Book review: Don’t Lick the Minivan


“Stop playing with your sister’s poop!”

Every mom has a line (or two, or 78) that they’ve said and immediately thought to themselves, “Never thought I’d say that!” The line above? That was the first time I ever said something to my children I never would have thought I’d have to say.

When faced with the absurdity pregnancy, childbirth and parenting bring, some women respond with grace and poise. Others survive only by utilizing the best tool in your parenting toolbox – a sense of humour.

Leanne Shirtliffe’s debut book, Don’t Lick the Minivan, is a must read if you find the above situations funny. I should disclose at this point that Leanne is a friend of mine. So this will be a great review. Not because I’m being nice to a friend (I feel no compulsions to do that to be honest) but because she’s awesome and the book is awesome. I surround myself with awesome as much as possible and Leanne is no exception. In fact, the incredible Jenny Lawson (aka The Bloggess) declared, “Leanne Shirtliffe is awesome and so is this book. I’m bad at writing blurbs.”

I know, it’s a lot of awesome.

Don’t Lick the Minivan is Leanne’s memoir (momoir?) of how she survived living in Thailand and then Canada through pregnancy and raising rambunctious twins. Her stories are hilarious, poignant and just a lot of fun to read. If you’ve ever found yourself laughing when you’re supposed to be fuming, or you want to have a laugh reaction instead of a freak out reaction and need to learn how to see the funny, Leanne can help.

I loved this book because it feels like Leanne has seen the funny from the start. The best advice I ever received as a new mom was when a friend told me to step back from all of those moments when your kid has created an epic mess and ask yourself, will this be funny in a year? If you think yes, then just friggin’ laugh at it now.

Because I don’t have a book in which to tell my stories, I’ll share a few here in honour of Leanne’s book. Which is much funnier than my stories so go buy her book.

1. The epic poop nap. Every parent has experienced this, no? If you haven’t, get that vasectomy reversed and have a fifth kid. You really must experience the joy of walking into your cooing baby’s room to discover your pint-sized Picasso has removed her poopy diaper and created a masterpiece of shit on the crib and walls. I laughed, then grabbed the camera, then grabbed the Clorox.

2. Overhearing screaming from the bathroom I walked down the hall to find my eldest two glaring daggers at their three-year-old. “Coco peed in the potato chips!” was the accusation. “Did you really pee in the potato chips?” I asked, picking up the large bag, which was warm on the bottom and most definitely sloshy. The toddler glared back at them defiantly. “I told them if they wouldn’t share I would pee in them. They didn’t share. So I popped a squat and peed in the chips!” Is there any other suitable reaction to this other than to walk away and scream laugh into a pillow?

3. Putting the baby down for a nap I went in search of my eldest, whom I hadn’t heard from in a while. She wasn’t responding to my calls, and my search turned frantic as I raced around the house looking for her, then ran out of the house terrified that she had wandered off. Finally I checked the ensuite bathroom, where the lights were out and the door just slightly ajar. There she was, sound asleep on the floor mat in front of her potty, bare ass up in the air and pants around her ankles. Terror fled and relief replaced it, and I was off to find the camera. I posted the photo on Facebook before I’d even checked for a pulse.

Those are my funny kid stories. Leanne’s are funnier. And there are way more. In fact, a whole book’s worth.

leanne and alison redford

(Alberta Premier Alison Redford bought Leanne’s book. You should too.) 

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