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December 28, 2006

Book Tour, Redux

From our TLC archive, March 2006:

by Nancy Martin

You can say things from behind the wheel of a car you'd never say face-to-face. My mother explained the facts o'life to me on a trip to the grocery store. (It was after a local junior high student was raped and murdered by her math teacher, but let's save the discussion of potential psychological not to mention mathmatical damage of that kind of timing for another blog, shall we?) My mother employed the driving technique so she wouldn't have to look me in the eye while I considered what she and my very dignified, tie-wearing, conservative father did when their bedroom door was locked.

I used the same technique with my daughters, too. Worked like a charm. At least from my perspective. Maybe they're still reeling from the shock, but I don't think so.

When we did the college search, I drove my daughters all over the eastern seaboard looking at schools from UNC Chapel Hill, through Yale and Harvard all the way to Williams, and it was my last chance, I thought, to do some mothering. We talked about everything. Things we'd have a hard time saying here at TLC---no, wait, Sarah's blog on Tuesday pretty much broke those barriers, huh?

Anyway, now that I'm on a book tour, and my media escort--that's her preferred title--is my 24-year-old daughter Sarah, the other foot is on the gas pedal, and she's telling me stuff about her life, her friends, her relationships, and her post-graduation plans while my face does things I'm so glad she can't see.

Before we set off on this trip, my husband took me aside and said firmly, "You're going to have to give up some control."

After all, Sarah's 24 and has traveled internationally more than I have, and she's giving up her spring break to haul her mother all over Ohio and Kentucky, so she ought to be allowed to be the boss now and then. As a result, this trip is a breeze compared to last year's Bataan Death March.

Until now, I have disapproved of those writers who hire their kids to work for them. You know who I mean. Their sons and daughters design graphics, maintain websites, arrange tours, do PR, etc. etc. I felt that kind of thing was unfair to the children. It held them back from making their own way in the world.

Maybe it does.

But there's nobody else who can say in the 2 seconds before a TV camera rolls, "Get the spinach out of your teeth." Or today's "You need a mint, Mother." When we were lost in the search for a particularly well-hidden Barnes & Noble: "Calm down. You can't panic over every little thing." There's nobody else you can trust completely. Nobody who will be totally, brutally, honest when you really need it. Not even your mom. Certainly not your husband who never hesitates, never even looks up from the newspaper anymore when you ask, "Does this make me look fat?" He says without a blink, "You look fine." It's your kid you can count on to be blunt. Your kid will make you change your outfit.

Plus she's doing all the driving. (Like me, she has an appreciation for the Silver Bullet, and she puts him through his paces.)                  

She does the navigating, the collecting of business cards when I forget, the ferreting out all the paperback copies of CROSS YOUR HEART AND HOPE TO DIE which seem to be stashed all over the stores. She lugs the gift bags and carries HAVE YOUR CAKE AND KILL HIM TOO so the cover faces oncoming pedestrians. She has good sense. Incredible computer skills. Impeccable manners. A sweet smile, but a ruthless soul when it comes to protecting her mom. (That's me!) Plus she's great company in the car. We've been laughing since we left the driveway. I should give up some control, because she deserves my respect now. Not all the control, of course, but I'm doing my best.

Book tour? Oh, yes, it's been great so far, too. We've hit lots of stores, and my books are front and center, believe it or not. It's all good. But the mother-daughter bonding is the best part of the trip.

See you on the flip side.



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Remember these lyrics from an old George Clooney television show?

You take the good, you take the bad,
you take them both and there you have
The Facts of Life, the Facts of Life.
There's a time you got to go and show
You're growin' now you know about
The Facts of Life, the Facts of Life.
When the world never seems
to be livin up to your dreams
And suddenly you're finding out
the Facts of Life are all about you, you.
It takes a lot to get 'em right
When you're learning the Facts of Life. (learning the Facts of Life)
Learning the Facts of Life (learning the Facts of Life)
Learning the Facts of Life.

Nancy, I just hope both my career and my M3 are around long enough for Anna to drive me on a book tour.

I LOVE this post!

Good one. I've taken to putting on WDVE in the morning when I take my daughter to school. It's our local rock station and they have a really funny morning team. It generates all kinds of great discussion points that she would sooner die than address face to face.

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