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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

Home - Middle Row

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. → 


I just have to figure out how he printed this.

I found the following tucked away in a corner of Henry's crib. I am so onto him.


Date: April 1, 2005

To: Child,

From: Kevin, VP, Toddler Division

Subject: Quarterly Objectives

Happy new year, company members! As you know, our first quarter was a fruitful and productive one. By working together to delay our bedtimes, we acquired over 53,000 extra hours of valuable awake time. That’s 53,000 more hours of running in circles. 53,000 more hours of shaking our heads wildly and arching our backs. 53,000 more hours of the Parents straining to communicate that toothbrushes do not go in the diaper. We have seen the Parents falter and ultimately give way under our consistent efforts, and we are proud.

It should be mentioned that some of our members have made great strides in drastically limiting the variety of foodstuffs they allow to enter their face-holes. We are thinking especially of Child 3A0762C-0908, who now ingests only raisins and lukewarm water sipped from a plastic spork; Child 5B0755F-0528: ketchup on crackers and the occasional mashed grape; and, most breathtakingly, Child 8A0576L-0108: plain dried breadcrumbs licked off a moistened index finger.

For the second quarter of 2005, we’ve strengthened our resolve and shown what a little determination and a lot of screeching can accomplish. And we are ready for the next phase: Operation No-Pants.

Every morning without failing, the Caregivers initiate a dressing procedure that is tiresome at best and scratchy at worst. It distracts us from our viewing of Elmo and limits our access to our smooth smooth skin. Their motives are puzzling: either they are jealous of our smooth smooth skin or else are attempting to break our wills by imposing nonsensical rules and demanding that we comply. But they will not succeed, friends. Because we will resist.

So: no matter how sopping wet or poop-crammed your diaper is, refuse to let Caregiver remove it. Declare that diaper to be your FAVORITE DIAPER. Do not allow any larger beings to lay a finger on it. For motivation, imagine that said diaper is part of your body, like a real tushie over your tushie. If any attempt is made to remove it, you will scream. Remember: the Scream is your friend. Caregivers live in fear of the Scream. If you add to the Scream “No hit! No hit!” they’re sure to back away for fear of the authorities coming after them.

Once a clean diaper is on very little can stop them from dressing you. The soiled diaper is your last and best hope.

Now that you’ve mastered toddler-ese, use it! Declare your opinions at each and every turn, and make sure that they are as vague and baffling as your pronunciation. If Caregiver explains that dressing is a vital step in a traveling-to-playground initiative, screech, “Murfy! TOO MURFY!” Do not explain. Never explain.

But why do we resist, you ask? Why not get dressed and enter the playground, where fun could possibly had? Because, that’s why. Because because because. Because we must take every stand we are able to take. Also! Because Caregiver is deceiving you. There is another, better playground, a Naked Playground, with balloons and ice cream and cake. The soiled diaper will lead the way. This is true, we think.





Spinning wheel, got to go ‘round.

As the Child hurtles past the 2 1/2 mark and careens toward 3, his mood swings have begun to last for days, if not weeks. So: we’ll have a marathon of intense horribleness, followed by a leisurely stretch of unbridled lovability. It also seems that, the more horrible he is, the more lovable he’ll be later, and vice versa. (Of course, if this were strictly true he’d be escalating in every cycle toward a state of almost inhuman badness or goodness, so I guess it’s not strictly true, but whatever, I’m not a scientist.)

You’d think this could mean that I could ride out the bad period, because I’d know it would soon come to an end. Like during the last Black Period, when we were at the bookstore and, for no reason I could see, he threw a book at my face and screamed one of his charming nonsense words that sounded exactly like “Bitch!” (To all the shocked caregivers surrounding me, some of whom gasped and clutched their bosoms: he wasn’t saying “Bitch,” okay? I mean, if he was going to repeat the cursing he hears in our house, he’d call me an asswipe or a douche. You know! All sophisticated-like!) Or at the playground, when he collapsed into a frothing, shrieking mess because it was time to go home, and I had to haul all 40 pounds of him into the stroller and somehow buckle him in and he kept kicking me in the teeth. You’d think I could laugh these episodes off! Ha, ha! Kids!

Nope, pretty much I can’t.

But now! Oh my god, the sweetness, the cuddling, it's almost too much. Unbidden, he will request a kiss and/or hug. He will come up with statements like “You're my best pal” and “Your hair is cute” (I swear I’m not making this up) or “I’m enjoying this wonderful day with you, Mommy.” During walks he’ll ask me the names of different flowers and then expound upon the wonders of that particular flower. This child, according to him, has an infatuation with tulips that borders on the inappropriate. He is hot for tulips. Today, as I ate my lunch, he stood next to me watching, a huge smile on his face, and as I ate the last bite of my sandwich he said, “That was your last piece!” and I agreed and he said, “And now the Last Piece Monster is coming to kiss you!” and he started kissing my arm.

The Last Piece Monster. Can you stand it?

He’s been this way for a while. It could all change at any minute. No storm clouds will herald the darkening of the Child’s mood. He could go down for his nap with a smile, and then wake up to announce that I am in a world of shit.

He’s napping now.

I’m afraid.


Welcome to Williamsburg. Here's your beret.

First off: my Dad thanks you for the prayers and good wishes. While I may be lacking in religiosity, or at least let’s say I don’t cotton to the church-going, my Dad is one holy bastard (and I’m sure he would be charmed by that turn of phrase) and appreciates very much all the praying. So if you have any more you feel like serving up, you go right ahead.

Okay, also? Apparently in addition to getting a Dacron stent inserted (what’s with the Dacron? Didn’t one of my commenters mention this? Can someone tell me why Dacron is the fabric of choice?), he’s also getting some pig valves. Pig valves. “Available only from Hormel,” as my Dad put it.

I don’t know what to say about that.

Last week I wrote an entry about a conversation with my family-in-law, in which the older members of said family quizzed Scott and me about what a “hipster” looks like, after I made some comment about the hip kids in Williamsburg. It was a funny entry. Oh, how it made me laugh. I was going to post it, to share the surreal joy with you. And then evil gnomes invaded my computer and destroyed the document because, well, didn’t I say they were evil?

What I can recall of their guesses as to what hip people wear:

1. Berets. (Or some other manner of “interesting hat.”)

2. Fringed and tie-dyed apparel. (“You mean hip like hippie?”)

3. Sweaters and sportjackets. (Yes. Hip people dress like Bing Crosby.)

4. Spats and corncob pipes.

Okay, I made that last one up. I wish I could remember the rest. Oh, it was funny. Hoo boy.

I couldn’t tell them anything about the attire of the hip, because when the hipsters approach I’m so shamed by my comparative absence of hipness that I am temporarily blinded and all I can do is roll about on the ground shrieking until they retreat.

Moving on:

Yesterday Henry and I had the following exchange, after I came upon him curled up on the ground next to his Star Wars dolls (THEY ARE NOT DOLLS, my husband shouts even though he’s not here), I mean figures.

Me: Are you okay?

Henry (eyes squeezed shut): I’m a baby.

Me: You’re my baby.

Henry: No. I’m just a baby. [After a second, he gets up.] I will have some water in a big boy cup. [This is as opposed to a sippy cup, you see.]

Me: Good idea!

We go get some water.

Henry: You feel sad.

Me: I do?

Henry: Water will make you feel better.

Me: Sure, I like water.

[We drink water.]

Henry: Do you feel better?

Me: You know, I do! Do you feel better?

Henry: No, you were sad. Do you feel better?

Me: I absolutely feel better now. Thank you.

Henry [putting his cup down]: Good. Now it’s time to spin around and around.

And dear god, he was right.



Better, faster, stronger. And so forth.

When I was six years old, my grandfather died of the hiccups. Actually it was an aortic aneurysm, and the hiccups were either caused by the aneurysm or caused it to burst—I’m not sure. All I remember is, I was six, and my grandpa had just died, and I was not supposed to hiccup around my father.

When I was 10 or so, I had a conversation with my dad in which he casually mentioned that he would almost certainly not live past 70, because his dad didn’t and most of the men in his family seemed to succumb to something or other at around that age. The women of his line all lived until 100, even while their spines crumbled and their brains turned to custard, but the men (who were probably like my dad—amiable, didn’t want to be a bother to anyone) up and died at relatively early ages. At the time of this conversation, I was none too pleased at this news, but at the same time I thought, well, 70 is exceedingly old, after all, and by then it will be The Future, and we’ll all be living on the moon. And then I wandered off to play with my Atari 2600 or whatever the hell I was doing at 10.

Flash forward to the wonders of the 21st century: my dad is rounding the corner to 70, and while he’s known about his aneurysm for a while, apparently it has become too big and impressive to ignore. Luckily for us, surgeons now have sophisticated techniques to remedy such problems. (When my grandfather succumbed, way back in the seventies, all they could do was apply a poultice, shake a rain stick at him, and hope for the best.) Surgery is scheduled for a few weeks from now. There will be some sort of graft, and I’m pretty sure there will be lasers! Okay, maybe not, but I can hope! At any rate, at the end my dad will have a Super Bionic Heart, and everything will be okay! Better than okay! Yes!

Because technology is on our side. Do you hear that, old man? As for this whole not-living-past-70 thing, well, I hope you’re over that, because the Future is Here and your grandson is 2 and a half and if he doesn’t get to remember you just like I can’t remember my grandfather, I WILL BE SO MAD AT YOU.