NEW YORK (AP) — What are toddlers? In the addled brain of Bunmi Laditan, the mom-of-three behind the cheeky Honest Toddler on Twitter, they're a "cross between a sociopath, a rabid animal, a cocker spaniel, a demon and an angel."
Depending on the time of day and the last time they ate something.
Laditan, 31, has flipped the table on her tiny, mouthy social media persona for a funny new book full of frank-and-worthy insights for parents, "Toddlers (It's Not Your Fault) are A(asterisk)(asterisk)holes," out in April from Workman.
The Quebec mom home herding two girls, ages 9 and 5, and a 2-year-old boy, has good company in the parenting-is-hell genre. Among the latest are Adam Mansbach's "You Have to F-g Eat," a follow to his massively popular "Go the F(asterisk) to Sleep," and "I Heart My Little A-holes" by Karen Alpert.
So much parenting advice, Laditan said, is way too shiny. It doesn't reflect the trenches and sets up standards of perfection that serve to shame rather than feed the souls of people raising kids. Drunken, cursing satire takes some of the pressure off, she said.
"Everyone's always projecting their best selves on Pinterest and Instagram and in so many of the parenting books. You know, there's a photo of a child sitting in the dandelion field eating an avocado in a white linen onesie. We know that child didn't eat that avocado. He had a Pop Tart on the way home. He ate it raw," Laditan laughs.
Six months after @HonestToddler hit Twitter in 2012, Laditan had a deal for a book of the same name. Among chapters of her trash-talking new book are "Mealtime aka Hell," ''Your Nonexistent Sex Life" and "Grooming Your Goblin." And among her favorite bits is how to play sleeping tiger with your toddler.
"It's where I'm the tiger on the floor and I don't make eye contact or speak to you. I just lay there and you just play around the tiger," she offers.
So why would Laditan be thinking about have a fourth kid, considering?
"Because, the thing about it is, parenting is still fun," she said.
Lest young parents think it's all about them, times haven't changed much since her own mom was home in Berkeley, California, with Laditan and her three brothers.
"She used to tell my dad — I didn't know this — 'If you ever decide to run away you need to take me with you because I'm not staying here with these four kids.'"
Five questions for Bunmi Laditan:
AP: Is the new book intended as the flipside of The Honest Toddler? Is it time for parents to have their own cheeky voice?
Laditan: Yes (laughs). It's the response from the frustrated parent, essentially. I didn't actually plan this. The book came about when I was just having one of those days when I was making dinner for the family. Nobody was eating anything. The kids were having one of those times when they're voice activated: Pick up the fork. Now put the food in your mouth. Now chew the food. Swallow the food. OK, now repeat that process again. And I completely just had it so I went into the living room and started typing and the book just came out.
AP: How with three kids and perhaps a fourth has your work on The Honest Toddler kept you sane?
Laditan: It's very cathartic. Writing from the perspective of a toddler has changed how I interact with them and see children. I consider their POV, what life looks like to them. Some of my favorites tweets are the ones that point out the hypocrisy of adults, like 'It's hard to take adults seriously when you consider that their greatest fears are Mondays and carbohydrates.'
It's all the little things when you wonder what we look like to them.
AP: How do satire and sass reflect the more brutal aspects of parenting?
Laditan: Parenting is difficult. Everybody knows that, but I think that parents are so surprised at how difficult it is that they assume they're doing something wrong. There's this aspect of shame and secrecy. This helps them realize that they're not alone, they're not failing.
And the thing is, it's just difficult because it's difficult. It's hard to have a 3-year-old. It's hard to have a 2-year-old. You can't reason with them. They don't take the threats the way older kids do (laughs). Once you accept that in the everyday it gets a little bit easier.
AP: Do you think parents of toddlers take themselves too seriously?
Laditan: Absolutely. Parents just in general. I think social media is to blame in some ways because parents who are parenting in the Facebook age are constantly comparing themselves. We have almost too much information. I would say we have more knowledge than maybe traditional wisdom. There's a study that comes out every other day about how this or that is going to kill your child.
So we're neurotic, we're stressed out, we're over-scheduled, and then throw in pretty normal behavior like toddler temper tantrums or a 3-year-old being defiant and it feels impossible.
AP: Did you have trouble coming up with fodder for the new book?
Laditan: I didn't! It just flowed. I write mostly at night. I pass out after the kids go to sleep around 8, then wake up around 10 or 11 and write until 3 a.m.
It's a really good time to write because it's so quiet. Nobody's asking for a snack. Nobody needs help in the bathroom. Nobody's fighting. Nobody's trying to jump off the top of the couch and land in the ER. You know, just have some tea. Nobody's going to knock it over.
It's the rawest, crudest writing that I've ever done. I was originally going to use a pen name so I thought, 'Well nobody's going to know it's me.' My publisher was like, 'Uh, about that pen name. Yeah. No.'
And I loved my pen name. It was Sopha King Tyerd.