Novelist Edgerton (Creative Writing/Univ. of North Carolina, Wilmington; The Night Train, 2011, etc.) tenders sage yet waggish fathering advice.
Edgerton is a 68-year-old father with four children between the ages of 6 and 30. Here, he offers the fruits of the many ruminations and experiences that informed them, coming at his subject with a wisdom that is still being surprised, daily. Enjoy the good stuff, he writes, and make sure your children are the best of the good stuff. The author is generous, thankful and unmushy, and his advice is more descriptive than prescriptive—though one can hinge on the other. His suggestions and opinions are always spot-on—“A few weeks before the baby is born, go ahead and install the car seat”—and then leavened with humor: “This could take six to eight hours.” There are choice nuggets about in-laws, childproofing, embarking on the Ferber method of letting your child cry themselves to sleep (“After the second or third night, your mother or mother-in-law or the vegetarian will verbally blister you for this ‘inhumane’ practice”), talking toys (“Satan is real and these are among his gifts") and lice (“burn down the house”). He also throws in zingers that bite, like trying to hold fast to the magic and playfulness of childhood: “It’s sad that children’s open-eyed wonder and sense of play begin to fade as they approach adolescence. One grand function of fathering is to keep the fading to a minimum.” Throughout the long, complicated process of parenting, writes Edgerton, it is important to keep your sense of humor. Fatherhood is a dance of extreme ecstasy and deep worry, but “try not to worry too much.” Nonetheless, “be ready for stress.”
Refreshingly, a parenting advice book worth its salt.