I did a lot of re-reading this summer, both fiction and nonfiction. Sometimes I was just lazy and wanted to enjoy something I knew I'd already enjoyed, and sometimes I wanted to see if something I remembered liking held up in the re-reading. One nonfiction title that held up (it got better, actually), was Christie Mellor's fun little guide The Three-Martini Playdate: A Practical Guide to Happy Parenting.
I originally read this slim little book before I had a kid,* and it struck me as funny and quite pragmatic then. Now that CRjr is around, this book strikes me as pure genius. Here's some of the chapter headings: "Saying No to Your Child: It's a Kick!", "Bedtime: Is Five-thirty Too Early?", and "Self-Esteem and Other Over-Rated Concepts." Those are good, but the text is even better:
"There is no shame in explaining to your children that they should go and find Something to Do, that the grown-ups are having grown-up talk, that they, the little children, need to go somewhere and be little children. Whether you would like to share a portion of your time with one grown-up or a party of them, or simply enjoy a moment alone, it is time to exert a little autonomy and encourage some in your child. This book explains how. It's time to warm up the ice cubes, curl up on the sofa, and send darling Spencer into the other room to play by himself. Mummy and Daddy need a little break." (p. 13.)
At last! A parenting book I can get behind. And lest anyone think Mellor is simply calling for ignoring one's children, this paragraph appears a scant few pages later:
"I am not espousing a return to the era when children were seen and not heard--a lofty goal, but one which is now simply impractical. In fact, one should have conversations with the children from time to time, so that they will learn how to speak with confidence and enthusiasm, should a grown-up wish to have a thoughtful exchange." (p. 32.)
Mellor can also be quite practical. In a later chapter she discusses what you absolutely need when you go to make visits with your baby, and the list is simple: 3 to 5 diapers, a small blanket or two or an extra sweater or hat, a small tote of cars, a coloring book, or reading materials (depending on the age of the child), and "a nice bottle of wine for your hosts, which should be opened upon arrival." (p. 48.)
Loved this book then. Love this book now. Find copies of it anywhere you can to buy and take to the next baby shower to which you're invited.
*Don't ask me why. I like to read stuff that is age- and situation-inappropriate, for whatever reason. I read a lot of dating manuals after I got married, and I read a ton of parenting books before I had a kid.