A warm and witty look at the relationships that bind (for better or worse) parent to child and child to parent. Though subtitled ""for parents in the dark,"" this collection by the author of California and Other States of Grace and Peripheral Visions will delight even those readers who have never known the sometimes dubious pleasure of parenthood. Anyone who has even been a child will find insights here that will set him or her nodding in recognition and chortling at Theroux's deft way with a phrase. Lines leap from the text like panthers on the prowl. Discussing anger, for example, Theroux points out, ""Like a misplaced screwdriver, it is often someplace else when I need to get my hands on it."" Describing a dress her daughter selected for a prom, she admits, ""We found an ensemble that struck me as something Lauren Bacall might wear to a funeral in Acapulco."" One son describes himself as ""an anarchist-vegetarian, except for hot dogs."" Then, there is the story of the same son's startling his confirmation class by announcing he has chosen ""Jesus"" for his confirmation name. The bishop's reaction to this example of ecclesiastical overkill is a delight. Theroux, as a single parent of three, is especially adept in delineating the varying needs and demands of siblings within the same family group. It is like growing ""a cactus, a gardenia plant and a tub full of impatiens"" in the same garden, she points out. With these sorts of telling insights, it's little wonder she has been an immensely popular columnist for Parents magazine for several years. Readers who have followed her articles there and those who are coming across her writing for the first time in this collection will rejoice with their discovery of this wry, wonderful book.