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Let's Panic: The Book!

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How to Endure and Possibly Triumph Over the Adorable Tyrant
who Will Ruin Your Body, Destroy Your Life, Liquefy Your Brain,
and Finally Turn You
into a Worthwhile
Human Being.

Written by Alice Bradley and Eden Kennedy

Some Books
I'm In...

Sleep Is
For The Weak

Chicago Review Press

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Let's Panic

The site that inspired the book!

At LET'S PANIC ABOUT BABIES, Eden Kennedy and I share our hard-won wisdom and tell you exactly what to think and feel and do, whether you're about to have a baby or already did and don't know what to do with it. → 

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I am not adjusting to this post-spring break return to normal life. Waking up at seven is for chumps. Trying to convince a six-year-old to get up at seven, also, is an activity best reserved for chumps. I bet chumps enjoy this sort of pastime. What is a chump, anyway? That sounds odd the more I write it. Chump chump chump. Who wants to look up the etymology of "chump"? I do!

1703, "short, thick lump of wood," akin to O.N. kumba "block of wood." Meaning "blockhead" is first attested 1883.

There you go. Thank you, Etymology Online Dictionary.

At any rate, our schedule's all weird and none of us are getting enough sleep, both because we're getting up at SEVEN and more importantly because I'm getting up at FOUR-THIRTY, when my son calls for me from his bed. When I say "calls," I mean "screams as loudly as he possibly can, which is awfully loud, by the way." My child can project. He gets scared (at 4:30 a.m., inconveniently) and wants to scare me, I guess, so that I might empathize with his plight. I hurtle myself toward his bedroom, half-asleep, and he says "I'm scared" and I mutter something impatient and yet semi-soothing and I put on some quiet music for him and pet his head for a bit. Then I lurch back to bed and discover that I am completely awake; there is no getting back to sleep for me. But I cannot accept this, so I lie there, listening to my husband snoring and my dog snoring and my cat making squeaky sleeping noises and I decide that they are all awful and selfish because they are asleep and I am not.

And then I fall asleep. At 6:30. So that's fun.

Yesterday I volunteered at Henry's school for the second time. The first time I inadvertently caused a head-to-head collision between two of the four children I had been given possession of. We were going about the school with magnets, finding metal objects they would stick to, and did you know that four children are surprisingly hard to corral? Parents of four or more children, I do not know how you do it. Teachers, you are like gods to me. Getting four children to follow me around the school was like herding cats. Rabid, insane cats. And one of them was my own child. This one would go this way and the other one would go that way and the third would start climbing the ceiling and it was nuts. I caught this one boy's attention by raising a magnet above his head, and he leapt for it, crashing down such that his skull went into the eye socket of one of the girls, who crumpled to the ground. I considered making a run for it. They can never prove I was here, I thought. No, I didn't; why do I make stuff up? I tried to stay calm but I wanted to cry while this adorable girl whimpered "I want my Mum" (she's Australian, by the way, and it turns out that in Australia they make incredibly sweet-faced youngsters for whom you would turn back time and move them three inches to the side so that no injury could ever befall them). I wondered what in hell I was going to do, now that we were across the (large) school from her classroom and I didn't know where the nurse's office was. My first day volunteering and I had broken a kid. What would the other parents say?

I eventually got her up and moving and she sobbed her way back to the classroom, and I might have sniffled a little as well, but the teacher was unimpressed. "Take her to the nurse," she directed the little boy whose skull had caused her injury, and he did, and it turned out she was fine. And I realized I made the right choice, never becoming a teacher. I do not have a heart made of steel. And I mean that in the most respectful way. Those teachers, they have to be tough as nails.

Anyway, yesterday I just had a math game to play with some kids, and I managed not to damage any of them, so I felt pretty good about it. Then I went home and napped for three hours. Which is another reason I could never be a teacher: the schedule discourages hours of mid-day napping.

Reader Comments (38)

As a former teacher, I can say that the reason I can't go back is because of the lack of napping. There aren't even naps in Kindergarten anymore, so a teacher napping in the back of the room looks really bad.
April 22, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMegsie
Alice, you are hilarious. I didn't start reading this blog until a few months ago, and I just realized that you were probably at Heather Armstrong's book signing last year in Brooklyn. Had I read you then, I would have worshiped you and Heather both simultaneously, so I hope this comment makes up for any praise I didn't give you at Soda that day.
April 22, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterSarah Romeo
I used to teach high school English (Shakespeare at 7:15 am? Fifteen year olds love it) so I have a lot of admiration for anyone willing to herd rabid, insane cats.
April 22, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterKaren Dietrich
Hahaha! I just found your blog through Mom101 and man did that make me laugh!
April 22, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterEmily
When I was teaching high school English, I came home EVERY day and took at least a 2 hour nap. Because it was that bad. Granted, I was single, no kids, so that made getting a nap easier, but teaching truly exhausted me. (It gave me an ulcer in under 9 weeks too, but that's a different story.)
April 22, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMary
I get up every day at 4:30am for work, so I really feel for you! It's just not right to be awakened at that time of day....a little piece of me dies every time the alarm goes off. Although it's better than being scared to death by my son's screams, surely.

Thank you, as always, for giving me a reason to laugh in the middle of my no-naps-allowed-but-I-got-up-at-4:30am-and-I'm-exhausted workday!

April 22, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterBeth
Oh, I can empathize! I have 3 kids at home, and that is a lot like herding cats too. I stopped volunteering at the school when my oldest was in 1st garde. A few times in Kindergarten and once or twice in 1st and I knew I hated small children and never wanted to be surrounded by them again. So I prompty got pregnant and followed that one closely with another. So see? Kids make you crazy. They take away your ability to make sound decisions! Instead of volunteering in person, send in stuff they need in class. Snacks, paper, boxes of crayons, whatever the teacher asks for. Stay away though!
April 22, 2009 | Unregistered Commentersevedra
As a mom of a six month old (who is up every 3 hrs. during the night to nurse-- STILL), a three year old (who cries out often for various reasons: new pillow, underwear tag is itchy, drink of water) and a former teacher (now an at-home mom, taking graduate classes which prevent napping during the time my kids nap), I can totally relate.Good post.PS Teachers have eyes in the back of their heads. And they are constantly listening. That's how we do it ;)
April 22, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterSheryl
After volunteering at school parties, I also realized I could never be a teacher. I would long for my quiet office and an afternoon nap. After some pain reliever for the noise-induced headache.
April 22, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAngela Williams Duea
*laughing so hard* I have taught all the primary grades and I am always amazed when parents are terrified by a birthday party with eight kids for a couple of hours and cake.

Thank you for a wonderful post, I plan to forward it to the teachers I know.
April 22, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJocelyne
When my daughter was in kindergarten I volunteered to help the children make sock puppet dinosaurs. I took them three or four at a time to a little workstation we'd set up in the hallway where there were things like buttons, googly eyes, and scraps of felt. The kids could arrange them on their socks, then I'd hot glue them on. I told every kid to show me where they wanted something, then keep their hands off because the glue could burn. 14 kids followed instructions ok, but then number 15 said "you mean I'm not supposed to touch it" and stuck his finger right on the button I'd just glued on, which, of course, had hot glue oozing up through the button holes. At just that moment, the office came over the PA system telling the kindergarten teachers it was time to take all their kids to the auditorium for a program, so the doors all open, kids and teachers come streaming out, and this one is WAILING and screaming "what did you do to me!" I thought for sure one of the teachers would turn me in for child abuse.
April 22, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterLoonytick Skook
Oh yes teachers are gods. And I think they develop a sick sense of humor that elevates them to godliness. Once I volunteered in my daughter's 5th grade classroom. I was given a bunch of boys to do math with. One of the teachers looked over, and then began to laugh. "I'm so sorry", she said, still laughing, "We've given you all the dyslexics. Hahahahha." Note she did not change the group I'd been assigned...
April 22, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterLPC
I happen to have two cats (insane but not rabid) and know that herding them is nigh to impossible. But, apparently, if you shake keys at them, they think they're going to get treats and run into the apartment (they are obsessed with the hallway, it's a long story). The cats wear me out so I can't even imagine having one child, let alone 4.

As for the being frightened by a birthday party with 8 or more children, at my nephew's birthday partys I am assigned the job of determining who provided what present. This involves sitting next to my nephew while thousands of children descend upon him like starving locusts with presents (an odd analogy but it works). I am convinced my sister does this to make sure I stick firm with my decision to remain childless.
April 22, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterDM
Oh my. I just laughed and laughed and cried a little because the whole paragraph about waking up at 4:30 to comfort a crying child and then not being able to fall back to sleep and thinking the world is an awful place and your family the cruelest people on the face of the earth for sleeping when you can't? That is exactly my life. Probably 5 out of 7 days a week. I hear ya, sista!
April 22, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterShannon
Oh, OH, how I hate waking up any time past 4:00 but before any sort of decent wake-up time...I, too, can never get back to sleep, or do fall asleep just as others are just getting in their showers. I'm pregnant and wake up, like, a dozen times a night to pee, and I do my darndest not to look at the clock each time I get out of/back to bed, hoping that I can just close my eyes and pretend like I have 7 hours of beautiful sleep ahead of me....
April 22, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterEmily
Ugh. I hate when the early morning wake ups happen. I texted my friend the other day about something random- and she replied, "I've been awake since FIVE and this is my second pot of cofffee." She has a one year old and I have a two year old, both of them decided, this month, that neither of their moms need sleep.

Your blog is awesome!
April 22, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJasmine
I can relate on so many levels!First, I am a preschool teacher and, I SWEAR, my 3's this year are feral. They were all raised by wolves!Second, my sleep went in much the same way through about 39 weeks of my second pregnancy. But, oh Alice, you are so sweet. Over at my house, with the hormones, my husband would be woken up with me. He would say, "What?!? Am I just supposed to stop breathing?" "Well......why? Are you volunteering? Cuz that would actually be great."
April 22, 2009 | Unregistered Commentermomma2731
You are hilarious. I am in total agreement with you on the bravery and strength of parents of four or more kids/teachers.
April 22, 2009 | Unregistered Commenteramanda
Soooo, tomorrow morning at 4:30, give me a call. I'll be up since I'll have just come in from my daughter's room. I'll be up, awake in bed staring at the ceiling, until around 6:11, when I will drop suddenly into a coma-like sleep. Because my kids get up at 6:30.Does it help at ALL to know you're not alone? Sometimes, right?Jennifer
April 22, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJennifer txmomof3
I'm so freakin' exhausted that on that last post, I forget to include my website url, where I go on and on about sleepless nights.Jennifer (again)
April 22, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJennifer txmomof3
... and then you get through all that feeding and nightmares and wet beds (kids, not mine), and you're a 63 year old, when you suddenly start going to the loo in the small hours and then lying there worrying about stuff, and they tell you that you don't NEED eight hours anymore. Pah!
April 22, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterDi Foden
I volunteered to plan/run my 2nd grader's class Valentine's Day party this year. Being crazy, I did Internet research and came up with three Very Fun Games, including One For Boys. Which, of course, the boys turned their noses up at. The craft, which seemed easy, was too tricky for them. The Valentine's Bingo went too fast. The teachers glowered at me for encouraging their children to spread glitter, google-eyes and pom poms everywhere. I entered triumphant and I left defeated.

Next year, I'm going to volunteer to wash the white boards for a couple of weeks instead.
April 23, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterLynn @ human, being
Don't know what is worse: bloodcurdling 4.30am screams of mortal terror or my 4-year old's tactic, which goes a little like this:

[total silence in the house but for the rhythmic breathing of me/husband/cat and gentle ticking of soothing bedside clock]

[enter piercing voice from out of nowhere]

April 23, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterNicola Proctor
Having been raised by educators, I humbly put forth the idea that teachers are different (tougher, nobler, wiser) breed of human altogether. As a kid I wasn't such a fan - hello, there was no lie I could tell my parents they couldn't see through, no disciplining situation they weren't calmly prepared to handle - but now I think that teaching for a year or two could be the best pre-parenting training available.

Also: love love love the Etymology Online Dictionary.
April 23, 2009 | Unregistered Commentergreyfavorite
Alice, I watched the momversation video where you guys chatted about being "green".

On the subject of Seltzer, now that you're back in Brooklyn, there are two really great options you might think about.

1) The seltzer man- delivers beautiful glass bottles and picks them up to be refilled. (I am sure you have heard of him. I can get you his number if you need it.)

2) At the food coop they sell a home seltzer making machine from this company now- You can also order one online. I have one. It is amazing. You can adjust carbonation from low to super super mouth burningly high, and there is no waste. Return your co2 cartridges at the PSFC for new ones if you're a member, or through the website if not.

Delicious. I swear.



April 23, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMolly

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