I picked up Amber Dusick’s book after a friend described it as “[h]ands down the best parenting book I’ve ever read.” Verdict? Not so much. Parenting: Illustrated teaches one absolutely nothing about parenting; like Scary Mommy, however, it provides lighthearted commiseration for the, well, crappier parts of parenting. Without the pictures, I would have found the humor good-but-not-great, yet Dusick’s writing is ridiculously funny when accompanied by her amateur visuals. If you’re looking for a super quick, light read that will make you laugh out loud at least twice—thinking, “Yes! That’s totally how it happens!”—this is your book. Those seeking deep reflection or practical advice ought to look elsewhere.
Here are a few jokes that should give you a sense of Dusick’s vibe:
- You know what changed after I had kids? Everything.
- But enough of these superficial complaints. Who cares, right? My body made people. I’m like a wizard. Wizards don’t need perfect bodies because they wear robes. I have a robe. It is purple. (See how I distracted you from my body flaws by talking about wizards? This always works. Feel free to steal it.)
- The only thing that was actually effective at tricking my babies into sleeping was not something money could buy. It was me. Well, actually it was my milk-producing nipple pacifiers. But we’ll say it was me because that sounds cozy.
- All is quiet. I, too, can sleep. But this is the first me time I’ve had all day! I suddenly have a burst of energy! I’m alone and free! I’ll just check my email quickly before I head to bed. Four hours pass.
- Kids like crackers. Parents like crackers because they aren’t candy, but are just as easy. I don’t trust crackers. Why? Because crackers create a mess that is larger in volume than the original cracker ever was.
- Honestly, even the bad stuff is good stuff when it isn’t happening.
- Changing a diaper in an airplane bathroom is like changing a diaper inside an empty refrigerator that a drunk person is pushing around on a dolly.
- Oh sure, the waiting room has a designated “Reserved for Healthy Kids” section, but it is sort of like the division of smoking and nonsmoking sections in an enclosed space. . . . Every mother knows that when your child is sick he gets to play with the toys. When your child is not sick, you do everything in your power to avoid physical contact with the toys.
- Some indoor play gyms are okay. As long as they hose them down or light them on fire once every few years. Other ones are breeding grounds for unsavory things. And I’m not just talking about feral kids with no parents in sight. I’m talking about malaria. . . . When we get home, I bathe them in bleach. But it doesn’t matter.
- [My husband] gets sick. On the weekend. How very convenient for him. I try not to be bitter. He really doesn’t have control over the timing. At least I don’t think he does. So he proceeds to spend an entire day in bed. Alone. Moaning.
- Crappy Boy likes to pretend. Hard. He was once a robot for three consecutive days. And one time, when he was four, he was a chimney sweep for nearly two weeks.
- One toy and two children is a recipe for war. . . . My kids would fight over dog shit if there was only one pile of it available.
- We have a serious toy overgrowth problem in our house. This is because toys can reproduce like weeds. They do it when we aren’t paying attention. Children are also to blame because they help with propagation. They introduce toy species into nonnative habitats. These toys are invasive. They ruin the landscape and even cause harm to the resident mammals.
Dusick concludes the book with a sort of parenting-specific Murphy’s Laws; my favorite ones follow:
- If you are sweeping, the only path they can take is right through the pile.
- The more you are running late, the more poop happens.
- The more important a phone call is, the louder they become.
- The one thing you forget to bring is the one thing they ask for.
- The one day you only brought three diapers along is the day they will poop four times.
- They only spike a fever after the sun goes down and the doctor’s office is closed.
- If you toss out that half of a plastic Easter egg they got three years ago, they will notice.