Recently, I was asked to write an article on the topic of parenting. It took me a week to agree to the project, a month to write the first draft, and I am limping along here with the final post six weeks from the actual deadline. The assignment has me reevaluating both my role as a writer and as a parent. I realize one is optional and the other is not, but I care passionately about both and yet I am so far from expertise or even maturity in either field. Both are on the puree setting in the ‘ole brain blender, and the result is a whole lot of delete… delete… edit… delete… that sounds stupid…. delete… edit… you don’t know what the heck you’re talking about… delete.
Last week, I stumbled on this parenting article, and not only did it make me laugh out loud, but it breathed some fresh inspiration into my otherwise lacking motivation. Pieces like this make me A. want to be a writer, and B. want to write so accessibly that it makes the reader say, “I’ve so done that… thought that… said that!”
Here’s an exert from the article, 10 Types of Irritating Advice for Parents:
Family, friends and more or less total strangers feel a compulsive urge to give advice… Here are some of the worst forms of advice. Be warned.
1. Bossy books from bossy self-appointed experts.
Have new parents been robbed of their decision-making powers?
Why else would there be so many irritating books telling them how to behave. There are more than 70,000 parenting books on sale. They hide behind cutesy covers, all jelly colours and gurgling babies, but look within and it’s more like a drill sergeant marching parents around the nursery.
These experts don’t want to help young parents, they want to become leaders of cults. There are rules for everything and rule number one is that all the other rules are going to make everyone miserable. It’s going to end in tears, usually from the parents.
2. Unbearably competent (borderline patronising) friends.
Make that ex-friends, because it’s not normal to have life so well organised.
You know the sort. He’s baking organic vegetable snacks while she’s teaching the two-year-old how to count in Catalan.
They organised the right school moments after conception. They know everything, you know nothing.
Their baby has never cried, never thrown up on the hire car, it never even really seemed to be a baby at all, but was more like a middle-aged Archers’ fan hidden in a macrame shawl. And please, please, please don’t tell us how to be like you.
…They do it better in France.
They’ve got a second home there, they drive down in the summer and they come back with that certain je ne sais quoi.
The quoi in question is usually along the lines of how much nicer French children’s clothes are and how French children can eat in restaurants without looking like they’ve been face-painting with guacamole.
And they just can’t resist giving you that little tip, that little special bit of advice picked up from an old French villager. Just learn how to say non.