Tag Archives: self-help

The New Father: A Dad’s Guide to the First Year

I cannot decide whether it’s weirder to be reading non-fiction, or to be reading a book gradually over the course of a year. Both are pretty weird! Like, maybe histories would be less weird? History is just non-fiction with a plot and a throughline. Although I guess a book about what to expect over the course of a year of childhood growth is almost that too? But histories have characters, which this does not, super-disgusting anecdotes about mistaken pumpkin puree notwithstanding.

As you may have guessed by this point in the review, my son is nearing a year old. And thusly I have been reading on a (mostly) month ahead basis, the first of Armin Brott’s New Father trilogy(?), wherein I learn what to do over the course of a year.

You are now asking yourself two questions. And the answer to the first is that it’s a helpful book in the same ways that the pregnancy book was. Not quite as helpful, and my uninformed speculation from a non-female perspective as to why is that there are more different types of kids than there are types of pregnancies. Or maybe I’m just more invested in how closely he hews to the baby averages than I was in how closely we hewed to the pregnancy averages? Also feasible.

The answer to the second question is that I have done at best a mediocre job following the presented advice. I’m about as bad at money with him as I am at money with me. We play, but I never really wrestle with him, which came up a lot in the book? I don’t really understand how to wrestle with someone that small, to be honest. I feel like he’s been consistently months ahead on the physical scale[1] and on the manipulation scale[2], but maybe farther behind than I want him to be on the verbal scale? Like, this “you’ve made it through a year” chapter I just read, which to be fair is still four weeks away, expects him to be able to point at his body parts when we tell him to, and I’m not sure I’ve ever tried to get him to know all his body parts before reading that. Which as we all know means I’m objectively a bad father. He might be able to say two words by now, but then again maybe not, and is expected to have a six plus word vocabulary in the aforementioned four weeks. Maybe he will! Or maybe I’m, again, objectively bad at this.

I’m 95% not serious about my reactions, but this also goes back to my “more invested” thing from before. Because the goal of the pregnancy book was to end up with a baby, which is pretty much a binary outcome. Whereas the goal of this book (and the subsequent ones I presume) is to make the existing infant into a good human who can successfully navigate the world. That is, uh, non-binary, you know? It is open-ended. Which means that yeah, any moment where he’s not on target or better is a moment for me to feel bad about myself. So that’s great.

For no fault of the book’s own, I’m not sure whether I want the sequel. Probably should, though? It is almost certainly better to use and resent the map than to kick it in the creek.[3]

[1] Rolling over, standing, walking, etc. Gross body movements. (As opposed to fine.)
[2] Ha ha, but no. Here I mean fine body movements (as opposed to gross), like unscrewing lids, putting objects in holes, etc.
[3] I’ve made myself sad, as that reference was more or less for one person, who isn’t alive to see it. Or the kid.

How to Good-Bye Depression: If You Constrict Anus 100 Times Everyday. Malarkey? or Effective Way?

Thing number one, which is important: I am not making this book up.

See, there’s this self-help book, in which the Japanese author recommends exercise, positive thinking, getting in touch with your body’s energy, diet changes and fasting to cure depression, cancer, family and personal problems of all stripes, to achieve success in life, to look and feel younger, and to be able to instantly apprehend all that can be known about objects and people using the power of your brain. Which, okay, is not that different from many other self-help books and/or new age treatises. The difference between those books and this one is they they were not written in Japanese and then seemingly passed through Babelfish[1] a couple of times. Nor do the first quarter of these other books consist of a mishmash of disordered Usenet postings from the turn of the millennium, before it sank beneath the waves of the internet never to be seen again.

Most importantly though, these other books do not recommend that you “constrict anus 100 times every day and then dent navel 100 times every day after constricting anus 100 times every day, following the lifestyle of long-lived British.” They do not explain that after fasting for three weeks, you will rid yourself of “a big bucketful of old, black excrement” which will weigh 4-5 kilograms. They do not exhort you to concentrate your third attention and send out your immaterial fiber at objects patiently for an hour a day for 3-5 years or possibly 10. They do not spontaneously speculate about the ways in which Al Gore and George W. Bush probably follow most of this advice and are able to * * twice or three times in succession without pulling out, as a result. (Okay, I may have taken ordering liberties with that last part; but it’s not an unfair assessment.)

Here’s my point. I don’t know if constricting anus 100 times every day is an effective way to good-bye depression or not. But reading this book? It really seems to do the trick. Sure, there’s a slow part in the middle, but mostly, more laugh density than most intentionally comedic books I read. Also, assuming you hadn’t heard of this book before, be honest with yourself. You’ve constricted your anus at least once while reading this, haven’t you? (Be honest with yourself. Not with me. I don’t want to know details, here. Come on, people! Keep me out of your anus!)

[1] Historical note from 2020: Babelfish no longer exists. I’d recommend translate.google.com as a good alternative.