Lee Woodruff is the life and family contributor for ABC’s Good Morning America and a freelance writer. She is on the board of trustees of the Bob Woodruff Family Foundation, a nonprofit organization that provides critical resources and support to our nation’s injured service members, veterans, and their families--especially those affected by the signature hidden injuries of war: traumatic brain injury, post-traumatic stress disorder, and combat stress. Lee Woodruff lives in Westchester County, New York, with her husband, ABC News anchor Bob Woodruff, and their four children. Read her guest review of Didn't I Feed You Yesterday?:
As the mother of four, I am sick to death of watching "helicopter moms" all around me over-parent and over-worry about every aspect of their kids’ lives.
It was refreshing to open Laura Bennett's book Didn't I Feed You Yesterday? and laugh out loud at some of the witty observations she has about parenting and her tongue-in-cheek look at all of us who give in to today’s competitive parenting trends.
With six children of her own, her un-PC philosophy is that if she loses a kid, she has extras. Or, she looks at root canal as a chance to escape from the kids for a while. Go ahead--stifle the laugh, tsk tsk if you will, but Bennett writes what so many of us think in our lowest and most exasperated moments but are afraid to say out loud.
I am a huge fan of essay books like this in today’s completely fractured world. Bennett’s book allowed me to read a little slice of something fun in between taking care of everyone else. And what a bonus to discover a book that is both witty, sarcastic and laugh-out-loud funny.
(Lee Woodruff photo © Stefan Radtke)
Amazon Exclusive: An Essay by Laura Bennett
Don’t Make Me Pull This Car Over
Vehicular discipline used to be so easy. Once my boys start with the "he’s touching me" which moves on to a screaming match and ultimately escalates to them getting out of their seat belts to duke it out, making the van look like a mobile version of Fight Club, I would simply pull over to the side of the road and put the worst offender out of the car. Suddenly the brothers who hated him seconds before tearfully beg me to spare his life.
"No Mom, don’t leave him!" One brother begs.
"Please Mom, we’ll be good. Let him back in." Another boy declares in defense of his brother standing roadside on Route 22.
"You... can’t... just... go...” says my tearful seven-year-old, only able to speak in sobbing spurts.
The fleeting solidarity is quite touching. I pretend to be immune to their pleas, then after a few moments feign repent and allow their brother back in the car. We finish our journey in relative silence with just the sound of an occasional snivel coming from the back. Mission accomplished. The entire episode basically has the effect of an emotional stun gun. No one got hurt, but they are too drained to misbehave. For a couple of blocks anyway.
Phrases like "Stop that fighting or I will leave you right here," "I hope you know your way home because you will be walking," or the perennial "Don’t make me pull this car over" are the stuff of motherhood. Idle threats administered by us, our mothers, and their mothers before them. But thanks to Madlyn Primoff, the Scarsdale mother arrested for putting her two children out of her car and actually driving away, we can no longer use them.
These threats loose all effectiveness now that our children are armed with the knowledge that we could be arrested for following through. It is imperative that kids believe they narrowly escaped hiking home only because they let go of a sibling’s hair or agreed not to sing Banana Nana Bo Bana for the seven hundredth time.
How is this going to work when my own children turn the entire thing around and threaten to call the cops on me? When they smugly announce, "you can’t put us out, you know you’ll be arrested like that woman from Scarsdale."
We have already lost the threat to spank or otherwise inflict bodily harm. Children have figured out that actual physical abuse is an arraignment waiting to happen. My mother was allowed to brandish effective weapons such as, "I brought you into this world and I can take you out," or "I will slap that expression right off your face." Not only did these threats scare me straight, they instilled in me the wisdom not to jump off the Mississippi River Bridge with the rest of my friends.
Child rearing is war, and children are worthy opponents. How are parents expected to succeed with such a depleted arsenal? What is next to go? You are going to bed without dinner? I’m going to tell your father when he gets home? I will wash your filthy mouth out with soap? When I lose the right to tell them that, yes, they should run away and I will help them pack, I surrender. --Laura Bennett
"What all mothers are thinking but much, much, much funnier. Laura Bennett is deft, witty and brilliant."—Molly Jong-Fast, author of The Sex Doctors in the Basement and Normal Girl
"Charming, sophisticated and hilarious. The only thing wrong with this book is that I did not write it."—Patricia Heaton, star of Everybody Loves Raymond