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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. → 



The other night Scott and I were knitting or polishing our muskets or whatever it is we do after Henry’s gone to bed when we heard a sound coming from his room. It sounded like there was an animal in there. Like the animal was dying loudly and painfully. That animal is going to wake up Henry, I thought; that animal should keep his suffering to his own self. “Is Henry moving the furniture?” asked Scott. Then I realized what it was: CROUP! The dreaded CROUP!

“Turn on the shower!” I shrieked as I ran to save my toddler. “Yes!” replied Scott as he ran to the bathroom. “Orp! Orp orp!” barked Henry, who was standing up in his crib and waving his arms at me. “Orp!”

Next thing I knew, the three of us were crammed in the steamy bathroom, our hairs becoming frizzy, our clothing damp. The child was none too happy. One minute he’s sleeping peacefully, and the next he can’t breathe and he’s forced to take a shvitz with these crazy people. “What do we do now!” Scott asked. “Um!” I replied. “Get thee into a steamy bathroom” was the only directive I recalled about what to do with CROUP! I had rather thought the minute we steamed him up, Henry would calm down and commence to breathing. Instead he continued his barky tirade while we tried to sing him songs (he wasn’t having it) or tell him stories (he now saw that our stories lacked a compelling narrative thrust).

Finally we found some books he would tolerate and we read as we watched the paint mildew and the towels become sodden. And lo, the child did breathe. And there was much delight. Actually there was much fatigue, and the child awakened every couple of hours to let us know that he was still pretty miserable. At one point he woke up and attempted to comfort himself back to sleep by singing—and I wish I was making this up—“You are My Sunshine.” There is nothing more pathetic than a toddler with laryngitis croaking, “Please don’t take my sunshine a-waaay.” All we needed was a shot of a deflated ball wobbling across an empty playground, and we would have an excellent public-service ad for, well, something or other. Do I have to think of everything?

Also, did you know that if you leave an inch of water in the humidifier and then pack it away in the closet, things will grow in there? Did you know this is an exceedingly stupid thing to do? While I was in the bathroom reading Cars and Trucks and Cars on top of Trucks to Henry, my husband was in the kitchen, scrubbing the humidifier with bleach and vinegar and cursing. I tried to think of someone to blame for this stupid move, but probably it was me.

Last night there was more CROUP! And oh, was Henry weary of the steamy-bathroom routine. He was not enjoying the fun-adventureness of it. The change-of-routine appeal was entirely lost on him. He just wanted to bark in peace in the comfort of his bed.

Right now the child is at the doctor with his father, while I am hard at work. And as soon as I finish this and make myself more tea and then after I check my email a few times, I am so going to start working, I swear it. My deadlines are demanding that I work more than blog for the next couple of weeks, so if posting is light(er), I beg your forgiveness in advance.

In conclusion: CROUP!




Henry has recently discovered that nothing is funnier than the nonsense words. And using them constantly, to the exclusion of any other words that might render communication easy or even possible, is the absolute pinnacle of hilarity. In a matter of weeks this child’s every sentence, especially when he’s feeling jovial, is a barrage of whimsical coinages. Wackiest of all is, of course, any neologism that has POOP in it or rhymes with POOP or, hell, just is POOP—okay, so it’s not a new word, but it’s POOP, people! It’s comedy gold!

So: Hey, Henry, what do you want for lunch? “Poop shloopy! Poopy shloopers! I want BLOOT SMOOT with POOP!” Very good. Want to go to the park? “No, I will BOOFA to the POOF. I want to SPOOF to the LOOFA. And MEPAP. Luffa spuffa. Borf!” And oh, how we laugh. Truly, he is a gifted comedian.

Although this can get old real fast, it can also come in handy, like when we went to the doctor again today because the rash went away but then it came back and I’m trying not to think about bedbugs please god don’t let it be that. We were ushered from the waiting room, with its toys and books and overall fun-time atmosphere, into a cold and dull exam room, where we waited for approximately twelve hours, and yet Henry managed to entertain himself the entire time with his wordplay.

Between his fits of verbal tomfoolery he quizzed me on what exactly was happening. Here he was, stripped down to his altogether, waiting on a paper-covered bench for—what, exactly? “What’s the doctor gonna do?” he demanded to know.

“She’s going to look at your rash and say, ‘What a beautiful boy,’” I said. Not adding, “Except for that grotesque rash covering your arms and legs.”

So when the doctor came in, he gave her a minute to look him over and then he commanded, “Say ‘What a beautiful boy.’” Which she did, because she’s no fool, and he beamed and said, “Now say, ‘What a poopy fooper! SAY IT.”

Then the doctor handed me the name of a dermatologist while I begged her to tell me it wasn’t bedbugs and Henry held his hands to his ears and shouted “I can hear me in my head!” He may be suffering, but still he entertains.

ALSO: You may notice that I now have Google ads on my site. I said I would never do it, and then I did it. According to Google, so far I've made $0.00. So please--won't you click? I want those half-pennies to start coming my way! And you want me to post more, don't you? Don't you? Hello? Anyone?


Note to my neighbors: What you heard through the pipes in your bathroom was not what you thought you heard.

During tonight’s pre-dinner hand-scrubbing, Henry was playing with two small plastic balls. The joy he felt at being allowed to bring these balls with him to the sink prompted the following series of enthusiastic declarations.

I’m going to wash my balls!

My balls are all wet now.

My balls are so slippery! Slippery with soap.

I will rinse my balls.

My balls are all nice and dry.

Now my balls are so clean.

Thank you and goodnight.


The Verdict

First of all: I had no idea so many people had such strong thoughts about the city vs. the suburbs. You all scare me a little, but it’s a good kind of fear. I love you. Don’t hurt me.

So this weekend we drove to the UNNAMED SUBURB in New Jersey. (I don’t know why I’m not revealing the location. Maybe I’m afraid their town council will read this and come to my home with pitchforks? Maybe I just like to be difficult?) We had time to kill before our realtor appointment, so we got some lunch and wandered around the village square. What can I say about it? It was a village square. There were Cute Shoppes, and Not-So-Cute Shoppes, and some people who looked like people we could be friends with, and then other people who were probably nice too except they looked maybe a little inbred, and I'm sure that's not their fault so I shouldn't judge but I don't want to live near them there I said it. (You’d think, the way I’m talking, that we live some kind of Prospect Heights: The Musical! existence, in which we do-si-do'd with our neighbors every time we went out to catch the train. Like there are no weird people in Brooklyn. Frankly this should be the borough’s motto. “Brooklyn: Where the weird people are at!” Except I think it’s something like “The borough that loves you back” or something equally creepy.)

As we looked about, our emotions were running high. “This town doesn’t make me want to kill myself as much as I thought it would! I think!” I would say. “If that home up there had a broken picket fence I would impale myself upon it immediately,” my husband would reply. And then we’d wander some more, and it would be my turn to despair. “Don’t make me live here,” I’d whisper, and by then Scott would be squeezing my hand and saying, “No! This could be okay! Look, I see a comic-book store!”

It was like that for a while. Then we met with the realtor, a lovely woman who showed us every single home that has ever been built, ever. Did you sense a presence in your home? Yeah, that was us. We wandered through homes for hours. We wanted to stop her but our will had been utterly broken and all we could do was trail along, nodding obediently at the charming details and original woodwork and whatever the hell else she told us to look at.

The first house was so small, it made me angry: not at the realtor, just at the house. It made me want to punch it. No house should be that small. I didn’t think it was possible to cut our apartment in half and put one half on top of the other and call it a house, but they did it. Stupid house.

After that things get a little blurry. Most of the houses were dark and squalid and just plain too small. Some houses were large enough and otherwise fine, except they screamed SOMEONE DIED HERE to me. Maybe I’m morbid. But when the furniture is from the ‘30s and the appliances are from the ‘20s and adorning the walls are gauzy photos of grandkids and 50th wedding anniversary photo collages and the place smells like talcum and cat pee, with something cloying and unwholesome underneath… well. It was all I could do to keep from running away and screaming PLEASE I WANT TO LIVE AGAIN. In one house Scott stood in a windowed nook in a bedroom and announced, “This is where the ghost watches you when you sleep.” So it wasn’t just me.

We saw more of the insides of people’s homes than we ever wanted to see. One place was rife with Christian paraphernalia downstairs, and had a tanning bed upstairs. (Hey, Christians can be tan, too! Why not!) One had many different signs announcing the family’s name: the Danglers. “The Danglers live here!” “Join the Danglers for a Dangler reunion!” “Dangle gently in the breeze, the Dangler way!”

Finally we escaped and drove back, exhausted and hysterical. We could do it! We told each other. We could live here and have a yard and go to the city whenever we wanted and some of those places weren’t so bad and maybe the ghost will be friendly! We don't really want to do it, do we? But we could! Yes! But then we went home, sat down, and looked at the cold, hard facts. Moving is expensive. Homes are expensive. And say all you want that city living is pricey, but friends, you suburbs people have expenses that have never occurred to us city folk: cars and insurance for cars and heating and garbage collection and whatnot. And we can barely afford our thrice-a-week burritos.

Once we realized that we just plain couldn’t afford it, my god, how happy we felt. You mean we get to keep living here? In Brooklyn, the City That Touches You Inappropriately? So this is where we should be. And here we’ll stay, for now. Maybe for a long while. The best part is that I can stop thinking about real estate. And my obsessing ends…now. No, now. Wait, no. Nnnnow.