Man vs. Child: One Dad’s Guide to the Weirdness of Parenting is a nuts-and-bolts reference guide about fatherhood penned in a sarcastic and cynical tone by Doug Moe, a longtime performer, instructor and writer for the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre improv and sketch comedy troupe.
Moe, a member of NYC Dads Group, packages advice and empathy mainly for stay-at-home dads (SAHD) about their common dilemmas and doubts about domestic life. What makes the 190-page book unique is Moe’s honest, big-hearted and sentimental take.
Although his snark comes across inherently dumb, Moe still effectively pokes fun at a job — and at-home parenting is definitely a job — that is often monotonous, maddening, joyful, amazing and consequential. For example, for the SAHD, isolation is universal and finding social connections isn’t especially easy given at-home fathers at still a rarity despite their growing numbers. In the section, “It Happened to Me: I was the Dad in a Mommy Group” Moe writes, “They’re a good place to compare your kid to others and reassure yourself that your toddler is less of a dick than some other kids” but “even the smallest whiff of‘ ‘a weird guy in a bunch of ladies’ is enough to break the spell and get you removed from the email list.”
Man vs. Child delivers “the business” to dads, too. In “Other Toddler’s Parents: A Field Guide,” he lets the reader know nobody’s perfect by casting pops into different roles. Labels include the apologists, space cadets, drill sergeants, and my favorite, coach dads. Moe describes these guys as boasters who spew their sports knowledge until they start losing. At that point, they say “Good hustle! That’s the intensity! What the hell are you doing, Kyle??!”
One of the best features of Man vs. Child are its standalone lists. In the “Hidden Horrors of Parenting: A Thousand Tiny Cuts,” the humorist lists of more than 30 tiny annoyances that dads and moms find maddening. These include “having to buy something for them (kids) whenever you go anywhere,” and “not letting you throw out any of their broken garbage,” and “not being tired: how is that possible?”
While Man vs. Child is a light-hearted, informative and entertaining read, it’s not perfect. The jokes don’t always land. In addition, Moe doesn’t address issues for suburban dads. Then again, Moe doesn’t pretend to be an expert. He’s merely an at-home dad who had the balls to write down his experience and advice so please, no trolling.
However, I would buy Man vs. Child. Why? Because Moe has answers to so many important papa-centric predicaments like:
- Should you take your baby to a bar?
- How do you handle your pregnant wife?
- Why dads with beards are cool?
- Who are the worst cartoon characters among Thomas the Tank Engine, Daniel Tiger, Dora and Caillou to name a few. (It’s Caillou. It’s always Caillou.)
At the end of the day, in 190 pages, Moe makes the case for dads in all their forms to stand up, be proud of who they are, know they are not alone, and stay involved with their families. You’ll find his words worthy and wise with not just sarcasm, but sentimentality, too.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Anthony Fireman, a member of our Boston Dads Group, is a writer and at-home father of two children ages 4 and 6 and a dog. He lives in Natick, Mass.