Are daddies funnier than mommies?
01 July 2013
Be aware, I don't really think that headline is true. I just thought it would be a nice incendiary way to start the week.
I did have this thought, though, as I was reading and enjoying Drew Magary's Daddy Memoir Someone Could Get Hurt: A Memoir of Twenty-First-Century Parenthood. Magary has three kids, and this book consists mainly of quick vignettes of his parenting experience. (He's also a magazine and fiction writer, which means his writing is pretty snappy and very easy to read quickly.) It's not perfect, but I actually laughed out loud at it in several places. I love to laugh, but I am not really a laugh-out-louder while I read, so this book took me by surprise.
Evidently I must be experiencing motherhood from a more male point of view, because so many little things Magary threw in appealed to me:
When his wife wanted to call the doctor to ask if loud music (they were at a concert) would harm the fetus: "'She might get pissed at me for calling.'
'Screw that,' I said. Doctors go to great lengths to guilt-trip every patient into not calling them outside of office hours. They have the whole trap set. They have that voicemail message that tells you to call 911 first. Then it says, 'Well, if you really have to talk to the doctor, leave a message on our answering service.' They give you every opportunity to feel like shit for bothering the poor doctor during dinner. It's a process designed to weed out the faint of heart. I refused to be cowed. 'Don't feel bad about calling her,' I said. 'You pay those people hundreds of dollars every visit. Call the shit out of them.'" (p. 15.)
Tee hee. Of course, you'll notice another part of the appeal of Magary (to me, anyway): He swears a lot. I find this appropriate, as parenting does seem to induce some level of swearing (which you try to keep quiet, sometimes successfully, sometimes not) on a daily basis.
And then there was this bit, which was more serious, but actually made me feel vindicated for some dark thoughts I had when CRjr was tiny and crying in the middle of the night and I was so, so tired:
"She kept on crying and jerking her head around. Eventually, she gave me a full-on head butt and I recoiled in anger. I remember being furious with her, which is insane because how mad can you get at a baby? Oh, but you can. Late at night, when no one is watching, you can get obscenely angry at a baby. You stupid fucking baby. Sometimes you read about babies dying from shaken baby syndrome and you wonder, Why would anyone want to shake a baby? How is this such a widespread problem? And then your child head-butts you in the dead of night and suddenly there's a little voice in your head whispering to you, Go ahead, shake that baby. Maybe shaking it gets all the tears out! You just want the child to snap out of it and calm down, and you're willing to consider anything, even the stupidest idea. You feel like a monster merely for having the thought." (p. 26.)
I give him points for honesty there, and for understanding that terrible feeling in a way my husband never did, because I nursed and was mainly in charge of nighttime care. He was amenable to me waking him up to relieve me, but I don't think he ever experienced that exhauasted, 3 a.m., "you've been fed and changed and rocked and you're still crying, why?" frustration in quite the way I (and evidently Magary) did.
And last but not least, a lighter bit:
"I'm not sure any group of parents has ever been subjected to as much widespread derision as the current generation of American parents. We are told, constantly, how badly we are fucking our kids up. There are scores of books being sold every day that demonstrate how much better parents are in China, and in France, and in the Amazon River Basin. I keep waiting for a New York Times article about how leaders of the Cali drug cartel excel at teaching their children self-reliance." (p. 137.)
I've already gone on too long in this post; a bit more tomorrow on all this. In the meantime, if you're looking for a funny, quick parenting read, you could do a lot worse than this one.