Warning: In case you hadn’t guessed by the title of the book, there’s some mature language in this post.
I love lighthearted parenting books. I mean, seriously. Parents have enough to worry about on a daily basis, and it’s important to maintain a sense of humor, especially when you have a stressful job. (Don’t think parenting is stressful? I could argue with you all day, but let me just say this: it’s the only job I know where you can never clock out. Not even when you’re sleeping.)
In this book, father of twins David Vienna expands on a philosophy popularized by a blog entry of his: the CTFD Method. Basically, regardless of the issue at hand, the solution is always the same: Calm the fuck down. It sounds silly, and it is a bit, but I’m pretty sure that we all need to be reminded to calm down occasionally, especially parents.
The book is separated into sections based on age and category of problem. Each concern starts the same way: illustrating the worst possible thing that could happen if you have a certain problem with your kid. The “CTFD” section that follows each issue explains why you probably shouldn’t be worrying as much as you are. I loved the first half of each page because I have a tendency to imagine the absolute worst in every situation, and some of the overblown parental worries sounded hilariously similar to the way I think. I mean, I know it’s unrealistic, but I still can’t help but run through every negative scenario in my brain. Proof that Vienna gets this (regarding a kid who shows no interest in walking):
…If he shows no interest in learning to walk now, perhaps he’ll never learn. That means you’ll have to find one of those baby walker things in preschooler size, then kid size, then adult size. Or maybe you could just tie him to a skateboard and town him around like a pet.
He won’t make the football team because he’ll never crawl fast enough. You’re already factoring in the expense of kneepads that match his wedding tuxedo so he may proudly clomp down the aisle on all fours.
Yes, this is beyond worst-case scenario, but don’t all parents at some point or other go so far beyond what’s rational that you can’t even see the dividing line anymore? (Or is that just me? Something tells me I can’t be the only one.) This book acknowledges that worrying is normal but shows that, in most cases, calming down will help immensely because the problem probably isn’t as bad as you imagine.
I’ve heard a lot of moms complaining about the What to Expect books because they cover every problem known to man and can make parents worry about problems they didn’t even know they might have. I, on the other hand, love those books because they are so exhaustive that I’m rarely left with follow-up questions. (Of course, I check in with my pediatrician about things, but doing some background reading gives me a good idea of what’s normal.) So when I read Calm the Fuck Down, there wasn’t really any information I didn’t already possess. Here’s the sign of a good book, though: while reviewing my parental knowledge, I had such a kick-ass time that I was never bored.
All in all: Basically, this is the comic version of a What to Expect book (although, at a fraction of the length, it covers less topics). Excellent gift for a new parent or parent-to-be who has a sense of humor!