Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Review: Confessions of a Slacker Mom

Confessions of a Slacker Mom
Muffy Mead-Ferro

I picked up this book at, of all places, a Scholastic Book Fair being held at my son's school. Somehow, in dipping into it, I thought I was going to be getting a funny look at modern child-rearing from the mom perspective, perhaps a kind of Erma Bombeck-Dave Barry stir fry.

Not quite.

Mom is actually fairly serious, despite a certain irreverent tone. More on that later.

The author in this short and small (a sort of pamphlet after several rounds of weight-lifting and high-protein shakes) book takes issue with…well, pretty much everything most people seem to take issue with regard to the rearing of children these days. Overscheduling, getting the kid on waiting lists to exclusive prep day cares before birth, scrapbooking their first sippy cup, that sort of thing. Oh, and being overprotective, etc.

At first I was nodding my head in agreement. After all, she grew up on a cattle ranch in Wyoming, and much of formative years were spent on a cattle ranch in South Texas. Kids don't really need a battery-powered geographic globe-thing to have fun -- a sturdy stick will often do nicely. But after a while I began to get a bit tired of the same ol' same ol' of the book, which ran thusly: Slacker mom encounters some excessive behavior, slacker mom decides either out of conviction or laziness not to engage in said activity, slacker mom justifies outcome of said non-engagement by describing how it is better for the children not to have it.

There's only so much of that one can take, even if you are in general agreement. Oh yeah, and that tone. What starts out as irreverent after a while starts to seem…I'm not sure I can describe it, but to me it comes off as a sort of sarcastic smugness. And aren't these sort of things often pretty easy targets, for all that people do seem to engage in them? And while I confess to having given our son Jacob too many toys, the arbitrary way they limited toys for their kids struck me as insane. And even when admitting it was arbitrary, the author rolled on to her standard defense of her attitudes.

[you need a "to be sure" graph here -- ed.]

To be sure, the author says she might be wrong, the things she complains about might not always be all that bad (even harmless). But its pretty clear that she doesn't really buy that. Otherwise, why do it? Finally, I have to acknowledge that part of my reaction may be due not getting what I expected. I wanted something funny, not a long bit of self-justification.

In the end, despite generally agreeing with the slacker mom's thesis of trust your instincts, don't over do it, you don't really need the "Baby Genius Super Brain Developing Mobile" in order for your kid to get into Harvard Medical school, I can't say I liked this little book, nor can I recommend it (unless you have a friend who could really use a good talking to about chilling out on the French flash cards for their two-year old).

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