In a house teeming with five kids ages 10 and under, Lea Geller always has a story to tell.
“Everybody would say to me, ‘You need to write this down.’ So I did. I just started.”
Last year, Geller’s Wordpress blog “This is the Corner We Pee In” got picked up by ParentMap magazine. “In some ways this is so easy, so organic,” she says of the blogging process. “I love it.”
So do her readers. Geller won ParentMap’s reader-powered 2012 Golden Teddy award for parent blogs, right alongside New York Times bestselling author Jenny Lawson.
“I started with this one story,” she says, about how she discovered that her two sons were peeing in a corner of the rec room, instead of tearing themselves away from the television to use the bathroom. Since then, Geller has been pounding out post after hilarious post about her children’s amusing antics, their confrontations with society at large, and their preoccupation with pee. Lots and lots of pee.
“If I have to clean up after it, I get to write about it,” she says.
Take the time, just last week, when one son supposedly hypnotized himself on the computer and crashed through a living room window, or earlier this summer, when the boys left a cup of urine at the top of the stairs so a visiting dog “will know us when she smells us!” or the time she caught her children conducting self-breast exams in the backseat of the minivan. (“Nipples!”)
And while Geller, 39, and her husband Michal most frequently have to do damage control for their two sons, ages 10 and 8, they also have three daughters, ages 6, 4 and 2, the youngest of whom has a penchant for yacking in the car. After an unfortunate vehicular resurgence of hot chocolate from her youngest, Geller, in her brutally honest style, writes:
She is the fifth child. I have no spare clothes for her. The kid is lucky if she gets a daily diaper change. So after I use the two dried-out baby wipes I have in the car to clean up, I take her up to the doctor. In nothing but a diaper. We are both whimpering and smell like puke.
“Michal says I was talking about five [kids] when we were dating. I don’t remember,” Geller says. Once she got started, she figured she’d keep going. “I would let the [first] birthday happen, then I would start the lobbying.”
The Gellers live in Seward Park and attend Sephardic Bikur Holim Congregation. When she’s not writing or getting her children out of pickles, Geller is jogging the Seward Park loop or working part-time from home for a law firm in California, where she spent much of her life and attended law school at Stanford. Originally from England, she peppers her blog with Britishisms (“Get off the bloody roof!”) and sharp, dry wit.
This summer, Geller finally realized a dream: She took the kids to spend a month in Cannes.
“They got to experience another city,” she says. “It really wasn’t about schlepping around and seeing every site in the south of France.” They spent their days on the beach, in parks, and, of course, getting into mischief.
“You want the things that are important to you to be important to them,” she expounds.
“They’re not Springsteen fans, one of them might be a Republican, but they will all like France. I’ll be damned if I can’t pass France.”
To boot, it made for good material. Her kids got to experience the French art of topless bathing, thongs, and the notorious French dislike for enfants terribles americains.
Geller does not try to give parenting advice, and brushes off the saturated parenting book market. “Now there’s an industry. A lot of these books have one thesis and spend 200 pages [talking about it],” she says.
Regarding her own style, “I have a strong personality,” she says. She speaks frankly and honestly to her children. “Sometimes that works really well; sometimes I fail miserably,” she says.
It’s the failures that sometimes make for the funniest stories, she adds.
As for her next baby — no, Geller resolved this Jewish New Year not to have any more — will it be a book?
“I’ve got a couple of ideas,” she says. “I just start doing something, and either it falls apart or it works.”