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Book Review: How Not to Calm a Child on a Plane

Book Review: How Not to Calm a Child on a Plane

We’ve all been there.

You’ve either been the mom with the screaming child on the packed three hour flight, or you’ve sat in the row in front of her.

You’ve been the childless 20-something rolling your eyes and digging out your headphones in an attempt to stifle the sound while quietly judging and thinking “ohmygod my child WILL NEVER act that way.” Or you’ve been the mom cringing and whispering apologies to your neighbors while trying to cage in the raging animal that used to be your adorable baby...”I’m so sorry, it’s her first plane ride...she’s never...I mean...I’m so sorry.”

So, let me introduce the world’s most relatable book, How Not To Calm A Child on A Plane: And Other Lessons in Parenting from a Highly Questionable Source.

I liked Johanna Stein from the very first page, in which she coins the term “CWC”: Chubby With Cause (i.e. the best acronym for pregnancy I’ve ever come across). From this page on she relays hilarious stories from her life as a mother with smooth little bits of advice tucked in between the lines. Her story telling is hilarious, but also very scientific with charts and graphs showing time-proven facts such as this:


She follows this informative graph with a section entitled “Ideas for Reanimating the Corpse That Was Once Your Sex Life.” Now I’m not going to give away all of her secret moves here—you’ll have to read the book yourself—but let me tell you this: I laughed until I cried, and then I took notes. “All it takes,” she says, “is the motivation, a little imagination, and some judicious time management (as well as a collection of wigs, a high-speed blender…)”

Notes, people, take notes.

Relatable, ya? But now let’s loop our friend the childless 20-something back in (because she hasn’t figured out the secret baby:sex ratio yet, and you know she was thinking that whole time “Me? Never.”)

Let’s quickly set the scene: we’re in the airport. Que every traveling mother’s nightmare:

“We are about to board a Florida-bound plane to visit my mother-in-law.

But the toddler is losing her shit…

She is yelling at the top of her lungs, ‘NO AY-PWAY! NO AY-PWAYYYYY!’ as we board the aircraft and take refuge in our seats.”

She continues.

“People file past us, with varying looks of pity and horror but mostly relief that they’re not sitting next to the kid who’s screaming like a mongoose that’s been stabbed with a rusty steak knife.

At this point the husband and I do the only thing we can do: we turn to each other. He glares at me and I glare back, and exchange that every parent recognizes as the ‘I WILL DIVORCE YOU IN THE NEXT FOUR SECONDS UNLESS YOU FIX THIS’ glare.”

Which brings us full circle. Because if you haven’t gotten the glare, you’ve certainly given it.

Stein’s clever book may not hold all of the answers to the big parenting questions that keep us up at night; but it is a true testament to the fact that we as parents are trying our best. Sometimes things go our way. Sometimes they don’t. But if we can laugh at ourselves and let go of the reigns a bit, we may all be a bit better off.

If we could get all of the childless 20-somethings to read this book, there would be a lot less eye rolling when our little is throwing a tantrum in the checkout line in Target, or when we board a plane with them flipped upside-down over our shoulder, with their heads spinning around like a scene straight from The Exorcist.

And moms, this is a great book to keep on hand for the days you wonder this can’t just be me, right? You’ll laugh. You’ll cry. You’ll take notes.

Pick up Johanna Stein’s book today!

***


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