If Only All Women Could Be Half the Mother Julia Roberts Is

Try "exchanging ideas" with your kids, and convincing them that the "world is their television."

Oh, Julia Roberts, please shut up. No one is browsing People.com for parenting advice from you. I log on to rest my brain, and vote on the worst and best dressed (Carrie Underwood always looks styled by Dress Barn), and the last thing I need is self-important advice about kids watching TV from a movie star who probably has multiple nannies and vacation homes. In case “We’re more book people in our house,” isn’t an eye-roller, Roberts worked in that they “read poetry and share ideas.”

I imagine her pontificating in a faux British accent, like Madonna, and working in the word lit-tra-lee, wherever she can, like, “The children lit-tra-lee adore soy ice cream. They lit-ra-lee prefer it to cow ice cream.” My kids would lock me in the coat closet and tell the neighbors I was missing if I tried reading them poetry or feeding them fake ice cream.

Within the very same week that Julia Roberts infringed upon my me-time, I also accidentally picked up a Good Housekeeping. I should know better, but our dentist only has nice-lady magazines or Highlights, and both kids were getting teeth cleanings at the same time. It was a long wait. There was a one-page “mom” profile of Alyson Hannigan. She played a horny band geek in that high-brow classic, American Pie, and now she’s on a hit TV show called How I Met Your Mother, which is already in syndication, or should I say $$$$yndication?

She told Good Housekeeping that she doesn’t allow her daughter to watch TV, and that she and her husband are “sticking to it” because “the world is her television.” That was her answer to the “parenting rule that she will never break.” Brace yourself for the “parenting rule she does break”: Giving her child too much fruit before bed. So much for my curse-free Lent.

If that kid doesn’t get some beef jerky and a soda soon, she’ll be doing a lot worse by the time she’s in middle school. Although, being home-schooled by Mary Poppins and unicorns seems very much within the realm of possibility for this child.

My kids are too old to be read to anymore, but I can still recite all of the foods that made the very hungry caterpillar sick, until he ate a nice green leaf and felt much better. Their father and I read to both of them every single day. One is a reader; the other one told me that the only thing he hated more than church was reading. He was thrown out of the library when he was three. He preferred pressing his nose, tongue and all 10 fingers on the fish tank to sitting through story hour. It’s the only time I’ve ever heard a librarian use a very outside voice.

Imagine my recent surprise to see his nose in all three Hunger Games books, and not magnified on the side of a fish tank. Girls are a powerful motivator. They were reading the Hunger Games series, so the boys got in on the mania. The movie opens this Friday. Beware. There will be a dense Axe cloud over every theater in the country.

It doesn’t take long for kids to get their own minds about things. You can ban weapon toys, but it’s in boy DNA to bite a sandwich, carrot or crayon into the shape of a gun. You can pretend Britney Spears doesn’t exist, but your sweet little girl will eventually twist her shirt into a bra, and belt, “Hit me baby one more time,” into a pencil-microphone because one of her friends has an older sister who taught them the dance on a play date.

The thanklessness of parenting is precisely why the rest of us need People.com and TV, Julia Roberts. Must we all suffer because children are the latest must-have Hollywood accessory? It’s not like you got famous playing Lady Macbeth, or even a Disney princess, unless I missed the one where the princess was a prostitute who doesn’t have to turn any more tricks once the rich price saves her with his money. Maybe your new movie is up to snuff for you and your book people. How many versions of Snow White do we need anyway? But as long we each pay $10 each to see it, I’m sure you lit-tra-lee could care less.