Boys Will Put You on a Pedestal (So They Can Look up Your Skirt) : A Dad's Advice for Daughters
New things matter: Clothes. Parties. Boys. Suddenly being liked and being popular don't mean the same thing. Your parents get completely bizarre when the subject of dating comes up. A friend you've had forever stabs you in the back for no good reason. Everybody you know seems to feel free to comment on your constantly changing body. Drugs and alcohol go from being what you see "bad" kids doing on television shows to what you see your friends doing when no adults are around. How are you supposed to deal?
Since life doesn't come with a set of instructions, it helps to turn to people who have been through the stuff that you're facing. Even parents can help. (Really!) In Boys Will Put You on a Pedestal (so they can look up your skirt), former teenage boy -- and current dad of two daughters -- Philip Van Munching helps guide you through some of life's most confusing topics. From Beauty to Grief, from Sex to Fate, Van Munching covers the things you most want to know about and, in his wise, warm, and funny way, offers advice on how you can become the young woman you most want to be.
Weaving together humorous anecdotes and sound advice, devoted dad Van Munching, whom Couric calls "my personal Dr. Phil," shares a lifetime of wisdom for parents and their growing daughters in this brief book. The author draws on his experiences both as a kid and as a parent, and writes in a conversational style that is bound to make discussions of touchy subjects easier (and even entertaining). The father of two girls, Van Munching offers advice about boyfriends, sex, self-image and dealing with the emotional roller coaster ride of adolescence. The chapters about grief and drugs and alcohol are especially notable, but the book's most important point may be that all good advice comes through shared conversation rather than one-way lecturing. While the book is geared toward daughters, the content is just as applicable to sons, and readers of all ages will find it a useful tool for opening discussions about life's difficult issues.
Copyright (c) Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
There are no customer reviews available at this time. Would you like to write a review?
Simon & Schuster
May 02, 2005
Number of Print Pages*
Adobe DRM EPUB
* Number of eBook pages may differ. Click here for more information.
Excerpt from Boys Will Put You on a Pedestal (So They Can Look up Your Skirt) by Philip Van Munching
Introduction: If I Stepped in Front of a Bus
I'm not entirely sure whether it's a sign of pragmatism or just an advanced stage of whistling in the dark, but as I get older I seem to be having a lot more conversations that begin with this: "If I died tomorrow..." Actually, that's not quite right. Other people put it that way. I like to be more folksy. I always say, "If I stepped in front of a bus tomorrow..."
Which almost turned into a prophecy on a warm afternoon some months back, when I very nearly did just that. I damn near stepped in front of a bus.
It wasn't the bus that almost killed me, at least not at first. It was the panel truck that the bus blocked from my view. I stepped off the curb of Fifth Avenue and Thirty-third Street, certain that I could cross against the light; certain that I'd gauged the speed of the M3 bus correctly and, with just a slight jog, I would be on my way to the subway that much faster. Somewhere between being right in front of the driver and having cleared the bus entirely, I realized my mistake -- and I stepped backward as the truck blew past me. I stepped backward into the path of the bus. There was a horn; I can't tell you whether it was the truck's or the bus's, or whether it was just the noise adrenaline makes when it's being pumped to one's every extremity at once, because I remember only the sound. And I remember the sound only because it somehow wove itself into the intense and immediate sense of panic I felt. I don't even recall looking at the bus driver or how my legs got me back to the west side of Fifth Avenue. I know only that the bus kept going, missing me by a very little bit, and I got back to where I started.
Here's an interesting medical theory: If the heart races to five trillion beats per minute, short-term memory ceases to function. Maybe it's a problem of blood flow.
However I avoided becoming a part of New York City's asphalt, the important part of the story is not that I was lucky (and how!) nor that I was incredibly stupid (guilty as charged, Your Honor), but rather that my goose was very nearly cooked. This was suddenly for me not some lofty conversation about how I would like to be remembered, this was "Ohmygod I nearly widowed my wife and left my children fatherless." This was also the first time I could ever recall feeling the need to do a little inventory on that part of the soul where regrets are stored.
And you know what? I couldn't find any. While there were plenty of things I felt bad about, and even more that still make me flush with embarrassment, there was nothing that had any urgency to it. Nothing that I hadn't done that would've caused me to lose sleep; no serious trespass against anyone that I hadn't asked forgiveness for.
For a guy who'd just stepped in front of a bus, I felt pretty good. Except for one nagging thought. Call it a pre-regret, if you'd like. If I had stepped off the curb in front of that bus and died stupidly and tragically -- or even if I had died heroically, pulling children (and nuns and puppies) from a sinking boat in the East River -- my last thought would have been this: I haven't shared with my daughters all the things I meant to as they grow up, like telling them all of the experiences I've had that might actually be of some use to them as they make their way in life. I would have regretted not passing along to them the lessons that I've learned from the mistakes I've made, the things I've gotten right, and the good advice that I've been given.
That night, after squeezing my wife and daughters just a little tighter than usual, I lay awake wondering if there was a way to avoid that regret. Maybe for the first time since becoming a dad, I thought about how I would talk to my girls about the really important stuff, and when. Should I wait until things come up in their lives, and try to comment on them as they happen? Should I hold my tongue until I'm asked? Should I be reading 548-page books by guys with degrees in child psychology and taking notes? What if my daughters won't listen to me? What if they think I'm too pushy/annoying/dumb/out-of-touch? What if I give lousy advice? Needless to say, sleep did not come easily.
Over the next few days, I thought a lot about the best advice I've gotten, and where it came from. I realized pretty quickly that the stuff that's helped me most in life came from all kinds of different sources, but always in the same way. Supportively. Conversationally. I don't think I've followed a single piece of guidance that was given to me by someone who was lecturing; nothing that started with "Let me tell you something" or "You need to listen to this" has ever sunk in very deep. All the good stuff has come in conversation, usually with people who were simply passing along their own experiences.
Suddenly parenting didn't seem quite so daunting. Maybe I didn't need to have a series of lectures prepared -- they'd likely fall on deaf ears, anyway -- but instead I could focus on explaining to my girls how I had come upon my own beliefs.