the time you return, your child will be potty-trained, and you can say "so long" to diapers! This is good, as you will need money for the divorce.
But my point is that there is a vast quantity of information out there for parents of small children, written by experts, and most of it is a complete waste of time. What we parents need is practical advice on how to handle real-life parenting scenarios, such as these, which are taken from actual situations involving my actual family:
SCENARIO ONE: You are driving. Your 2-year-old child is riding in back, strapped into her car seat, which you have probably installed incorrectly. Suddenly, your child receives one of those transgalactic radio signals that children get from the Planet of Random Thoughts, and declares: "Birds don't have eyebrows." You agree with this statement. Your child then says: "But I have eyebrows." Again, you agree. The back seat is silent for a moment. Then there is a loud wail of anguish. "What's wrong?" you say, trying to look backward and drive forward at the same time. "I CAN'T FIND MY EYEBROWS!" the child wails. "It's okay!" you say. "You have eyebrows! On your head! In the front!" "BUT I DON'T FEEL THEM!" your child wails. You can't pull off the road. Your child is getting hysterical. You are starting to wonder if your child did, somehow, lose her eyebrows while in your care, in which case you will be in serious trouble when you get home.
SCENARIO TWO: Your 2-year-old child sees a dead worm on the sidewalk. Your child, sensing that things might not be going well for the worm--perhaps because about 17,000 ants are eating it--wants the worm to move. "He doesn't want to move right now," you say. "He's sleeping." Your child starts to cry. She's even more upset than when she lost her eyebrows. She demands that you wake the worm up. You find yourself on hands and knees, nudging the worm, which is displaying the same vital signs, and stiffness level, as a pretzel, and you are saying, "Wake up, Wormie Wormie!" You feel like an idiot. Even the ants are laughing at you. (Just wait until they have kids.)
SCENARIO THREE: You are at McDonald's, and your child has climbed, all by herself, to the very top of the climbing maze in the kiddie play area. When she gets up there, she begins to cry, very loudly. All of McDonald's has stopped, in mid-chew, to stare. Your child will not say why she is crying, and she will not come down. You have no choice but to crawl all the way to the top of the maze, through tunnels designed for people who are the size of a single one of your thighs. When you reach the top, your child hands you the cause of her distress: a booger. With this item in hand, you must now climb back down.
These are the kinds of issues that we parents are dealing with out here in the real world. I want a magazine for us!
I will use it to kill these ants.