The Truth About Parenting, From an Israeli Dad

Ohad Ouziel's new self-published book '100 Hidden Truths of Parenting' expands on his humorous blog about the real trials of being a working dad.

“You are not alone!” the teaser on the back cover reads. “Everybody hates their kids once in a while.”

Ohad Ouziel, the author of the newly released, self-published “100 Hidden Truths of Parenting,” sees himself as part of a new trend of “super-dads” – men trying to balance kids and careers – sharing their parenting experiences, or as he prefers to put it, “spitting their guts out.”

The 42-year-old Tel Avivian, a television content developer by day, is the first to admit that readers won’t find much new here in the way of parenting tips and guidance. Rather, his goal is to reassure those, who like himself are relatively new to the business of nurturing, that it’s fine to feel overwhelmed, suffocated and even grossed out by your kids.

“Parenting is not a rocket science, and I certainly didn’t discover anything new,” he says. “What I’ve attempted to do here is make light of a great experience that can also be frustrating and baffling.”

In this short collection of humorous rantings, written in English, Ouziel certainly does not hold back. An overriding theme of the book his disgust with things his kids eat and other things they excrete. There’s also lots of good-humored kvetching about having his life dictated by their sleeping patterns, or lack thereof.

Writing to get laughs runs in his blood. The author of “100 Hidden Truths” – which since its release last month has sold an impressive 1,500 hard and electronic copies on Amazon, mostly to customers in the United States – is the son of Meir Ouziel, one of Israel’s best-known satire writers, who for 30 years penned a popular weekly column in Maariv called “Shipudim” (Skewers). Ouziel seem to have not only inherited his famous father’s wit but also his distinctive long face and head of wild curls.

The most important thing he learned from his father, says Ouziel junior, is not to be afraid of writing. “What I was taught at home is there’s nothing mystical about writing – you just do it."

His foray into book-writing began, as he recalls, when he was stuck at home a few years ago tending to his two sick children, Hillel and Avigail (today aged 6 and 4, respectively) and unable to get much work done as a result. “Sick kids suck,” he vented on his Facebook page, prompting a deluge of responses and “likes” from his wide network of social-media friends. Realizing he was onto something, Ouziel began sharing his musings on parenting in daily Facebook postings, mostly one-liners, developing a bigger and bigger following as the weeks went by. When he reached “hidden parent truth” #50, he set up a designated website for his comments and decided that when he reached #100, he would compile them into a short book.

Although Hebrew is his mother tongue, Ouziel wrote the book in English because that’s the language he posts online in. His Facebook friends are largely English-speakers – many of them longtime acquaintances he met during his teenage years in Rome, where his father was stationed as a Jewish Agency envoy and where he attended a British high school.

Most of his “truths” are universal and speak as much to audiences in the United State and Europe as they do to audiences in Israel. There are some, though, that would seem to resonate more strongly here in the Jewish state. Take, for example, Hidden Truth #23: “God knows what Adam and Even did with no grandparents to help babysit.”

That’s the original Facebook postings, which like all the other postings gets a few extra lines of explanation in the book. “One of the best things to happen to you when you become a parent is that you develop a much better relationship with your own parents,” Ouziel writes in the commentary. “It’s not the sudden realization of how hard it is to raise children that makes you grateful; it’s the urgent need to dump your kids anywhere else for half an hour.”

And that’s one of the many great things about raising kids in a small place like Israel, as Ouziel notes in person: “The grandparents are never too far away.”

One step into the Ouziel family salon makes clear beyond doubt who rules here. The bookshelves are stacked with games and children’s books. A table stationed in the middle of the room boasts an impressive collection of random toy parts, missing game pieces and worn out hand puppets. And taped onto the windows overlooking the street, virtually blocking the view, are his children’s signed drawings.

His next big project is turning the book into a TV series, and with that goal in mind, he’s already put together a few trial videos starring and shot by members of the Ouziel family.

Meanwhile, when the kids start driving him crazy and all this parenting business starts cramping his style, Ouziel reminds himself of “Hidden Truth #100”: “The screaming, snot-brimming, poo-producing, food-smearing little monster is really rather nice when it climbs the couch to cuddle next to you.”

Tomer Appelbaum