When I heard that Christian Piatt had written a memoir about his wife’s pregnancy, I thought, Damn it! I wanted to write that book!
You’ll have to excuse my language. I am, after all, waiting for the birth of my first child, a little dude who was due on October 18 and, as of this writing, is still kicking his mom’s ribs. My God, it is hard to wait! As Steve Toltz once wrote, tongue-in-cheek, “The moment seemed endless, but it was probably only half that.”
I give thanks, then, for the opportunity to pass the time with Piatt’s book. Rarely has anything I’ve read caused me to laugh out loud so often! The writing is gracious, the author self-deprecating in the best sense by which he holds a mirror to his experience for the benefit of the rest of us. But what I appreciate the most is the child’s voice.
You see, I couldn’t have written this book because Piatt waits for the newborn baby with his first born son. Not only does he share their experiences, he begins each chapter with a direct quote from his little four year-old. He skillfully avoids the common trap of using his son for mere entertainment value, like in a children’s sermon that is really geared to impress adults with just how “cute the kids are.” In this book, the child’s perspective rings true, endearing yet irreverent, innocent but self-centered – in a word, human. This book shakes adults out of our saccharine, sticky-sweet attitudes towards the little ones in hopes that we might be prompted to take an honest look at ourselves. Indeed, the author loves his child by learning from him; and so, invites us to do the same, whether we have children or not.
Admittedly, part of me wishes I had this idea. But my waiting has been enriched by this book. It came into my life at the perfect time. The Bard puts it so: “And this, our life, exempt from public haunt, finds tongues in trees, books in the running brooks, sermons in stones, and good in everything” (As You Like It).