Thursday, July 11, 2013

Book Review - The Honest Toddler, Bunmi Laditan

The Honest Toddler: A Child’s Guide to Parenting


Bunmi Laditan

Category: “Parenting”

Synopsis: A treatise on parenting from the toddler’s point of view.

Date finished: 19 June 2013

Rating: ****½

If you’re unfamiliar with The Honest Toddler blog, you should probably stop reading this review now, go there, read one or two (or all) of the entries, and come back. I’ll wait.

See there. Hilarious, no? You’re welcome.

The book is no different. The best part about the book, however—aside from its hilarity—is that it isn’t just blog entries bound in book form like so many blog books are. No, it’s a whole parenting guide with sections and subsections and lots of new material. Some of the entries appear, but I don’t remember anything appearing in its original blog form. So kudos to the author!

Which brings me to this: I was sort of disappointed to have the name and a picture of the author. Nowhere on the blog was the author’s identity divulged (though a Google search would reveal it). Intellectually, of course, we all knew that Honest Toddler (HT) didn’t write the book or the blog, but it was a fun delusion. The point of view was so original and spot-on. I actually enjoyed NOT knowing who was behind the entries. While waiting for the book to be released, I kept trying to figure out ways for the anonymity to be maintained. But alas, book publishers are interested in sales and profit and a book won’t sell without a face and, presumably, a book tour.
Also, I was surprised (perhaps disappointed?) to discover that the Honest Toddler is a girl. I’d always pictured HT as a boy.

But all this aside, I was not dissatisfied with the book at all. At times I think I was slightly bored, the way you might get bored if a standup comic’s routine had gone on too long. I think I hit cute/sarcasm overload a few times.

My review really doesn’t do it justice, so I’ll give you some favorite passages for an idea of what HT has to say about parenting, and how you’re screwing it up:

On Sharing:
Even though it sounds ridiculous, many adults believe that because children don’t have formal employment, all their possessions must be nonproprietary…. Seventy percent of all toddler-on-toddler violence comes from sharing…. Sharing is a socially accepted form of theft and needs to be abolished…. If a strange women or man knocked on your door and asked to borrow your vehicle, how would you feel? (page 14)

On Risk-taking:
The only time a toddler can be injured is when a parent views the accident. The gaze of a parent is like kryptonite and immediately weakens the child. (page 19)

On Grandparents (who KNOW how to parent):
Make it your new goal to love not like a parent but like a grandparent. (page 45)

On Vegetables:
Ninety-nine percent of vegetables are not fit for human consumption. The other 1 percent is ketchup. (page 55)

Broccoli is a gateway drug to cauliflower. (page 55)

[Eggplant] tastes like frustration. (page 56)

When I see a pea lift anything over its head or an orange bell pepper break a cement block, I will believe that vegetables can impart strength. They’re not even powerful enough to taste good. (page 225)

On Brown Rice:
This food looks like a rough draft. (page 62)

On Band-Aids:
A toddler who walks out of the house wearing no Band-Aids hasn’t been anywhere or seen anything. (page 109)

On babysitters:
I find it amazing that parents won’t leave their cars unlocked in an underground garage but will hire babysitters. (page 215)

The author brilliantly brings to light the hypocrisy of parents, the egocentric worldview of the toddler, and the nuances of the life of the child with few words but many ideas. If you have a toddler or have ever known one, I think you’ll be delighted with this read.

Would you recommend this to a friend?

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