Mr. Brown Can Moo, Can You?

Yesterday night a book called "What to Expect: The First Year" jumped out of the bookcase into my hands as I walked jauntily through the den enroute the television set. I was jaunty because the baby was sleeping; the dishes were done; and the house was somewhat clean. I felt less encumbered than I had in months--nine months, to be exact. I was free to throw more than a casual glance at the tome resting in my grasp. I had time to peruse.

I cracked the virgin binding of the book in which I now had less than 1/4 of an interest (in a strictly calendarial sense). For nine months, I had been too busy living my daughter's first year to do any reading about it. Not that I would have chosen this post-partum member of the "What to Expect" series if I had had the time. The original guide, "What to Expect When You're Expecting," was filled with enough old-wives and old-doctor crap to keep me on the cutting edge of pregnancy science well into the 1940s. I didn't buy them, by the way. They were gifts.

So I flipped through to the Ninth Month section and realized it was laid out exactly like the pregnancy version. Eureka! Oh, the ease with which I can assess my daughter's development and completely freak out because she's developing at her own pace and not theirs. As I read about "pincer grips" and the discriminate v. indiscriminate "da-da," I realized this was crap I did not need. For three quarters of a year we had been doing just fine with the knowledge that her doctor thinks she's doing swell. To begin comparing her in any depth to other kids would be the start of a journey down a slippery slope better left ungreased by my ass. I'm doing the best I can. A book won't make me better. Not that kind of book, anyway.

Back to the collected works of Dr. Seuss.


Anonymous motherhooduncensored said...

That book sucks - along with all the babycenter emails. I had to put that thing away long ago.

Dr. Suess - way better.

4:53 PM  
Blogger Karen said...

Oh, Binky, you have no idea...well, maybe you do...how much grief that book has caused me. Burn it.

6:14 PM  
Blogger J said...

My husband used to joke that they would have, "What to expect, the middle age years", because they keep having more and more of them. They are lame. Burn them.

6:43 PM  
Blogger Carrie said...

One of the things that I dislike about motherhood is the fact that everyone seems so quick to compare their kids to other kids and to what books say. It is sad. I hate that entire series.

7:15 PM  
Blogger Antique Mommy said...

You are a wise woman. Opt out of the kid-comparison game. Nothing good can come of it. I don't buy those glossy fashion magazines for the same reason. I will not feel better later.

8:14 PM  
Blogger wordgirl said...

I remember thinking that the book was a little like reading the Fannie Farmer Cookbook...only with a focus on babies. Really old-fashioned.

10:59 PM  
Blogger Michele said...

Amen! And may I also echo Kristen's disdain for the babycenter emails.

My doctors say my best guide is my gut - do I see my kids developing new skills? Are they growing? Do I see progress? Then all is well.

I avoid all baby development stuff because it just makes me crazy. I do check in with my sister (mother of four including one who is just three months ahead of my boys) and she keeps reminding me that they all develop differently and they all know how to walk, talk, pee in the potty, etc. etc. by the time they start school. If not, THEN I can worry.

8:36 AM  
Anonymous Amy (binkytown) :) said...

Good for you! I find it way too easy to get sucked into those books and find myself panicking on a regular basis for five minutes until I calm my self back down. You've got the right attitiude!

9:37 AM  
Blogger macboudica said...

Good for you for tossing that book! Kids are all unique and to compare them is a shame.

9:46 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

yea, I swear I've had to unlearn all things we "learned" from that book....i wouldn't put it upon anyone...anyone i like anyways.

- Jon
- Daddy Detective
- www.daddydetective.com

10:00 AM  
Blogger T. said...

Dr. Suess rocks. That book, not so rocking. I believe it was put out there just to create mother neurosis, so that the therapists out there won't go out of business.

Glad you recognized it before you got sucked in...

11:43 AM  
Anonymous JGS said...

I actually found those books helpful, but didn't take them too seriously so that helped. I didn't know anything and something was better than nothing, I found. BUT Dr. Seuss, he has done a lot more for me and my relationship with my Okapis. Fox in Socks is one of my Okapis' favorite books. When I read it to them with all of the tongue twisters, they laugh. They laugh even harder when I mess up. It is the only time in my life, I hope I screw up so it will come out sounding really funny and we get to lean it to each other laughing away.

2:22 PM  
Anonymous Kevin said...

How sad... Apparently everyone here never realized that sex is for pleasure, not procreation.


4:37 PM  
Blogger lynsalyns said...

I hated "What To Expect." So nambly-pambly. Someone gave me the Dr. Sears guide and oh. my. gawd. it was even worse. I'm a by the book kinds gal, but I'm with you on this one. You're better off trusting your own instincts every time.

8:28 AM  
Anonymous lildb said...

*nods along with Amy*

The thing I keep reminding myself is that I've yet to meet any adults who never worked out the whole walking thing, and they seem to have (most of) their teeth, etc. Hence my current disregard for those blankety-blank books. Yes, please, don't read them. They just make porridge out of your formerly well-placed brains. Dr. Seuss is a much more logical choice.

1:33 AM  
Blogger Gurukarm Kaur said...

The book I liked the most when DD was little was Penelope Leach's "Your Baby and Child, Birth to Five Years". I actually read a lot of it during her first year, not so much after that.

The reason I liked it was because she was very calm, down-to-earth, and real. When she discussed developmental stages for instance, she'd say "this can happen any time from (such and such age) all the way to (some other age), it's all normal." She placed nearly no emphasis on "this HAS to happen by such and such age or your kid is abnormal".

Very little judgement, lots of useful information.

9:46 AM  

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