Lesson 14: Ask for Help When You're Sick So Your Friends Will Mail You Pity Drugs

Today I'm incredibly sick with what I assume is testicular cancer (according to WebMD). When I was a new mother and I was throwing up, or exhausted, or my kid had contagious polio, I was always afraid to ask for help because I thought it was a sign of weakness, but now I realize that asking for help is the only way to survive as a parent. As Hillary Clinton once said ...

"It takes a village to keep you from abandoning your child at a shopping mall when you realize that he’s given everyone in your house lice again." (Paraphrased.) And that's why today I'm asking for help from my brilliantly witty friend, Alice, who just co-wrote a book about babies with laser-beam eyes (true story).


So instead of having to write a whole column, I can just interview her and use all this extra time vomiting. Yay! Plus I'll have an additional scape-goat for you to yell at when you skip the part at the top pointing out that this column is called "Ill-Advised" for a reason. Let's begin, shall we?


Alice, you glorious, glowing Julie Andrews of the mommy set, what exactly makes you qualified to give out advice about babies?

Well! 1) I HAD one, and he's still here and just today we got his report card and it just had GENIUS scrawled across the entire card, like they didn't even bother filling out the categories, is how smart he is. 2) I have a master's degree ... in writing!

Baby: check. Writing-know-how: check. Who else but me?

Eden has a degree in something, too. I can't remember what. Associate's degree in penmanship? PhD in etiquette? Maybe both. Her thank-you notes would move you to tears and/or drinking.


Fair enough. Do you think it's weird that when you go out drinking with hot, underage minors, people judge you, but when you go out drinking with your own underage children people think it's totally fine? Also, is it less questionable if the underage minors aren't hot?

Jenny, I live in "Park Slope, Brooklyn," otherwise known as "The place where half the population brings their underage children who are often strapped into strollers into bars with them, and the other half hates the first half with a burning seething rage." It's a really long slogan. You should see our billboards.

Seriously, you're asking the wrong person, because I haven't met an underage minor who I didn't think was hot. Is that okay to say? It's just an aesthetic appreciation, is all. I'm going to change the subject now. I just threw confetti and cash all over the place! Everyone pick out the dollar bills while I run!


Nicely done.  Who would make a better babysitter ... wolves or bears?  (You must choose one. Show your work.)

I'm going to go wolves on this one. It's a gut response, probably because I'm reading Bill Bryson's A Walk in the Woods, and I'm on the part where he talks about bear attacks. Not on each other, you understand -- on us. To us? At us. I can't worry about grammar when there are bears to consider!

Plus, what kind of bear? You've got the grizzlies who can't climb trees but are gratuitously vicious, and the black bears who are a little less bloodthirsty but climb trees like it's their JOB, and what if you can't remember which one you hired to babysit for you, what are you going to tell your baby then? Climb a tree? Don't climb a tree? Play dead, or play alive? It's going to be really difficult to enjoy your night out when you're wondering if your bear-sitter is suddenly going to get all territorial and/or snacky.

Besides, wolves are pack animals. You just rub your baby all over the wolf's fur, and he/she is part of the wolf pack! I don't even know why we're talking about this.


Wow. Me either. Do you smell that?

Even if I did, and I am NOT SAYING THAT I DID, I was raised to believe it was impolite to say so. I always wear a hankie over my face like a delicate, lacy mask.

Have you let a wolf in here any time recently?


Not recently. When Hailey was born, Victor's grandad said that cats eat babies and he said that he was going to come over and slit our cats' throats and throw them in the garbage. This is all true. We shut the cats up with the baby whenever he was in the neighborhood just to keep them all safe but none of the cats ever even tried to eat the baby. Is Victor's grampa crazy or is there something wrong with my baby?

I contracted a case of the shivers, reading this. Real shivers, all over my body, especially in the shoulder range!

You, my friend, got lucky. First of all, you're fortunate to have such a wise old man in your family. Second, you were crazy-lucky that your cats' natural baby-wrecking instincts were clearly blunted in some way. I'm betting you rubbed your baby all over a wolf already -- it seems like the sort of thing you'd do -- and the cat knew that if he/she/it so much as sunk one single fang into a plump baby thigh, there was going to be serious She-Wolf trouble down the line. Cats are horrible, dangerous creatures one should never keep anywhere near children -- we talk about this extensively in the book, which I know you've read. But if there's one thing they're scared of (other than not-you) it's wolves. Also, old men. So let Victor's Grampa back in. Is he still waiting on your porch? I'm assuming he's waiting, and that you have a porch.

I bet you have a porch.


I totally have a porch. Stalker. What's the best trick you've ever learned for dealing with children/other parents/werewolves (pick one)?

I have to pick one? I don't want to pick one. I have so many tricks. My sleeves are packed full and I can barely move my arms! Every time I give someone a high five or wipe sweat off my brow, tricks fall out all over the place! And everyone's all, "Tricks?! Will you share them with us?" And I say no, of course, because boundaries, and then they whine and carry on and suddenly there are broken bottles aimed at my delicate face region and that's when I call in the wolves.

Here are but a few from my Sleeves-of-Tricks™:

Children: To keep them smelling fresh as they grow up and out of their naturally sweet-smelling infant-state, give them a thorough, daily rubdown with a spare baby.

Other parents: If another parent decides to one-up you on what an awesome parent he/she/they is/are, gaily cry out, "You know everything and I know nothing!" Then, as they/we/me are trying to decipher your tone, give 'em the ol' roundhouse* to the ol' breadbasket*. Now flee! Don't forget to grab your kid first!

*note: not sure what these terms mean

Werewolves: There's no doubt we should all have a healthy respect for all wolves, were- or no, but simple common sense should keep the vast majority of us somewhat safe. As long as we avoid wandering Central European forests in the dead of night, and maintain our daily supplementation with rye and/or wolfsbane. Then we have nothing to fear, mostly. I actually don't have any werewolf tricks. I'll tell you right now, though, that silver-bullet nonsense is just that. Don't even try it. How do you think I lost this leg?

(I was born with an extra leg.)


What's the best thing about being a parent?

When your kid grows up and wins an Academy Award and he ends his acceptance speech with, "Thanks, Mom," and you're in the audience and you look super-hot, but really, it's not about you, it's about your kid, but you know what? You do really look amazing.


And what's the worst thing about being a parent?

When your kid grows up and ends up in criminal court, charged with Excessive Cruelty to Woodland Creatures, and when he's asked if he has anything to say for himself, he's all, "Thanks, Mom," and everyone turns and glares at you but they can't really get too mad because even the judge has to admit you look super-hot for your age. But why are you wearing an evening gown to court?


Can you hold my hair for me while I throw up?

Well ... I'm ... okay, yes. Of course I will. For you, Jenny, I will cup my hands to form a vessel, and turn my head to give you some privacy. Let it all out. Aim into the ... no, not the ... into the hands! There you go. Now I will go hose myself down and then get you ginger ale. With the crushed ice, like you like.


Thanks, bunny-face.  In an epic battle for world domination between zombies and unicorns, who would win?

Unicorns. Because if you ask me any question pitting zombies against unicorns, I'm always going to vote unicorns. I don't need a reason, do I? You didn't specifically ask for a reason.


What's the one question I totally should have asked here?

You should have asked me, "Who would be more likely to shove your spine and innards into a blender to make a hideous flesh-margarita -- zombies or unicorns?" Because then I would have to say "zombies," and you would have proven me to be a liar! That's what we call journalism.


Fine. Insert that question here.

Wait, I just ... I did it, up there. I'm so ... what? Where am I? Oh. Okay. I see what you did. Okay. Way to throw me off balance, Ms. Lawson. Way to show me what journalism really is. Touché.


A special thank you to Alice for helping me write my column today. If you enjoyed this interview you should probably go buy Bunny-Face and Fussy’s new book LET’S PANIC ABOUT BABIES. I would insert a picture of it right here except I can’t stop throwing up.


PS. I was not compensated for this review. Neither was Bunny-Face. We're just as poor as ever. And this is exactly why no one wants to grow up to be a writer.

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