In her latest book, Mellor stresses the importance of self-entertainment on airline flights. (A preschooler calling “Mommy! Mommy!” 5,000 times in a row is waaay worse than a screaming baby). She begs parents to stop speaking in the third person and using saccharine nicknames like Ry-Ry. If you talk to your kids like they are responsible individuals, she says, maybe they’ll start acting that way.
And worth the $12.95 price tag alone: Mellor’s suggested bylaws for your coffee klatch, including: #5 The first member to start talking about the rigors of early education while his/her child is still horizontal in a stroller must write one hundred times, “My child is only eighteen months old, which is too young to absorb serious academics. He needs to play and be a baby for several more years. Also, I am an idiot who now must buy overpriced coffees for everyone.”
Babble talked to Mellor (who has two children: Edison, fifteen, and Atticus, nine) from her home in Los Angeles about vacationing sanely, mixing martinis and the value of being bored. – Jennifer V. Hughes
How does putting kids in charge affect the experience of travel?
One of the weirdest things is this: God forbid they should be bored for five minutes. There’s a DVD for the backrest and Game Boys so they won’t have one minute to stare out the window and be bored. I think that’s so wrong. They don’t get to sing “Ninety-Nine Bottles of Beer on the Wall” and say, “When are we gonna get there?”
When you were growing up, did your parents have a Three Martini outlook on childrearing?
Yes, they did. My parents did have some really great parties. There really was this mystery, this thing about being a grown-up, this world that we had not yet earned our membership to. We could come and say hello and pass some peanuts and then they’d say, “You go off,” and we’d hear the clinking glasses and the rustling skirts and catch a glimpse through the railing. Now parents are taking their kids to family-friendly nightclubs, and I’m not trying to be a wet blanket, but do we have to give up our Friday nights to them, too? Don’t we see them enough already?
What did you think about all that hoo-ha that erupted when newspapers did stories about parents who get together and have a cocktail in the afternoon?
My whole thing is really not about alcohol – it’s a goddamned metaphor, people! (Laughs.) It’s not that I don’t love cocktails, but it’s really about a state of mind. I think people are obviously dying for something and I don’t think alcohol will fulfill what they are dying for. They need to stop doing so much stuff around their children. The focus on alcohol just shows that people want to have grown-up time again.
What is your favorite childhood vacation memory?
My dad used to take us camping a lot and once we went and it was pouring down rain. We got completely rained out. And I remember sleeping in the backseat of the car. Although our camping trip was ruined, I remember it as one of the most fun vacations ever because everyone was laughing. It was a huge lesson to me – if you lower your expectations, especially when you travel with your kids, you’re all going to have a good time.
So, I have to ask – what’s your favorite cocktail?
A martini, of course.
This is one of my huge pet peeves! (Laughs. Then gets very serious.) There is only one kind of martini – a very dry gin martini. It is not something with pink something in it. I have a whole essay in my next book about it.
What’s your next book?
It’s called Raised by Wolves: Clues to the Mysteries of Modern Living. It’s for twentysomethings whose parents didn’t have the chance to read my book and now they’re getting out of college and they don’t know how to make their bed.