The Owner’s Manual to Terrible Parenting by Guy Delisle, translated by Helge Dascher
Just look at that cover! Clearly, the emergency room beckons! Even as you already know what not to do as a parent, these things … well … sort of just seem to happen. For a third hilarious volume (first came A User’s Guide to Neglectful Parenting in 2013, then came Even More Bad Parenting Advice last year), terrible parenting again provides mortifyingly gleeful fodder for French Canadian Guy Delisle – an internationally bestselling comics legend – who knows just how to mine those ‘don’t try this at home’-misadventures with droll, biting, guffaw-inducing charm.
Don’t use Harry Potter for grammar lessons; be assured that scary Voldemort never explained adverbs to anyone! Don’t attempt to bribe your son with “the new xbox game” to go check your explosives. Don’t teach your daughter how to correctly spell insults having to do with female canine progeny. Don’t succumb to the mustard test and practically pass out – your dinner will get cold. Don’t break your son’s birthday present; don’t disparage your kids’ toys with expletives, either. Don’t kill off Goldilocks just before bedtime. Don’t curse your son because he’s smarter than you. And never, ever destroy the myth of Santa!
Smack in the middle of these comically resonating parenting adventures, Delisle attempts to do at least one right thing and assure his daughter that he loves her and her brother equally: “That’s what’s magic about parents. They love all their kids 100 percent.” Ah, well … that equality doesn’t go both ways: his daughter clearly announces,”I like Mom better.”
Enigmatic “Mom” is Nadège, Delisle’s partner/girlfriend/wife/mother of his two children (her monikers have evolved through his previous books) whose foreign postings with Médecins San Frontières/Doctors Without Borders inspired at least two of his titles (Burma Chronicles and Jerusalem). For the third time across three volumes, Mom barely needs to appear to be held up as the favored (more mature? more reliable?) parent. That Delisle has created three not-so-indirect homages to the elusive but unmistakably influential Nadège highlights quite a touching narrative about his own devotion to his beloved partner. Even as he glibly entertains with goofy humor, inappropriate advice, and truly “terrible parenting” choices, Delisle never loses sight of what makes a family: love and laughter abound.
Published: 2015 (United States)