When I was pregnant with Zachary, I got my husband a book called The Expectant Father. It was, as far as I could tell, the least offensive of the fathering books out there, a genre that seems to mostly consist of men saying, “Me manly man. Me take care of baby!” Because, really, we just didn’t need a book called My Boys Can Swim.
My husband read a few pages of the book, but he mostly relied upon The Idiot’s Guide to Babies (or something like that). He just isn’t a chest-thumping, football watching, beer drinking kind of guy, despite being absurdly strong (those of you who know him, please tell them I’m right.) Hell, he was in a theater group in college where all the women’s parts were played by men. Granted, he was on the set crew and his role largely consisted of carrying heavy objects around and ending up in the emergency room, but you get my point. He wasn’t going to read a book for new dads that tried to claim all men like to bond over beer and spitting contests. Although, he is always up for a good burping contest…
So, when Chris Mancini’s Pacify Me: A Handbook for the Freaked-Out New Dad arrived in the mail, I took one look at the cover and thought, “Shit. Beer bottles. It’s another one of those books.”
But, it’s not. Chris is kind of a geek with a robot obsession. And he makes Star Trek references. He’s writing a book for the guys who didn’t major in Drink Yourself Silly at Frat Parties for all seven years of college. Take for example his description of the preregistration paperwork you fill out before the baby is born, “which I swear came straight from the movie Brazil. Which, FYI, I think they toss because when you get to the hospital, you will be filling it all out again anyway” (32).
Yes, he does indeed reference Brazil.
I kind of got the feeling reading this book that I would love to hang out with Chris, which is convenient because he lives here in L.A., but also confusing because he lives in here L.A., and I haven’t found all that many down-to-earth people in this city. Then he made a Tastycakes reference and I thought, “Oh, he’s from Philly. That explains it.”
The book is funny. Very, very funny but in a self-deprecating kind of way, like in his discussion of vomit. For a time, the baby only threw up in his wife’s car, Mancini tells us. “I was sure it was her driving. She, however, disagreed rather loudly. I don’t know why I even suggested it. You know that voice in your head that says, ‘You really shouldn’t say that’ right before you say something? Mine is broken” (104). Don’t worry, my husband’s is, too.
Now, don’t get me wrong. This is not the book for clear advice on how to clip those itsy-bitsy fingernails. It is mostly an honest and funny look at how normal men feel about the early stages of having and raising a baby. And some of the advice he does give I disagree with. When he talks about colic, for example, he does not mention that it could be reflux and the doctor can test for that. And while I am not myself an attachment parent, I think those who are should probably skip his opinions on that particular practice. But the book is funny, honest, and not over-the-top macho.
So, if you know a dude who has just become or is about to become a father, I have saved you the trouble of shopping for a Fathers’ Day gift. And I’m not just saying that in hopes that Mancini will drop a shipment of Tastycakes by my house.
I am cross posting this between Wheels on the Bus and Edge of the Page since it is a book review but also relevant to parenting. Which means that those of you who subscribe to both blogs just cleared two posts out of your RSS feed reader. For the record, I am not selling out and hocking products here. I do, however, want to support a new writer who wrote a genuinely funny book. As I mentioned a few weeks ago in my post about Brian, I am not willing to put my reputation on the line to sell someone else’s stuff, but occasionally I am happy to tell you about someone who is doing something I like.