Laura Bennett is (apparently) best known as a contestant on “Project Runway” – I wouldn’t know since I’ve never seen that show and had never heard of Bennett until I started reading her book. But while Didn’t I Feed You Yesterday? does spend a chapter detailing Bennett’s “Project Runway” experience, the book is really about the adventures of raising six kids in New York City.
Now, if you started to think that this was a book of parenting tips from an experienced parent, you’d be absolutely wrong. Even if she had tried to give advice (which she thankfully doesn’t), you wouldn’t want to take it. Laura Bennett isn’t a professional mommy like New York is rumored to be teaming with (which is a mark in her favor). But neither is she a free-range mom or some other sensible variant. No, Laura’s parenting could be best described as… Well, come to think of it, I have no idea how to describe her parenting – except to maybe say that she doesn’t parent. At least, not in the way you or I think of parenting.
She doesn’t watch her kids, feed her kids, or clean up after her kids. Those tasks are relegated to the two nannies (a morning and an afternoon nanny), the (weekend) “manny”, and her husband’s housekeeper. She doesn’t intentionally teach or discipline her children. She apparently makes no rules for her children, exercises little decision making over their activities (apart from making sure that each child has an activity that they’re into and helping pay the bills for the accompanying classes, camps, etc.), and otherwise does little that I think of as motherly oversight. Well, she does attend their class plays and helps out with homework assignments that involve hot glue guns.
Maybe I’m too harsh on Bennett. Probably I’m too harsh on Bennett. The reality is that raising six kids in the city is very different than raising six kids in the suburbs. As Bennett points out, simply ferrying the kids to and from school and to activities (which are necessary because there’s no yard to send them into) is practically a full time job. And raising six kids in a loft appartment is very different than raising six kids in a suburban ranch. And raising six kids when you have a career is different than raising six kids as a full-time homemaker. This is true. Bennett’s reality is very different than the environment in which I was raised or the environment in which I am raising my own daughter.
But Bennett doesn’t try too hard to get me to identify with her, mentioning her Manolos again and again, complaining about cold or wet weather, or talking of the torture of three weeks with her children at home AND her M/nannies gone.
Nevertheless, I enjoyed this recital of crazy anecdotes about her family, reading with the same fascination I’d feel towards monkeys gamboling about in the zoo. She thought she’d just burn the Christmas tree after Christmas! In their living room! Still in the stand! She taught her child that “bitch” was a feminine term and “bastard” a male – so he could correct the troublemaker who called him a “bitch”! She went with her (now) husband on a safari to Kenya as their second date!
She’s also funny, if you can get past the crudeness.
Rating: 1 star
Category: Parenting memoir/humor
Synopsis: Bennett tells about her crazy life, raising six kids in New York City.
Recommendation: Probably not worth seeking out.