The Back to School Posts we love to hate

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This is the time of year when all THOSE back to school posts start cropping up. You know the ones, the ones where the parents are gleeful, jumping around, almost hysterical with joy that their beloved offspring will now be carted off to industrialized education for 8-10 hours per day, leaving them free to live their lives? Those posts. And, as a proper homeschooling mom with my requisite three wild, un-civilized, and completely un-schooled children, I have to kind of hate those posts. What, you hate your own babies that much? You’re that uncomfortable in their company? But, you know, there is an up-side to those posts, albeit sort of a small one. The secret is this:

All those little darlings will now be off locked in their industrialized educational establishments, leaving the rest of the wide world open and uncluttered for me and my feral offspring to wander around and pillage as we wish.

I am not sure that the world is getting a better bargain this way. The world would be better off with lots more industrious wild children, starting small businesses and getting into mischief, learning things in the real world and becoming useful citizens long before the System has decided that they are allowed to do so. But, hey, I didn’t make the system.

We are decidedly out of place in the real world, and as August turns to September, people begin to Get Suspicious. At first, we may just be charter school people, starting a bit later than everyone else. They’re willing to cut us a little slack when we suddenly appear at all the local attractions, brand-new season passes in hand, looking a little shady in our ratty t-shirts and shorts combos. But past Labor Day, all bets are off– we are immediately on the watch list. People begin to Ask Questions.

The first one, as they dubiously eye my very robust pack of blonde sons, is “Are you all home sick today?” My sons, being of a sardonic turn of mind, just give them dubious looks in return. They may ask each other, with an excess of glee, whether or not their brother is sick, and if it’s just “in the head.” Sometimes, when the inevitable winter sniffles are in play, we can get a pass just on this question, as the 3 year old turns a green-boogered nose their way and they draw away in horror. It’s a terrific defense mechanism, if somewhat disgusting. I don’t let him do it on purpose, I’ve just never found the secret of staying ahead of a toddler’s runny nose. It always drips faster than any Kleenex can stem.

If initial countermeasures are ignored, the people may begin to notice other Disturbing Signs of Nonconformity. Wait, that kid with the blonde hair all the way down their back? Is that a . . . boy? It doesn’t look very girlish. I’ve never seen a girl in a Minecraft t-shirt with knees that skinned-up. It may be a boy. Wait, are boys allowed to have hair that long? Not in Texas, they’re not! Something is definitely wrong. And that muscular one, the one with the defiant glint in his eye, his attitude is not beaten-down in the least. He definitely has never had to stand in a line or ask permission to go to the bathroom. These are not children enrolled in school! I saw them here at the grocery store just the other day, hanging on the edge of the grocery cart and buying suspicious vegetables and herbs. They may even be hippies.

But, no, the mom isn’t much of a hippie. Too scary looking, tall, and with too much eyeliner. Some kind of Satanists, no doubt.

But we merrily go on our way, haunting the aisles of Target and Hobby Lobby, shuffling through Home Depot for supplies for yet another project, grocery shopping in an unending loop, making trips to the parks and zoo and restaurants and wherever else we find ourselves wandering. And talking, talking, talking the whole time. That’s the secret of learning– conversation. No, not just the fierce “You’re a (insert mild cuss word)” that you hear from the backseat when you’re driving and they don’t think you’re paying attention because Rage Against the Machine is playing too loudly. Real conversations, about the vegetables you’re buying, the meals we’ll be cooking, the history of the area, the machines and inventions we are passing, idle thoughts that have developed into pressing questions, and arguments about the virtues of video games. (Let’s be honest here, it’s 2017 and video gaming is king of all attractions. We limit it but it’s always THERE in their heads.)

This year, I am really looking forward to it. The baby is, well, not very much of a baby anymore. He’s 3, and filled with questions of his own, besides being the same physical size of your average kindergartner. He’s easier to transport, can get himself into his car seat, and can walk for longer stretches of time now. The other two are capable of doing many things for themselves, and can help out with many tasks, too.

As soon as the weather breaks . . . that’s my mantra right now. As soon as the daytime highs are in the low-90s and the nights drop down below 70, into that dreamy 60 degree territory that gives us at least a couple of hours of coolness in the morning before the heat really sets in– then, ahh, the havoc we will wreak. The places we will go, the things we shall do– hiking, biking, bird-watching, fishing, taming the Hellhound, gardening, exploring, drawing everything we see, learning to paint watercolors, and having grand adventures in state and national parks. Plus cooking a bunch of brand-new recipes to replace all the boring ones we’ve been stuck with for so long. And baking! Once the heat isn’t so awful, we can actually use our oven again! And afternoon teas, served with homemade treats. Sucking down Darjeeling with the boys, yeah, that’s my idea of a good time.

And so many books, books all the time. Books about history and art and music and philosophy and religion and literature of all sorts. Books on tape and books read curled-up next to the sofa, snug on the cowhide rug (which has become something of a pet for them, weirdly.) Books for the baby, with glorious pictures of real things, and books for the boys with big glorious ideas and stories that break your heart.

Gosh, I feel so sorry for those parents who are shuffling their kids off to “real” schools. You don’t know what you’re missing. Sure, there’s some bickering and the occasional day where everyone is vomiting and miserable, but everyone has those. We also get the glory of tramping around in the snow, whatever brief time it may appear, without worrying about missing the school bus. Or reading “Alice in Wonderland” while we bounce on the trampoline– a more appropriate place cannot be found. Baking muffins at noon because we want to have some at teatime, getting in the truck and going off to wander through the Halloween costume aisles of different stores because we really love that crap, spending a morning with some questionable science experiment that is a complete disaster but they had great fun anyway making a huge mess (although not as much in cleaning it up.)

And maybe, because I don’t have a “real” career anymore, we can’t afford all the things we’d like to have, like new cars and lots of fancy clothes and a skiing trip to Vail, but I do have these brief precious years with my children. And, I will tell you, as a woman whose body has already thrown up cancer in her face once, that’s infinitely more valuable than any new car could ever be. So I drive a 14 year old Suburban that has seen better days, and my wardrobe is becoming more and more homemade as I learn to sew, but . . . I have this, this amazing journey to go on. I wish more of you would make it with your children. It’s not perfectly easy, and you have to think for yourself, but just imagine . . . imagine the possibilities.

 

 

 

New Book Release!

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Available now on Kindle and Kindle Unlimited! “Momma Sang: Finding my Mother in her own words” is a collection of my mother’s short stories and articles which she wrote in her late 20’s. My mother, Theresa Melody Carter, passed away in 1990 from complications of leukemia, the same disease that took her own mother’s life thirty years before. These stories were written for her college literary magazine and newspaper, and they open the door on the mysteries of a mother that I lost much too soon. I’ve written a brief introduction for each of the 11 stories, but the real lyrical beauty is in my mother’s own words. Her descriptions of life in rural Arizona in the 1960s are like a glimpse into a lost world, a world of rattlesnakes and wild horses, faithful hound dogs and devastating losses. It’s a world where Waylon Jennings was just an unknown disc jockey in a nowhere Arizona town, and a red-headed Okie gal chopped cotton, tended bar, and sang songs to her children.

15% of the proceeds from this book will be donated to research to cure rare diseases.

Life Won’t Wait

In addition to being the title of a favorite punk cd of mine, “Life Won’t Wait” by Rancid, (“Black Lung ” and “Crane Fist” being my two favorite songs thereof,) “Life Won’t Wait” is a pretty good motto for reality as it exists. No matter how much we may wish that we could put life on pause at times, it just keeps roaring past us. And like people trapped on foot in the middle of a freeway, it’s disorienting, terrifying, and sometimes lethal.

I feel like I’ve been in the middle of that freeway since the beginning of the year. These recurrent bouts of illness are messing with my plans in a big way– every few weeks, I am just DOWN. As in, I can barely force myself out of bed long enough to do the things I absolutely must do, and every moment is spent in agonizing pain. A week of medication usually beats it back into its hiding place, but it will be back. Sometimes within a couple weeks, sometimes in a couple months. Maddening.

In between, man, I can get some stuff done. Got my novel finally edited and published, started serious work on two other projects, read through a huge chunk of the world’s greatest literature, redecorated and renovated a big part of our home, sewed multiple outfits, put in two complete gardens started from seed, took the family on a major vacation, and homeschooled the kids.

Then I get sick and everything grinds to a halt for another week.

But life just doesn’t pause itself while I’m ill. This week, I am trying to help my son finish up his requirements to get into the college that he wants to go to, rushing here and there to get documentation and vaccinations and all kinds of stuff like that. Trying to get my handicapped daughter into a good day program now that she’s out of school and taking her to appointments. Trying to get a stupid broken filling fixed that I’ve been dealing with for two months now. And meanwhile, the weeds and the watermelon vines are taking over the garden, my herbs are a disaster, the kitchen is too dirty to cook in, the laundry is way behind, I have a half-finished dress still sitting with pins in it, and my closet looks like WWIII was fought inside it with Playmobil figurines.

It’s incredibly frustrating, especially as our whole lives are about to change dramatically. Two of our adult kids are going to be going to school, and at least one of them will be moving out of the house. Maybe two. We’ve got to do some more major renovations to the house, on very little budget, in order to make it ready to sell. We simply don’t need this particular kind of house anymore, the two-story five-bedroom and three-bath kind. The little boys quite happily share a single room (especially now after the renovation and the new loft bed addition.) Miss Autism needs her own room, but that only leaves us needing a three bedroom place. And downsizing to a smaller house could save us some money, so we could, you know, save money. That’s something families with 7 kids don’t usually get to do very often.

But life blazed on past and now four of our seven children are actually adults. One of those will never be independent, of course, but the other three are off on their own adventures. With a little more money, we could afford to hire a part-time caretaker for Miss Autism, which would give us a little more freedom to travel and camp. The little boys are growing up quickly, so we want to pack as much living into these next ten years as we can.

Life isn’t waiting. But I feel like I’m kind of trapped anyway. My bloodwork didn’t come back too good last time– I’d go so far as to say that my numbers went about as far in the opposite direction as they could have gone. So we’re trying a medication change, upping the dosage of my thyroid meds, to see if we can drive those numbers back down again. And, meanwhile, I wait. And take my pills and try to sneak in some of my iron tablets when they won’t interfere with the thyroid meds, because my anemia is back in force. It doesn’t make you too confident in your body, you know, when something else is going wrong every time you turn around.

But life isn’t waiting. And neither am I. I will get these things done, by hook or by crook. Even if I have to attack the watermelon vine with a machete and slosh a gallon of bleach all over the kitchen floor. And I’ll get other things done, too– I want to make a craft with the boys, I want to start exercising more, I want to try cooking some new meals because the old ones have grown so boring that no one wants to eat them anymore. The kids need their schoolwork restarted for fall and new books bought and studied. And I WILL do these things.

But, just in case it’s as difficult as I fear it will be, put in a good word with the guy upstairs, okay? Maybe for a little bit of grace, a little bit of healing, and a whole lot of faith. Because faith in God is the ultimate, and the necessary, but you’ve also got to have faith that you can actually DO the things that you’re asking to do. What good is it to ask for favors you don’t feel you can live up to? I just want to Do the Things.

In and of themselves, they’re probably not too important. My kids will certainly not die for a lack of a Victoria sponge cake to celebrate Sunday dinner. My marriage will undoubtedly survive even if our wedding anniversary is the same disaster it’s been for the past 25 years in an unbroken stretch of failures and random weirdnesses. My husband is a good man who will not mind overly much if we just buy him some boring present for his birthday and not, say, tickets to Aruba.

Life won’t wait. We’re all going to die sooner than we’d like. I just want to feel like I tried to make it count. Like it counted for something. Like I tried.

 

 

Summer homeschooling plans!

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Yeah, basically that’s what’s happened to my summer homeschooling plans. After struggling mightily for the first couple of weeks, I just gave up and decided that I had bigger fish to fry. They’re not going to actually have their brains rot from watching too many television shows, at least not for a two month period. This isn’t “A Clockwork Orange.” So I’m focusing on other things for now.

Like my vague plans to go minimalist. I went into the kitchen tonight and looked at all the pots and pans and said, out loud, “I hate you. I loathe you. What the hell are you doing in my kitchen?”

The pots and pans, being inanimate objects, had no reply to this.

But I am convinced that people would wash the pots and pans more often if there were fewer pots and pans. And, really, what the heck is with that entire drawer filled with tupperware lids that fit nothing? And all my organization went to heck. And forget the baking dishes, they’re such a disaster that I’ve given up even trying to make zucchini bread, which is usually a summer staple around here. There’s just way too much clutter falling out of the cabinets whenever I open them.

So, not this week, but the week after that, I plan on going on a major decluttering of the kitchen. Some of the gear can go back into our travel trailer to use while camping. Some of it can go to the Salvation Army or Caritas. And the rest can go rot in a dump heap for all I care. Can opener, I am looking at you.

I am pretty sure that there will be objections to this plan, and I personally have NO intention of throwing away my cute cake pans, because those are mine and they make me happy. But, really, a huge steamer pan to make bad tamales once a year? I can buy better tamales from somebody’s grandma and save the shelf space at the same time. Lids to pans we don’t even own? What the what?

I am excited about this plan. Not so excited about washing out the insides of the cabinets, but it’s a necessary evil. But not today. Sufficient unto the day are the evils thereof, or something, and I’m hip deep in alligators as it is, to mix a few metaphors.

Man, it is hot outside and miserable.

Hey, buy my book about monks riding war dragons and have a nice summer read, eh? and leave a nice review on Amazon or Goodreads! I will love you for it.

Summertime Fun in Texas

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Summertime in Texas is, quite honestly, too nasty and hot to do much of anything outdoors.

Oh, we’ve tried. Horseback riding, swimming, going to the park, going to the zoo, taking trips down to the Gulf Coast, even a memorably hot trip to San Antonio in August, where we did a whirlwind tour of the beautiful historic missions, as well as trolling through the Riverwalk and the Witte Museum of Natural History (which is a great museum, by the way, and free on Tuesdays.)

But, man, it’s just impossible. Especially this week, where a high pressure system has decided to sit right on the central United States, turning even the early morning hours into intense misery.

That hasn’t stopped me from trying to do things– I got a new garden bed dug, installed the bricks, and filled it with plants, transplanted all the new seedlings for the late summer garden, and planted more flowers out front. But I basically came back into the house on the verge of heat exhaustion every time.

The kids, of course, are overdosing on media of all sorts– one of them is addicted to “Breath of the Wild,” one of them is hooked on YouTube how-to tutorials about weird things like making cotton candy, the baby has a series of bizarre demands for Netflix shows that no one can quite decipher (“the one with the baby bus who talks and not the one with songs and not the one with trains” is an example,) and the other one is in an “Overwatch” coma. And then Miss Autism steals the WiiU as often as she can to play Super Mario 64. She’s old school.

Me, I’m keeping myself as busy as possible. Sewing projects are eating up a huge portion of my time, and writing projects are devouring the rest. It keeps me from obsessing over the sales reports on my book, anyway (which is not making me a millionaire, let’s just say.) I am currently fighting a pitched battle against the combined forces of Microsoft Word and Adobe Acrobat, both of whom want to take a simple scan-to-text conversion and make it as improbable as possible.

But, I have Big Plans for the next couple of weeks. I like having big plans. I just don’t necessarily like having to drop big money on said big plans. But this is very big money for one of my Summer Obsessions, and the other people in the house are trembling with fear and anticipation. What will I make them do next? What extremes of physical toil will I expect from them? And, most importantly, is this going to cut into their internet time?

Ah well. I should sleep. Not that I’m looking forward to it– last night, I had a dream that a snake had bitten deeply into my ring finger, only to wake up with my finger in excruciating pain. Half-asleep, I yanked my wedding ring off and just left it under my pillow. Thankfully, no one ate it, dropped it in the trash, or washed it down a drain, because I didn’t remember the dream (and realize my ring was missing) until around 3pm in the afternoon. Oops. Yeah, I need more sleep.

Score at the bookstore

I just KNEW that they couldn’t possibly be out of copies of “Catch-22” at our local used book store. And, being that the novel was originally printed in 1955, and the author is dead, I didn’t feel compelled to pay for a brand-new copy of it, either.

But, after a grueling search for the Heller section, I finally found it . . . stuffed in with the general fiction, which put him somewhere between “Never Let Me Go” and anything by Nicholas Sparks. Which was odd, but whatever. I’d have figured it for the “classics” section, myself.

I also scored on a bunch of guilty pleasure books from the 5 cent table. Sometimes, you just can’t face the next classic piece of literature and have to escape the quest to discover the Great American Novel (hint: it doesn’t exist). So I have a Barbara Hambly novel that I somehow missed, one of the Superintendent Dalziel books, and, yes, a Betty Neels romance novel, just because.

Oh, yes, and I also bought the Theban plays by Sophocles, “Hunger” by Knut Hamsun, one of St John of the Cross’s books, and a bunch of books about boys and horses for the homeschooling shelves.

It socked me for a bunch of my store credit, but I am content. I’m running out of those Top 100 novels fast, so I will be forced to finish the two remaining James Joyce novels before long. I will need every simple piece of storytelling that I can find just to keep my grip on sanity. Or, at least, on my temper. I may have developed a fondness for Henry James that I would never have suspected I’d have, but Joyce? Nah, I am never going to love his work.

Oh, and another hint about literature: when a reviewer uses the term “pyrotechnics” to describe someone’s writing style, they are 100% full of nonsense. Beware!! 🙂

My Novel is now available for Pre-Order!

My first novel, Dragon Venom, is now available for pre-order on the Amazon website! If you’ve got a taste for adventurous fantasy novels, and a Kindle app, pre-order it today! 🙂

 

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Dragon Venom is a fantasy novel, filled with seafaring battles, steamy dragon-haunted jungles, and warrior monks fighting for their faith and for their lives. It’s the story of Raban, a young craftsman monk, who is forced to become something more on a quest to reclaim the lost treasures of a vanished empire. Under the leadership of their Knight Vigilant, Alarin, Raban and the rest of his order will test the bonds of brotherhood, faith, and humanity in their search for Paisadal, and their dangerous hunt for the forbidden lore of dragons.

 

Pre-order it now on Amazon!

Overwhelmed

Life, as i have stated many times, has a lot of periods of time where you just have to suck it up and live through it.  Sometimes those awful periods of suffering can have inspiring grace notes, and sometimes they’re unrelieved by anything nice. This past month has had a few good moments, I won’t lie, but it’s mostly been a tedious trudge through Everything Going Completely Wrong most of the time.

Case in point, we bought a new clothes dryer last week, to replace the dryer that we’d repaired and babied along for many years. It wasn’t an expensive model, but it was new, and the other one hadn’t actually been working to dry clothes in months. Annnnd . . . the new dryer wouldn’t dry clothes, either. My husband made sure the vent system was all cleaned out, put a new 90 degree elbow on the vent to make sure the air flowed well and . . . nope, it still wouldn’t dry clothes. So it went back to Lowes today (thankfully they have a MUCH better return policy than Home Depot) and we now have another new dryer in its place. Let’s just hope this one WORKS.

When even the good things in life, like new appliances, refuse to work out, you know it’s a bad month.

The worst part was our long-anticipated, long-planned-for, much-needed vacation to Walt Disney World. It contained epic levels of dreadfulness. When we left for the vacation, WDW was warning us that Florida was in a terrible drought and they’d banned all campfires and charcoal grills to ensure that no one set the forest on fire at their campground. On our first day at the parks, it began to pour. POUR. And it poured the entire week. Our entire vacation was an Odyssey of soggy socks, waterlogged skin, and misery. My husband broke out in an attack of shingles to the head and face. Our travel trailer blew 3 tires. Our Suburban started suddenly dying mid-traffic, with some narrow escapes from serious accidents included. There was vomiting, sunburns, injuries galore, bruises by the score, and much suffering. The wet laundry grew mold and turned into a toxic fume fest. It was SO SO BAD.

Things haven’t exactly looked up since we got home, alas. The other truck decided to suddenly shed several wheel bearings mid-journey. Everyone caught a dreadful cold that is still lingering in nasty coughs and raw noses.  Summertime mood changes are in full swing in the “polarity challenged” people in the family. One of the darn mice is MIA somewhere in the nursery. We won’t even discuss the dog, who I have now renamed Hellhound. She deserves nothing less than her true name.

I am going through a lot of that “enduring” stuff, along with my poor family. BUT . . ..

We WILL get through this. Somehow. It just takes time. (and copious amounts of money that are sometimes hard to come by.) Shingles takes weeks to months to recuperate from. Just simple coughs from colds can take two weeks or more to go away. Vehicles break down– luckily my husband was an auto mechanic in another life and still does all our repairs.

Sometimes, all you can do is shake your head and say “Man, I’m just glad that I’m still alive.”

Those Top 100 novels, again

Slowly, slowly, slowly, I have carved my way through the Modern Library’s 100 Best Novels list. After working on this project for 9 years, I am only 14 titles away from finishing the list.

Granted, some of those “titles” are actually comprised of a series of books– Studs Lonigan is 3 books, as is de Passos’s U.S.A. series. A Dance to the Music of Time is, I think, 7 books. Eeep. But, as I just finished reading War and Peace and it only counts as one book, I suppose I can make allowances and just pretend that they’re really one novel.

I’m 86% finished, anyway. And, what’s more important, I am only missing a few books that I need to complete the whole list. I still need a copy of A Clockwork Orange, Catch-22, A Bend in the River, Book 1 of the aforementioned U.S.A. trilogy, and I don’t own a single one of those 7 books in that long series. Not a one. Sigh. Amazon wants a fortune for them, so I think I need to start trolling the other used book websites. I’m reading the James Joyce novels on Kindle, because I’d probably burn paper copies in a fit of frustration whenever that infamous glory-hound plays too cute (which is pretty much every chapter of each of his books, as far as I can tell.)

I am also just going to read Main Street on the Kindle app– it’s out of copyright, so why not? I never got the impression that it was a particularly difficult work (or even one that I’d choose to read if it wasn’t on the list.

I took a break over the past two weeks from the Top 100 books, simply because I felt sick after reading Koestler’s Darkness at Noon. Just something about the guy’s writing made me very disheartened and nauseated. Like that instant antipathy you sometimes feel when you meet someone, that uneasy feeling that there’s something wrong about them, that’s the lingering impression that novel left on me. Something was wrong with that dude. I’m sure it’s an important book and influenced a lot of people, but I wouldn’t pass it on to someone unless they asked.

Anyway, I took a break and read War and Peace. That took about 10 days to finish. Loved it, except for the historical commentary at the end. That part mostly confirmed what I suspected of Tolstoy– the guy took himself just a bit too seriously, and so did everyone else.

I also read Pride and Prejudice over the course of a lazy Sunday.  Oh my, why haven’t I read Jane Austen’s work before this? Well, obviously, because every woman reader I ran into always raved about her stuff. There’s nothing like universal acclaim to make me suspicious of a book’s merits. Quite often, the work just doesn’t live up to the hype. But that one was a lovely surprise, being a page-turner and a delight.

It also knocks a book off the next Reading Challenge that I’ve set for myself, reading the Library of World Literature’s 100 Best Books in World History list. I’ve slowly been collecting those books as I find them in the used book stores, using the credit I’ve accrued from trading in old books that I didn’t love anymore. Sometimes, even though a book may be out of copyright (and therefore available free online), I have just been buying a paper copy anyway. Reading on the computer or on my phone is a bit of a pain, and I just prefer the real paper copy in my hands. It’s hard to justify it for novels that I think I’m going to dislike anyway (such as anything by Joyce, comic as he may be), but for books that I suspect that I may love, I’d rather have the paper any day.

I have Anna Karenina to read, but I am going to hold off on it and give the previous Tolstoy some time to digest before I dip into his “other” masterwork. In the meantime, I still have those 14 books waiting for me. If I can find copies of those books that I’m missing, I think I can finish that darn list this year. Finally. I’m only, oh, 3 1/2 years off the pace that I set for myself.

I also have two Dostoyevsky books waiting for me. I’m saving those. My daughter says that I am basically just a Dostoyevsky fangirl. Which, yeah, pretty much sums it up.

Troll Parenting Books

Let’s be open and honest and forthright, my friends:

Most of the parenting books and articles that get printed these days are clickbait. Yes, even the paper ones.

The last “big” example of this was the horrible Tiger Mom debacle. That book, with its questionable-yet-endlessly-debatable parenting ‘technique,’ spawned an uncounted number of forum posts, fiery Facebook denunciations, and lots and lots of clicks to the websites of the newspapers and magazines that wrote about it. I’m not going to link to it because, frankly, we all have Google or Bing or whatever funky search engine you prefer.

The newest “controversial” parenting book is being touted in the Wall Street Journal, which has, over the years, abandoned any pretense of being an actual newspaper in search of advertising revenue. The “news” of this new book that’s being printed amounts to a very underwhelming advertisement for the book (I don’t think most of the people commenting on the article and video even realized that a book was being talked about) and probably a lovely boost to advertising revenue for the WSJ. The people were foaming at the mouth in indignation at the article, I’m sure the people at the newspaper were quite pleased. I doubt the author is pleased yet, as the Twitter account for the book only currently has 248 followers. If you really want to give them your click, just search for “parentspeak.”

“Parentspeak”– the word alone should tell you everything you need to know about this parenting book. It’s total nonsense, a complete troll. The author isn’t a renowned parenting expert, just yet another writer with a decade of parenting under her belt and a need to drive more cash into her pocket. And, of course, the “right” liberal qualifications–has written for NPR and HuffPo, wrote a memoir about sex, and had a failed pilot at ABC.Her husband is one of the original Geico cavemen (that this is the first of his acting gigs that he mentions pretty much sums up his career so far. I wish him more luck in the future.)

This new book basically says that all parent and child interactions are tainted by “control.” Parents are trying to control their children when they talk to them, and that’s BAD. She’s so bold as to attack the lauded term “good job!” Yes, even telling your child that they did a good job is insincere because we’re really subtly trying to control their behavior. The author somewhat confusingly follows this up with advising parents to use emotional guilt-tripping instead (I will paraphrase to avoid clicking the darn thing again, but this is VERY close to the original quote, I kid you not. “When you didn’t tell Sally ‘thank you’ for her gift, I was afraid you were making her feel bad.” Great. How about I go cut my wrists in the bathroom, Mom, since I am such a failure at emotional intelligence?)

Okay, you want to know the secret formula all these writers have? I am going to tell you, as long as you promise NEVER to use the formula yourself even if you do desperately want money and fame. It’s not worth it, trust me. Okay, here it is:

Go to scholar.google.com. Search for the general words in the topic you’re interested in, say “effects of emotional neglect on child development.” Click on one of the top two or three search results. They’re guaranteed to have some hoary old tropes from the 1930s to 1960s in there somewhere. Grab the most fantastical and ridiculous “scientific” study done in that time period, then start looking for data to back up that proposition. You don’t have to actually DO any research, trust me. If you have spawned a human being, you automatically get a pass on being a parenting writer. No one is going to come to your house and ask questions UNLESS you DO become famous, and then you can bully and bribe your kids into giving nice pat answers (ipads work well here, or vacations to Walt Disney World) and have someone stage your house for the photoshoot.  A quick trip to one of the thousands of makeup and hair experts in LA is called for as well, but she probably already covered that part.

There, you have it. Get someone to get you some coverage in one of the big media outlets like the WSJ or the Washington Post, maybe even The Atlantic if you’re lucky enough or have good enough friends. Set up a website and a Twitter account (no matter how neglected.) And sit back and hope and pray and cross your fingers really hard that the sparks fly, the comments are vituperative, and the AP picks up the story.

And that bloggers like me respond with outrage and talk about your “technique” and actually try to discuss its “merits.” Which . . . is a bit more than these books deserve. They all need to be firmly boxed up into their category: clickbait parenting trolling. That’s all they are, and they’ll disappear quickly, only to reappear in the media promotion of the author’s next book, wherein the writers will “revisit” the children and their novel parenting technique to see if they turned out to be porn starlets or heroin junkies or Washington DC interns, all of which may just be salacious enough to sell the new book.

Too bad I can’t make myself write one of the darn things. I don’t have the right pedigree, alas, and I don’t have 22 kids or something that would make a more conservative viewpoint salable from a publisher’s point of view. The question becomes “Are you really that shameless?” Sadly, the answer from a terrifically huge number of people is “Yes.” Which is why the next book is guaranteed to come out really soon after this book’s publicity push either withers on the vine or blossoms into a toxic jungle of comments, forum posts, and vicious arguments between people who otherwise are nice, ordinary, simple folks who would give you their spare change if you were a dollar short in the grocery checkout line.

Sigh.