Saturday, June 18, 2011
Go The F*** To Sleep: My Thoughts, Part 1
My first baby didn't believe in sleep.
In fact, I'm absolutely convinced that she slept in 20 minute-increments for the first 6 months of her life. And even as she got older, and slept for longer periods of time once I finally got her to go to sleep, she still fought naptime and bedtime as if her life depended on it.
She just wasn't a baby who needed a lot of sleep, and she was not about to let anybody else tell her when she was tired. Even if her mother was a walking zombie for the first 2 years of her life.
Now, of course, at age 7, she sleeps like a rock (once she's been convinvced that bedtime has arrived and is, in fact, non-negotiable).
And I was blessed with a second child who loves his sleep and drags me to the bedroom in the evening if I keep him up too late. Small miracles.
Which is not to say that he wasn't a typical baby/toddler who would sometimes be randomly awake at 3 A.M. leaving me wanting to scream "Go the f*** to sleep!!"
Just as I had wanted to scream at his sister.
So when I first heard about Adam Mansbach's new book, aptly titled Go The F*** To Sleep, I knew I was going to find it hilarious.
It looks like a children's book, and reads like a children's book.
Please note: it is NOT a children's book.
Listen to the audio version for yourself.
So what do you think? Are you falling off your chair laughing?
Or do you have concerns?
My first reaction to Go The F*** To Sleep was that it's pretty f***ing brilliant. I mean, it's funny because it's true, and comedy is, after all, only tragedy made bearable.
I think that we as parents appreciate the book so much because it voices some of our darkest thoughts out loud, and allows us to breathe a collective sigh of relief as we realize that we aren't completely alone in our occasional desperation.
If anything, we're normal to have these fleeting thoughts.
Some bloggers, though, like Greek Momma, have suggested that parents need to just "grow the f*** up," and that the tone of the book completely belittles the child and fails to realize and accommodate his needs. That parents who think this is funny are just being selfish, or more dangerously, "hiding their anger under a veil of humor or sarcasm."
Point taken. And there's probably some validity to it.
But Go The F*** To Sleep isn't even remotely a how-to book or parenting manual. If anything, it's a cathartic release for parents who are struggling to contain their darker impulses. I just don't see laughing at this book as hiding your anger. If anything, I see the laughter as one more coping mechanism in our parenting arsenal.
Our laughter doesn't mean that we don't care about our own children, or that we don't try to determine the very real reasons why they can't sleep when this drama plays out in our own homes. But it does mean that we're only human. And that we can appreciate the desire to make it all go away for just a few hours.
Parenting is an exhausting, life-altering journey that threatens to sap every ounce of energy that we possess. Most of us give and give and give to our children. We make a habit of forgetting about ourselves.
It isn't passive-aggressive to occasionally think negative thoughts, or to desperately wish that our children would go to sleep and leave us with a few minutes peace. It's normal.
Sure, we probably shouldn't act on it. I'm not suggesting that we should actually be the parents who say these words to our children.
But I say that we can sure as hell go ahead and laugh about it.
Because if we don't laugh, we just might have to f***ing cry.
After I finished this post, I came across an interesting article at Babble in which Amy Sohn suggests that the reaction to Go The F*** To Sleep would have been entirely different had the book been written by a woman. She makes some excellent points, so I'm going to have to revisit this post with a Part 2.