The Loh Life is writer/performer Sandra Tsing Loh's weekly take on life, family, and pop culture in early 21st century Southern California.
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Iceland, Part Two: What Would Mrs. Sedaris Do?

Sandra Tsing Loh knows her parenting skills will always be better than at least one mother.

If you keep UP with your reading-as I TRY to-it's good to remain UPDATED as to ALL the new ways one is FAILING at being a mother.

Last year there was the Tiger Mother book, where we learned that whole soft, lazy WESTERN mothers are INDULGING their lazy children, CHINESE mothers make their children practice piano not one but four hours a day and as a result they play Carnegie Hall at 14 and go to Harvard-- Where they can beat up everyone ELSE'S children.

THIS year, as I've been saying, it's all about the FRENCH mother book. Happily, the French slack OFF on achievement-enfants francaises kids don't start to learn to read until they're six-but in return the mother has to be a FOOD Nazi. You can't get fat even when you're pregnant-- Sweatpants are BANNED in exchange for husband-pleasing pencil skirts, even when you still have a bebe--

But oddly, the rule that haunted me the most, was that the only snack a child is EVER allowed is at exactly 4 p.m.-- And that if a mother violates that rule even once, you are consigning the child to a world of obesity, diabetes, sloth, dissolution-

Ach-- I just count myself lucky that my children have never ended up abandoned in the EMERGENCY lane of the 101-- What with my not-quite-prescription READING glasses and their incredibly confusing LAUSD schedules, not to mention my IPHONE ring that they continually reset as space ping, fire engine horn, or marimba-- And snacks? If they're lucky, there's a Costco flat of jerky in the trunk.

At a certain point you get ANGRY-- You want to say, "Look. We all love our children and are doing our best. As long as our kids don't have to lie awake at night in an orphanage in a bath of their own cold pee, they'll be fine. Look at Mrs. Sedaris!"

That's always my fallback, the mother of David Sedaris. According to his famous stories, she smoked, she drank, she locked her six children out of the house on snow days. . . And voila, here are TWO of her kids, David and Amy Sedaris, among the leading humorists of their generation! Now THERE'S a parenting GIFT book I'd like to see come out on Mother's Day-- not Tiger Mother or French mother but simply, "WHAT WOULD MRS. SEDARIS DO?"

And so, MINUS the chain-smoking, THAT will be my rallying cry! WHAT WOULD MRS. SEDARIS DO? I try to apply that next week.