Thundering Sneakers: A Book Review

This is a bit lengthy; my regulars can feel free to skip or skim.
Thundering Sneakers, by Prudence Mackintosh, is basically a compilation of articles that she wrote in the 70’s for Texas Monthly about the joys and humor of raising her three boys. Does everyone want to know what “thundering sneakers” could possibly mean? Maybe I should make you read the book and find out for yourselves. I don’t know if I found the book to be so humorous because a) I’m just glad these outrageous things haven’t happened to me (yet), or b) I’m getting good at knowing that even our family’s bad days will have their funny parts down the road when I look back.
The book is divided into three parts: part one looks like a collection of memories of the children before any were in school, part two begins reminiscing when the oldest starts first grade, and the final part shares chapters that showcase each child, the husband, and the father-son relationship they have.
I could relate to the first part most, I think because mine are all still that young, and the mishaps she shares are happening on our Center Street Stage daily. It truly was easy to identify with her and her struggles, in spite of this being written 30 years ago. Many things about being a mom never change.
The chapter about her her third son, William, in part three, was special to me. In her day, when two children were the average, she (in jest) called it “a perilous venture” to have a third child, and went on to describe the many joys William contributed to their lives. In our family, our children find welcoming each new sibling to be more and more exciting, the more we have. It is as Prudence once heard someone say, “Ain’t it funny how some babies jus’ show up bein’ comp’ny.”
Some descriptions she gives of clothing and decor date the book, but the overall purpose is timeless. I believe the purpose of Prudence’s book was to share that “life with children must be appreciated in the process.” Hoping for the next day, or grieving over what could have been- neither attitude works for a mother during those years she is at home caring for her children. One must be content in the moment, and look for the many things there are that bring joy and laughter right now, for this moment will soon fade into the next moment. Good advice I constantly need to hear.
Among the many thoughts shared in the book, Prudence mentioned two issues that still linger today as matters of debate- women pursuing careers instead of staying home with their children, and the erosion of community. It was a bit ominous reading her words because, back in 1970, these were relatively new concerns, and now the two situations are so much worse.
Her thoughts on mothers staying home:
“Now I’m all for women developing competency and self-reliance, but…Anyone who has worked longer than a year knows that eventually any job loses most of its glamour. And the world is no less “real” at home. For that matter, mothers at home may be more “real” than bankers or lawyers…How can reading a balance sheet compare with comforting a five year old who holds his limp cat and wants to know why we have to lose the things we love?”
What is changing about her neighborhood:
“There is no doubt that we are becoming a more affluent neighborhood… we tend to buy our privacy, not neighborhood togetherness… As the cost of heating and cooling has climbed, we are less likely to leave the kitchen door open… we enclosed the side porch. We needed the extra room and gave little thought to the role that porches play in binding neighborhoods. Neighbors who wouldn’t think of knocking on your front door for an informal visit can see you on a porch and not feel that they are imposing… fenced backyards are becoming almost compulsory… Locked in their own backyard, little boys might miss the… chance to retch and gag when the teenage girl across the street kisses her boy friend goodbye after school.”
For the most part, I enjoyed this book. Every once in a while I would tire of the attitude she conveyed that ‘this is how I hoped to raise these boys, but this is how it really turned out, and I couldn’t do anything about it’. The latter piece of that is what gets me. Yes, children will act out and surprise us from time to time, but for the most part, the product shows what we put into it. She could have done things differently in some scenarios, and wouldn’t have had such chaotic results. She was not so helpless as she tried to make herself out to be. But, as she said in her preface, she “never attempted to offer final solutions or pediatric advice-only the solace of shared experience.” If I look at the book with this in mind, I have to admit that she was quite successful.

5 Replies to “Thundering Sneakers: A Book Review”

  1. Great review! I know some of the antics and mayhem my ONE son creates could fill a book…he is my joy, my son…cracks me up!

  2. Great review. You finished that quickly! I was raised in the ’60’s so I think this would be an interesting read just to see all the changes from what I remember from one decade to the next.

  3. “The solace of shared experience” is a lovely phrase and I think it’s one thing that draws us to blog-hopping.

    I like Texas Monthly (I’m a Texan, but don’t live there), so this is all very interesting. Thanks.

  4. This is a wonderful review. Who is the picture of? He’s adorable! I loved “One must be content in the moment, and look for the many things there are that bring joy and laughter right now, for this moment will soon fade into the next moment.” It’s so true and inspirational, right up my alley. This book sounds like something I need to check out, thanks for letting me know the review was up and thanks for reviewing! =)

  5. The phrase ‘solace of shared experience’ really resonated with me. In fact, I jotted it down, for further contemplation. Great book review, I’m so glad you dropped by with the link!

    ~TaunaLen

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