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Dr. Spock: Childcare Guru or Deranged Maniac? - Episode 4

It's been a while, but those of you who've been putting up with me for some time might remember the Dr. Spock series, wherein we review Dr. Ben Spock's child rearing advice in an attempt to determine whether he was trying to dramatically endanger our babies, or if he was just trying to kill them outright.
This tattered copy has obviously been used
to endanger several generations.

In Episode 1: Getting Ready For Baby, we discovered the need for a car bed and came to terms with the fact that we're going to screw everything up.  We also explored Postpartum Depression treatments, such as stealing our infant's sedatives and/or buying a purty hat.

In Episode 2: A Typical Day With Baby, we learned to put our babies out to graze on the lawn all day, which you'd think we couldn't screw up, but we were taught that we'll probably screw it up anyway.

In Episode 3: Your Child Has the Plague, we learned what we did wrong that led to our kid getting that cough that sounds like a dog coughing up a cat that's coughing up a furball, and determined how much Castor oil to give them so they'll feel well enough to go back out on the lawn where they belong.

It's taken me a while to get to the next Episode because I've been really, really busy (that's a lie)  but also because, as it turns out, writing a post that contains real facts and research takes quite a bit longer than writing a post in which I totally fabricate all the facts and research.  Go figure.  But I couldn't end the series without at least one more peek into the psychotic mind of an outdated and (allegedly) demented baby doctor, so here it is:

Episode 4: You've Got Problems, Lady

Don't read this - it's too many words, and the description of
parenting is so exhausting it made me want to send the kids out
to play in traffic while I took a nap.
I included it here just so you'd believe I really read the book.
Doc Spock admits freely that parenting is no walk in the park.  In fact, he says "at best, there's lots of hard work and deprivation" (thanks for putting such a positive spin on it).  But aside from the obvious hassles of feeding and talking to our children, there are plenty of other issues to deal with along the way (oh, good, I was hoping there'd be more time and effort involved).  You may have noticed that I specified You've Got Problems, Lady  in this episode, because it's pretty clear who's expected to handle the dirty work (that's you,  mom  - the same person who's been expected to handle everything else so far, from nipple hygiene to ensuring a badminton net is secured tightly over the crib so the baby can't escape).

There are many types of Parenting Problems for which we need to be on the lookout.  For instance, what if some heartless beast of a mother has the nerve to work outside the home?  Dr. Spock is quick to rush in from 1957 and reassure us that "usually their children turn out all right" but cautions that many kids "grow up neglected and maladjusted" (p 569).  How do we deal with this issue?  I read this section several times, and it appears the answer is remarkably simple - just don't work outside the home, gals.   Duh.  That probably should have been super obvious, what with Dr. Spock gently reminding us that babies have a 98.2% likelihood of becoming sociopathic miscreants if their mother isn't in the house with them 24/7.

What about Dad - does he need to be home, too?  No, of course not, he'll probably almost never be at home!  But don't worry, the doctor has also included a section titled The Fatherless Child, bearing in mind that in 1950s-Land "fatherless" just means that the father is off on business, not that there IS no father around (that would just be ridiculous).  This is a particularly troubling Parenting Problem if the child is a boy, because of the danger that the mother might "[get] him interested in clothes and interior decoration" (heaven forbid).  We all know what THAT leads to: Sissypants Syndrome.  So it's once again up to the mother to fix the situation - in this case, she needs to make sure she hangs out with lots of different men so her children are regularly exposed to "substitute fathers" (p 577).  Also, lots of photos and letters should be sent to the absentee father to ensure he remains an Involved Parent (by 1950s standards, a father can apparently be considered Involved even while out of state), though I would recommend selectively cropping photos that include Mom's Friend Uncle Bob and the ones in which the milkman has his feet propped up on the coffee table.

Now that we know what we've done to mess our kids up in the head, let's address some of the consequences, such as bed-wetting.  Bed-wetting, Dr. Spock explains, is the parents' fault for a variety of reasons.  You might be providing an unstable environment, which is causing your child's unconscious subconscious to become incontinent (stop me if you find all this Medical Terminology to be too confusing).  In boys, bed-wetting is most often caused by insecurity, a domineering, impatient mother, and a father who ignores him.  In girls, it's most often caused by an inappropriate romantic love for her father and a need for psychiatric help.
I know you think I'm making this up, but it's right there on page 506 - I'm looking at it right now!
In any case, according to Dr. Spock, your best bet to get the bed-wetting to stop is to shape up and stop sucking at parenthood so much (I'm paraphrasing that part, but that's the gist).

Six to Eleven year olds are unable to control themselves
or their kleptomania.
After the bed-wetting stage, Dr. Spock explains there's a period between ages 6-11 when your main Parenting Problems are going to be comic books and stealing.  Luckily for you, your primary job during these years is just keeping your child out of prison.

In the event that you avoid warping your children into mass murderers before they reach puberty (unlikely), you'll have to give them The Talk.  You know, The Talk.   This is probably the biggest Parenting Problem of all, and once again it's up to the mother to hitch up her apron and take care of business, explaining how the Stork gets into the hospital delivery room and whatnot (the correct answer is: through the window ).  Right off the bat make sure to tell your daughter about The Curse; she'll be thrilled to hear that Leading Authorities on the subject are nearly convinced that "most girls and women can live perfectly normal lives" while Having Their Monthly Time (p 377).  The rest of us will be locked up in Menstruation Camps with hot water bottles perched on our abdomens, while we somehow manage to also stand at the sink and wash dishes.  With your son, on the other hand, you'll want to concentrate on setting a "sensible limit" on how many times per day he can - ahem - Explore his Puberty Experience, since it's "not harmful if [the episodes] don't happen too often" (p 378).  The father (or milkman - whoever's available) may want to teach the boy how to shave his palms.

That pretty much brings us right up to the time when Car Dating begins, and the subsequent Shotgun Wedding is celebrated!  By this point in parenting, it's safe to fully dedicate yourself to your budding wine box addiction and encourage your husband to remain out of state for a while longer so you can have the house to yourself FOR ONCE.  Maybe you can treat yourself to a night out on the town, so you'll have an excuse to wear all those Postpartum Depression dresses you bought.  You've earned it.
Please find it in your heart to click below to vote for me,
even though I just made you read a post that mentioned 1950s puberty!
At least I didn't use the phrase "belted sanitary napkin," right?  Right???
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Stacey said...

This book must have given many a 50's mother comfort, knowing that no matter what they did, it was ALL THEIR FAULT.

Also? "Exlporing his puberty experience" is the best phrase ever.

RobynHTV said...

@Tumbleweed believe me, word choice was key, there. I'm a lot more blunt in real life. ;)

RobynHTV said...

@Tumbleweed believe me, word choice was key, there. I'm a lot more blunt in real life. ;)

Vanessa said...

Robyn, you crack me up. I know I had this book when my first was born but apparently the 90's version was revised a little?

I've got to tell you if my copy of Spock had suggested a badminton net to keep them in their crib I would have been off to the Hardware Store to buy one right after the first night I put the little angel back to bed 20 gagillion times.

terri said...

My mother apparently used this book. I had never looked at it before so thanks for enlightening me.I'm happy to be able to explain to my husband the reason for my neurotic behavior.

RobynHTV said...

@Vanessa I was all over the badminton thing, too! I framed that page in the book and hung it in the nursery, just in case Child Protective Services stops by.

RobynHTV said...

@terri, if your husband's like mine, he'll be grateful for any reasoning he can get for the neurosis. ;)

LOVE MELISSA:) said...

I go with deranged guru-lol!

RobynHTV said...

@Melissa, I'm with you! ;)

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