Or, as I like to think of it, “Paranoid Parents’ Problem Primer”. Seven hundred pages of things that could go horribly wrong with your child.
OK, it’s not quite as bad as that. The first chapters are all about normal development, and thus much less paranoia-inducing. They do talk about the things that can go wrong, but they also talk about what “going right” looks like, which is likely to reduce the level of worry. Those chapters are divided by age, and each includes a box on things you should do to help your child’s mental development. A few things appear on every list: “Provide a loving environment” is one of them. Another is “Speak a foreign language at home if you know one”, so it looks like the consensus in favour of raising Yudetamago bilingual is overwhelming.
The most paranoia-inducing section was the chapter on accident prevention. “All accidents can be prevented!” Translation: “If your child has an accident, it’s your fault.” Actually, this chapter felt like it was written by the AAP’s lawyers, not its doctors. Some of the advice is actually impossible to follow. For example, when shopping, it says that you should not take your eyes off your child even for a moment. To, for example, choose items of the shelves, get money out, or pay. So, if you’re a working single parent, you cannot shop and still be a good parent.
I’m going to be taking the prevention advice with a pinch of salt. Some bits are clearly right; I’ll be getting child covers for the unused plug sockets in the flat, for example, and a fire extinguisher. Other bits add up to being silly. In the section on preventing sunburn, they say that you should not let your child play outside between 10am and 4pm. In the section on preventing insect bites, they say you should not let your child play outside around dawn, late afternoon, and dusk. Obviously, letting your child play outside in the dark is dangerous. Best to keep them inside, safe in their disinfected padded rooms.
The book is also clearly American in a number of ways. One is the discussion of insurance plans, but another is the discussion of moving your baby. The only modes of transport discussed are cars and planes. No discussion of buses and trains. Bicycles are mentioned, but only to say that it’s far too dangerous to mount a child on a bicycle. This is mildly annoying, since we are likely to be transporting Yudetamago on buses and trains, and some advice on how would have been very helpful.
The second part of the book (a bit less than half) is a list of things that could go wrong with your child and what to do. I can see that this will be very useful when Yudetamago is ill; looking through will help to decide whether we need to call the doctor, or whether kissing it better will be enough.
Sometimes, however, it is less encouraging. “This is a serious and perplexing disease”, “However, despite intense research, no bacteria, virus, or toxin has been established as the cause of the disease”, “In most cases the blood vessels return to normal after a few months, but in some cases they remain weakened”. This is the sort of mysterious illness that parents get really paranoid about.
The fact that it is called Kawasaki Disease is not helping.