Ericka Schickel’s transgressive tales from the front line of child-rearing are genuinely funny. Take the LA-based author’s account of a doomed trip to a restaurant called Benihana. It’s her 39th birthday and she’s determined to have a good time, despite fractious children and her own birthday blues. Benihana’s main selling point is that chefs appear in front of your table and cook your meal there and then on sizzling-hot griddle plates. The chef turns up, at which point one of her children projectile-vomits all over the griddle and the restaurant is filled with the aroma of frying sick.
The mother dissolves into fits of laughter and has the birthday of her life.
Schickel has a novel attitude to unwinding – despite being heterosexual, she likes nothing more than to leave her husband with the kids and escape to a nearby gentlemen’s club with a female friend to buy a lap-dance from a pretty girl. The book also contains an inspired chapter on smoking cannabis as a parenting aid.
Regardless of the misbehaviour, you never doubt Schickel’s devotion to her children, and the final description of the games her two daughters play is tender, beautifully observed and quietly touching.