Top positive review
77 people found this helpful
Laugh-out-loud funny, but be sure to boil it before you feed it to the kids
on December 22, 2005
Need to set up a home birthing center, but all you've got on hand are a stack of newspapers and a packet of sterile vulva pads? Or maybe your baby's already arrived, but his ears are annoyingly prominent? Perhaps you're not sure how long you have to boil milk to tame its indigestible curds. Let James Lileks lead you through some of the sage parenting advice our forbears listened to in the olden days, back when "most of Mom's time was spent boiling bottles, dads were curious grumpy stubbled things that appeared in the house for no discernible reason, car seats resembled launching pads, and the children were spanked with hairbrushes for the sin of Constipation."
In his beautifully illustrated Mommy Knows Worst Lileks reproduces scores of old ads and newspaper columns offering their often questionable advice about raising children. (Hint: whatever you do, DON'T PICK UP JUNIOR! You might land him in an insane asylum.) But better than the ads themselves is Lileks's snarky commentary on them, which will have you laughing aloud sometimes several times a page.
["The nursing mother should cleanse her nipples before and after each feeding with boric acid solution."]
"There's nothing wrong with boric acid, except for the acid part; no matter how mild the stuff may be, this passage still seems to suggest that nursing mothers should plunge their teats into something one associates with the innards of automotive batteries."
Not quite as amusing in the second half (on fatherhood, clothes and accessories) as the first, but the section early on in the book on health and hygiene (Tuesday is Diaper Boiling Day!) is alone worth the price of admission.
Reviewed by Debra Hamel, author of Trying Neaira: The True Story of a Courtesan's Scandalous Life in Ancient Greece