Would Somebody Please Send Me to My Room!
by Bob Schwartz
illustrated by B.K. Taylor
Published by Glenbridge Publishing
316 pages, 2005
The Parenthood Zone
Reviewed by Mary Ward Menke
In Would Somebody Please Send Me to My Room! Bob Schwartz takes a lighthearted look at the most serious job in the world -- parenting. A humor writer and author whose monthly column appears in parenting magazines throughout the United States and Canada, Schwartz is skilled at spinning those everyday twists and turns of family life -- like the sound of a flushing toilet accompanied by a child's "Uh-oh!" -- into a cause for rich laughter.
A sports fanatic, Schwartz took a literal approach when fulfilling his assignment as Head Birthing Coach, -- "despite not having the slightest bit of coaching experience at the game" -- at the birth of his first child: "My wife wasn't terribly amused when I tried to provide a little enthusiasm during labor by getting the nurses to join me in doing the wave."
It didn't take him long to realize just how clueless he was. Arriving home with their first-born son, Schwartz started hearing voices ... well, just one voice ... that of Rod Serling, host of the original Twilight Zone:
You're about to travel to another dimension
The Newborn Zone was soon followed by the Whirlwind Zone (known in some circles as the Terrible Twos), and then the Multiple Child Zone: "Right when I was feeling a little more in control, I suddenly realized I was outnumbered. I found myself quickly traveling back to those previous Zones of parenthood. I could only wish I had taken better notes along the way."
As his family grew, Schwartz discovered how distorted his perception of parenthood had once been. In his B.P. (Before Parenthood) days, he firmly believed that children were "simply putty in a parent's hands, giant breathing Play-Doh for us to mold and shape completely." He is now a proponent of the "Marshmallow Theory," a philosophy born of the observation of children roasting marshmallows. Parents are sure to recognize their offspring in the following descriptions:
First are the Pyrotechnic Preparers, kids who burn their marshmallows to a crisp and immediately plop them into their mouths. These kids are extroverts with high energy and possess a great zest for life. Then there are the Time-Taking Tanners, who painstakingly brown their marshmallows. These children are cautious and don't take a lot of chances. Ultimately Impatient children try to be slow and deliberate when roasting marshmallows, but eventually wind up burning them. These laid-back individuals will never develop stress ulcers. Hesitant Heaters can't make up their minds about how they want the marshmallow to turn out. According to Schwartz, their "bumper sticker would read, 'I used to think I was indecisive. Now I'm not so sure.'" Finally, there are the Give Me S'Mores children to whom nothing is ever enough. They always want more and are difficult to please.
When he's not coming up with Nobel Prize-worthy theories, Schwartz relaxes by participating in yoga classes with his family. He admits they got into the act a little late, but isn't worried; after all, yoga isn't a "passing pop culture fad ... it's lasted a bit longer than mood rings and carries more historical significance than the art of flagpole sitting." He also helps his children with science projects "a bit more advanced than the 'How long does it take for a banana to go black?'" endeavors of his youth, and attends his son's swim meets, where he's learned that "it's the endurance of the parents that is most tested."
All things considered, Schwartz's family sounds pretty much like every one else's. However, I strongly suspect they just might be having more fun. | June 2005
Mary Ward Menke is a contributing editor to January Magazine and the owner of WordAbilities, LLC, providing writing and editing services to businesses and individuals. Her work has been published in The Toastmaster, Dog Fancy and Science of Mind magazines, in the Suburban Journals (a weekly St. Louis community newspaper) and on STLtoday.com.