Gaffigan book a must-read for parents
Don't let the title of comedian Jim Gaffigan's funny memoir on parenting scare you off. "Dad is Fat" is a title he chose after his son drew a picture of dad with a round middle and wrote the sentence: "Dad is fat."
Actually, Gaffigan has written a rather endearing tribute to his family and raves about his wife, Jeannie, who has given birth to five children in the last eight years.
The best things about "Dad is Fat": it's a hilarious and realistic look at what it's like to be a parent today, compared to what it was like when Gaffigan was a child in the 1970s. Not to mention that his wife and he are raising these five children in New York City in a small two-bedroom apartment. Just that fact alone makes you want to pick up this book to find out: How do they do it?
This has become my new book to recommend to all parents, grandparents and parents-to-be. First, Gaffigan is a "clean, family-friendly" comedian. He explains in the book that this means he does not use cuss words in his stand-up act.
He is best known for the Hot Pockets joke and being extremely pale, and he's also a TV and movie actor, with roles in "17 Again" and "It's Kind of a Funny Story" as well as "That 70s Show" and "Ed."
The book is divided into very short essays about being married, having kids, being a kid, having parents and more. For example, the essay "Witchcraft" is about his wife deciding she wanted to have a home birth with all five of their children.
Then he goes on to "Newbornland," where he states, "I'm not surprised how much I love my children. I'm relieved. Shortly after I found out Jeannie was pregnant for the first time, I was worried. ... I always found those Anne Geddes baby flower photos annoying."
Nothing is off-limits in "Dad is Fat," where he discusses changing a diaper, the lies we tell children (such as their illustrations are great or all the horrible things that have happened to people who played with firecrackers), trying to get five kids ready to go to the park, taking kids to church, sleeping, eating, attachment parenting and sitters.
One of my favorite essays is a critical analysis of children's literature, where he tackles some of his kids' favorites, such as "Caps for Sale," "Go, Dog, Go," and "The Very Hungry Caterpillar." He states that he has developed some very strong opinions and questions about these books.
For example, he questions if he is the only reader to wonder if the caterpillar in Eric Carle's story has an eating disorder. The one that made me laugh out loud: "Goldilocks and the Three Bears," where Gaffigan states: "No one ever questions why Papa Bear and Mama Bear slept in separate beds. What is going on in that marriage?"
Photos of the kids, Gaffigan, and his wife are sprinkled throughout the book, as well as drawings by him and his children to add an extra touch to the stories.
In "Dad is Fat," Gaffigan says what many of us parents are thinking on a daily basis. His belief is that parenting is the most important job a person can have and one of the easiest to mess up. Every day is a struggle, and we have to learn to laugh at ourselves and see the joy in our families. He certainly does this with his memoir.
Get this one on your lists for Mother's Day and Father's Day presents, and bring some smiles and giggles to loved ones' lives this spring.
Margo L. Dill is the author of "Finding My Place: One Girl's Strength at Vicksburg," a middle grade historical fiction novel. She often reviews books as a columnist for "WOW! Women On Writing" e-zine and her blog, "Margo Dill's Read These Books and Use Them" (margodill.com/blog/). She lives in St. Louis with her family.