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Parenting (64 posts)
Men! What are they thinking? We can't always answer that, but we'll be posting our favorite glimpses into their world in this space every Thursday.
* Public Service Announcement: Father's Day is this Sunday. Whether he's a sucker for gadgets or a lover of jazz, we've got 27 unique ways (in every price range) to say, "Thanks, Dad."
* "If you're a man who abhors sexism, take up the spatula.... The only way to erase [stereotypes] from our unconscious minds is to provide our minds, and the minds of our children, with images that counter the stereotypes."—Washington Post reporter Shankar Vedantam in Man with a Pan: Culinary Adventures of Fathers Who Cook for Their Families (Algonquin Books, $15.95)
* Meet Craig Dietz, who was born without limbs, and yet swam in a 4.4 mile race earlier this week. (The Stir)
* Adorable dads pose with their equally adorable children for The Sartorialist. (Racked)
* Last we checked, thoughtful relationship advice wasn't a qualification to become People's Sexiest Man Alive, but it turns out it doesn't hurt. "Relationships ending move you from who you were to who you are at a much more accelerated rate than almost anything else on earth."—Ryan Reynolds (Details)
When it comes to listening to the issues of the people we care about, we so often try to say the right thing and end up saying the wrong thing. Or we worry that we're going to say the wrong thing, and say nothing (my specialty). But those days are now at an end. I'm just going to slap a magnet on everybody in the world, regardless of whether I know what his or her problems are:
A friend of mine recently handed me one of these. I hugged him so hard his head went wobbly. Then I said, "Can you give me nine more?"
"It's a magnet," he said. "How many refrigerators do you have?"
I said, "I'm at a point where I need to stick these puppies up even places they don't actually stick."
Back at home, with the help of Scotch tape, I posted them in every place in my house where I need the Invisible God of Encouragement to tell me that I wasn't alone and that I could, if I reached deep, keep going. Yes, I could make some kind of gluey pasta dinner (forgot to defrost the chicken) while hard-boiling eggs for tomorrow's lunch (husband ate the lunch meat) while sitting on hold with computer support (screen went black) while watching my 5-year-old try to dry his sopping wet sneakers (failed to buy a backup pair even though his school has a tennis-shoes-only policy) with a tiny plastic fan that is supposed to blow bubbles out of his bubble-making water gun.
There are a lot of children's picture books out there that speak to grown-ups as well as kids. This is why 21-year college graduates often get a copy of The Lorax—and why I still get weepy over The Giving Tree by page three, embarrassing my children and staining the black-and-white drawings with tear blobs.
But what about children's picture books that aren't for kids? Two weeks ago, Go the F*** to Sleep hit the number one best-selling spot on Amazon.com, and the book isn't even slated to reach stores until June. Every parent in the world—and child-free friend of a parent—can relate to the message of this hysterical, brilliant, totally inappropriate, curse-filled nursery rhyme:
The eagles who soar through the sky are at rest / And the creatures who crawl, run and creep / I know you're not thirsty. That's bullshit. Stop lying / Lie the f*** down, my darling, and sleep.
Meanwhile, David Eggers (A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius) also has an adult-only children's book coming out the same month. When Marlana Pulled a Thread tells the story of a girl who finds a loose stitch in the world and yanks—undoing trees, palaces, towns, people—until all that's left is a black tangle. For a child, the idea that you can destroy things long past the point of any happy ending is a little overwhelming and scary. But for an adult, it's a much-needed reminder of the consequences of how we live our lives.
There's something kinder and easier to take, too, about being shown such a painfully true parable by comforting, retro line drawings. I am considering writing and illustrating such a book for my husband called Lawrence Takes Out the Trash.