Jerry O’Connell, author? You better believe it. This month, the actor and father of twin girls sold a parenting advice book to Ballantine Books called Cry, Feed, (Make Love to Wife), Burp. Just two days after announcement of his book hit the web, O’Connell joined us in a spirited chat about the book, his kids, and his wife, model Rebecca Romijn.
So your book is a parenting advice book, right?
Yea, it sort of is. I just found we had a pretty interesting story about how we had a little trouble getting pregnant, [and] how we finally got pregnant. My wife really didn’t want to work after she had the kids. And I claimed to her that I didn’t get into this marriage to marry a housewife. Part of the deal was that Rebecca worked and I worked. That was what we all entered into. So I sort of pushed my wife back into work, and my wife was like, “Well, if you’re going to push me into work, you have to stay with these kids.” So I took some time off, and it’s been pretty harrowing. But now that I’m in month 10, I do see a light at the end of the tunnel. Although it is small.
So it’s getting a little easier.
Yeah. And a couple people said, “Are you writing this stuff down?” Because I had a few funny stories. And I said, “No, I’m not really doing it.” And they said, “You should.” And I did. And I took it to Luke Dempsey [at Ballantine], and he had some funny ideas about things I should be doing. It’s going to be a lot of fun. But also, I do want to say, it’s not only about the babies. A lot of it has to do with us meeting, us trying to have kids, [because] we had a little trouble having kids. So it’s kind of going through that.
Is Rebecca helping you?
I am by no means a nonfiction writer by trade or day. I’ve read quite a bit of it. I’ve read Kathy Griffin’s books. I think they’re really funny. I read Artie Lang’s Too Fat to Fish. So this is sort of in the same vein of those. I’m not sure you’d call them memoirs as much as you’d call them anecdotal [books]. I just think it’s going to be pretty funny. Also, I’ve done something in the last few months, which is, I’ve been going to night school. That came about with me spending a few months with the girls, and really sort of losing my — not losing my mind, I don’t want to say that. I don’t want to sound like I was going to run off with a stripper or anything and say, “The kids are all yours.” But you’re really only communicating with five, six, eight-month-old beings. So you sort of lose your mind a little bit. When you’re in your 50th episode of Yo Gabba Gabba, you just have to hang around some adults. And there are only so many parents I can hang out with at the park everyday and talk to about the color of my kids’ poop. I have to talk about something else.
So I read it’s law school. Is that true?
I should say it’s night school. When my wife gets home, I head out. It’s a lighter load, it’s part-time. I was talking about this with my fellow classmates the other night, and we really felt like night school is the loophole in law school. It’s totally doable. I’m not going to be on the top of my class, I promise you that. But I’m not going to be at the bottom of it either.
Was this something you always wanted to do?
I always knew I was going to go to grad school. I knew it was going to be at some point. [I was] sort of waiting for a window, and this is it, you know? Listen, man, it’s really such a great break from the kids. I’m sorry to say that. I really enjoy hanging out with my children. Just not 24/7.
Especially with twins. One is hard enough.
You know, I’ll tell you also. It’s so much fun being a guy and getting to spend this time with the girls. What’s funny is, when my kids were really young, if guys came around the house — specifically bearded guys — the kids would freak out. The girls didn’t like men with beards.
So Santa is going to mess things up.
If they saw Santa, they would probably freak out. They wouldn’t be the first kids to freak out, though. But I’ll tell you: Since my wife went back to work — it’s been about seven months now — the same guy who’s bearded came around to our house. And the girls were not only afraid of him, but they gave him a kind of nod. And I really believe it’s because they’ve spent so much time with me over the past couple months. I just think it’s such an important time for a dad to be in a daughter’s life.
Is that the kind of story you’ll write about in the book?
Yea. They are. I have to say, I did not sell an actual manuscript. I sold a pitch of a book. Hopefully they’ll hook me up with a person who knows what they’re doing.
Are you writing it, or just relaying the stories to a writer?
I’ve written a good amount. And I think someone will read [what I wrote] and sort of help me craft them into something that’s actually readable.
So what kind of tips are you relaying to parents in the book?
It’s sort of like a pretty practical guide to how to deal with not one [kid], but two of them. Mostly stuff like dealing with poop. Things like poop, back poop, which is something I didn’t know about until I had children. It’s poop that is so powerful, it actually rests on the back of your children. Neck poop. Really powerful poop that actually shoots past the back and just goes straight for the neck. I didn’t know poop could actually get on one neck.
The more you know…
Yea. But funny things about putting them to sleep. I have to say, my wife is going to have her reactions to all this as well. So I think it’s going to be a little bit he said/she said. Just a little.
That’s fun. So you’ll get that perspective in there.
Yea. I don’t think my wife wants it to be Stories by Jerry. I think my wife really wants to have her say as well. Because my wife is very much a part of it all as well.
What will your kids think when they’re old enough to read about their neck poop?
Oh, I think they’ll laugh. They’re good girls.
You’re raising them with a sense of humor.
Yea. They definitely have a sense of humor. One is a little bit more diabolical than the other, but they’ll definitely be funny.
You’re going to school, but you’re still going to act. What’s going to happen after you get a degree?
If I ever do graduate — and if I ever do pass the bar, which will shock not only me, but my professors as well — I’m going to do something. I’m going to help somebody who can’t afford a lawyer. When you’re in law school, you realize, man, the legal world is just so confusing to students of law, let alone to the public. So, I mean, I’m definitely going to do something where I’m going to help somebody translate all this craziness.
When do you think you’ll finish the book?
I don’t know. A few months?
That’s a pretty quick turnaround.
What I want to do is I want to finish it, and then we’re going to something where I’m going to go through it with my wife and my wife is going to say, “No, that’s not what happened.”
The title is humorous. Was it your idea?
It was a couple of us. It was one of my agent’s assistant, who had an idea, it sort of rolled from there. In all honestly, I was rooting for, Let’s Stay Together for the Kids.
That’s a little negative.
I know, that’s what everyone else thought.
What are you hoping that parents get out of the book?
When my wife was pregnant and hanging out at home, there were about three dozen baby books in our house that my wife had purchased. I was told to read all of them. I coulnd’t get through one of them. I’d like it to be a book that a guy like me, when his wife is expecting, it’s something that I would have been able to get through. They just didn’t interest me in any way whatsoever.
How will your book be different? Humor?
I think it’s humor. It’s more of me warning people against things, as opposed to being told what is the right way to do things. Me cautioning people about what to expect as opposed to being scolded or told what to do, and what is the ultimate right way.
So some folks thought the book was a memoir. And it’s not, right?
I’m not penning a memoir. It’s one of these baby books, but told through the eyes of someone who knows absolutely nothing about babies. I know nothing about babies. I’m not sure if I touched a baby in my adult life. But I’m an expert now. And honestly, you want to know what’s so funny, is I’d always see parents come and grab my kids and be like, “Gie me that kid!” And change diapers and everything. And I’d think, God, did they take the parent-baby class at YMCA? Then you realize once you have kids, all you want to do is just grab babies and change them.
Like, randomly walk down the street and grab a baby?
Oh yea. “Give me that kid. You’re doing it all wrong.”