Monday, August 23, 2010

Book Review: What the Heck Were You Expecting?

What the Heck Were You Expecting?: A Complete Guide for the Perplexed Fatherby Thomas Hill. Three Rivers Press, 2000, 141 pages, $11.95 US.

Brief overview of content:

The book follows a standard format for discussing issues relevant to husbands who are also fathers. After pre-birth and the first day, the book goes month by month through the first year  followed by chapters on the toddler years and "childhood and beyond." The chapters are divided into several sections:
  • What Your Above-Average Baby/Child May Be Doing
  • What Your Wife May Be Complaining About
  • What You May Be Concerned About
  • What It's Important to Know
  • What to Be Terrified About This Month
  • A Few Things to Say to Let Her Know That You Are Caring, Sensitive and Up on the Required Reading
As you might guess from these headings, the book is a very comical take on the practical advice a father needs to have. Legitimate good advice is mixed in with comical commentary. For example, when discussing teething pain the author writes about rubbing a little Scotch on the baby's gums to ease the pain. He then discusses the best types of Scotch, from which regions and the importance of not skimping on price where your baby is concerned. Such "medicine" is also helpful for the father in dealing with the child's growing pains.

Author overview:

From his Amazon page: A native of Ithaca, N.Y., Thomas Hill is a creative executive for Nick@Nite and TV Land. A veteran of Harvard, the United States Chess Federation, and fatherhood, Thomas has five children and lives with his family in Verplanck, N.Y.


1. Read cover to cover vs. consult as needed.

Since the book is divided chronologically, it is easy to read one month's worth of advice during that month or just before it comes. There's no index but the table of contents gives a detailed outline of each chapter's contents beyond the bullets mentioned above.

2. Readability.

Light-hearted and highly entertaining, this book is very readable.

3. Helpful to a parent?

The book is one of the few that are written from the dad's perspective and focusing on his role. The advice in the book is entertaining and mostly useful, though some part just seem added for comical effect. Reading it is reassuring--you know you're not the only dad who is clueless.

4. Did we use it?

In spite of the excellent advice on buying Scotch, I still haven't made a purchase. We did go "low key" for Jacob's first birthday party, which the author recommends. First birthday parties really are for everyone else to get together and have a good time. Jacob and Lucy won't remember their parties at all. Except for all the pictures on Facebook, of course.

Sample text

On how babies think: The key to understanding babies lies in recognizing that their primary task during these early years, beyond the basic survival skills, is to analyze and comprehend how the world works. They are scientists. Furthermore, you should recognize that as a parent you are not a fellow scientist, a lab assistant, or even a great teacher. You are part of the experiment. You are one of the prime subjects of observation and study. [p. 88]
Truer words have never been spoken. We here at the Zombie Parent's Guide couldn't agree more. We know who is in charge and have some vague idea of what is going on. As much as they will let us know. I hear the master calling for a snack and must go now...

Note: this book is not available new from Amazon unless you want if for the Kindle, so you'll probably have to hunt around libraries and local book stores for it. Or buy from one of the Amazon partner sellers. You should support local sellers and libraries anyway, because where are you going to find stuff when the zombie apocalypse happens? Who knows where Amazon warehouses are hidden? I found this book at Royal Oak Bookshop in Front Royal, Virginia, so maybe don't try there since I bought the last copy.

No comments:

Post a Comment