I admit I have a tendency to sometimes exaggerate (my wife calls it lying), but the books I’m about to discuss are actual books. Their purpose – to teach men how to deal with pregnant wives or raise young children.
Let’s start with the best titled book, Babies and Other Hazards of Sex: How to Make a Tiny Person in Only 9 Months With Tools You Probably Have Around the Home. Then there are the knock-offs on the women’s pregnancy Bible – What to Expect When You’re Expecting. A couple of these copycats are What to Expect When Your Wife Is Expanding and What the Heck Were You Expecting?: A Complete Guide for the Perplexed Father.
There’s also She’s Having a Baby: And I’m Having a Breakdown, and my personal favorite: My Boys Can Swim: The Official Guy’s Guide to Pregnancy (if you can’t figure out this last one, then blame your parents or your high school science teacher). These books can be futher classified by two categories; they are either books for men written by women or books for men written by women pretending to be men.
The books for men written by women always focus on women even though they are supposed to be for men. These books say things like: “During the first trimester, if your wife says she is hungry, you must meet her needs exactly. If she says she wants Peppermint ice cream with chocolate fudge, then that is what her body, hence the baby, craves. While you may have vanilla ice cream with caramel topping in the freezer, this is not what her body, hence the baby, craves. So you must get out of bed, get dressed, get in the car and go meet her needs. To not do this could be detrimental to the health of your unborn child.” Or “Vitamin E Cream should be applied to the stomach to help prevent stretch marks. Early on in the pregnancy the husband might want to practice for this important application by liberally applying lavender oil to the woman’s shoulders and feet. To keep from confusing the fetus, this should be done on a daily basis.”
The books for men written by women pretending to be men are even worse. In these books the men talk like cavemen (aka Tim Allen or your-name-here) and use phrases like “Me man, you diaper.” These books are comprised of very short, simple sections with headings like “Breast or Bottle” (lest the short attention spans of us dumb men get lost between SportsCenter, beer, and the discussion over how to feed our new child).
A Guy’s Guide to Pregnancy was written by a woman who was not pregnant. Even the cover is unrealistic. The cover features a touchy feely picture of a man standing behind a pregnant woman and reaching around her stomach. Some type of trick photography was involved or this guy’s arms actually drag the ground while he walks. Or maybe there are two men behind her. Anyway, this monkey of a man is palming this ridiculously prego stomach like he’s Kobe Bryant. The woman is smiling and has one hand placed over the one squeezing her stomach. The picture was obviously taken in the instant before she drove her elbow into the man’s nose and then ate three of his fingers.
101 Secrets a Good Dad Knows by Walter and Sue Ellin Browder clearly makes my case. I can tell you now that Walter had nothing to do with this book. Walter probably slept in his Lazy-Boy while Sue Ellin, wrestling with her new stay-at-home mom feelings of inadequacy, hacked this thing out. This one is “filled with instructions for simple projects that will make a dad look like a hero to his children, such as: How to Skip a Rock, How to Change a Sparkplug, How to Carve a Whistle, How to Identify Five Icky Things Under a Rock, and Which Properties to Buy in Monopoly.” There’s no mention of a follow up chapter about carting Dad to the emergency room after he whittles off his thumb or gets bitten by one of the unidentified icky things. The book does claim “knowing how to do these things will raise children’s self esteem, increase their confidence and foster self-reliance.” This book might also scare children to death when they realize their dolt of a dad needed instructions to learn how to skip a rock. Besides, I personally subscribe to a slum lord philosophy when buying Monopoly properties.
Does this mean that I missed something as a child? Is this a reflection of my father’s ability to raise children? Or is this simply what happens when a woman decides to write a book for men?
One more thing, if Sue Ellin feels confident enough to push this book onto the public, what else is she up to? Somebody better wake up Walter.