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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. → 


Babies don't sleep, but then they do.

Our friends’ baby Tallulah is now eight weeks old. She’s kicking her parents’ asses with her newborn I’m-a-baby-so-I’ll-think-I’ll-cry-instead-of-sleep attitude, but—and this is important—she’s not mine, so I feel pretty relaxed about it. I recently said to them, “Boy, these first few weeks sure have gone by quickly!” and they were like, hmm, it’s been crawling by for us, what with the sleep deprivation and the, you know, crying. And then I mentioned how Henry sleeps 13 hours a night, and takes a two-hour nap every day, and how that day we all overslept because we forgot to set the alarm and Henry didn’t wake up until 10 a.m., and, well, it turns out that wasn’t something they wanted to hear. New parents are so sensitive.

Actually, I think our tales of Henry’s record-breaking sleep habits cheer them up, because I’m sure that they, like the we of 16 months ago, don’t really believe that Tallulah will ever, ever sleep through the night. Luckily we are here to give hope to the hopeless, perspective to the not-perspective-having.

Until Henry was around 4 months old, Scott and I were so sleep-deprived, we were probably clinically insane. Henry would sleep for, say, 45 minutes at a time, then wake up and remain awake--awake and pissed off--for hours. I would tell people that I now understood child abuse, then I would shriek “JUST KIDDING!” and laugh maniacally until they backed away. I spent all day graphing charts of Henry’s sleep and then staring at the paper as if a 3-D solution would eventually wobble into view.

We were tired.

Turns out that not sleeping makes you stupid, too. Scott and I fought all the time, but we were such morons that it was hard to take our conflicts seriously. We would have the kind of asinine, confused fights that you might have with someone if you’ve both just been awakened in the middle of the night and you’re trying to communicate some kind of dream-agenda, although you can no longer recall what you’ve said as soon as you’ve said it. Our fights went a little like this:

Setting: The living room. 7 p.m. I’m staring longingly into an empty brownie pan. Husband is glaring at the TV. Henry has just fallen asleep in his car seat.

Me: Did you do that thing? The, um…

Him: What?

Me: You know…(sigh).

Him: Wha--? How would I know? Wha--?

Me [glaring]: The thing! The—Jesus, never mind.

Him: What are you saying?

Me: Shut UP.

Him: Don't tell me to--God!

Me [sobbing]: Shut up shut up! Shut up!

Henry wakes up.

Me: [incomprehensible syllables amid sobs]

Him: [kicking coffee table]

And now! Lookit lookit! Henry sleeps, and our fights have become more sophisticated, with completed thoughts and proper nouns! There are several ways that we could probably take credit for this, but in the end, he just needed to get a little bigger. I guess it happens that way for everyone, or else some of us would be 34 and still need to be rocked and swaddled every night. And that would be creepy.

On a somewhat related note, I love this quote (From a non-news story on President Taft, of all people: “Taft's Nodding Off Attributed to Illness”)—the article notes that President Taft “was the most obviously sleepy person to ever inhabit the White House.” Apparently other presidents, like, say, Rutherford B. Hayes,* were drowsier, but better able to hide it.


*I love Rutherford B. Hayes.


Spice racks can make us happy--and tell us a little something about ourselves.

I bought a spice rack today. I’ve wanted a spice rack for weeks, and finally I said to myself, I said, Alice, old girl (I talk to myself like that), you deserve a spice rack.

I spent an hour tonight filling and labeling the spice rack’s glass bottles. And now I keep walking past it so that I can admire its shiny newness.

A couple of times I've pretended* to just be casually walking by, when—whoopsy—something shiny catches my attention. Well, will you look at that! It’s a spice rack!

I realize this is sad. It’s good at least that I realize it, right?


* For whose benefit, you may well ask? My husband is watching television. My son is asleep. My dog—if I said what he's doing to himself, the google hits I get would become even more lurid. So this charade I'm playing must be all for the imaginary viewing audience.

And…cue laugh track. Roll credits. Thank you.


If there's a better word than "rictus," I don't know it.

A couple of days ago Henry and I were making our way into our apartment building when we ran into one of our upstairs neighbors. We don’t know this woman very well. She doesn’t really speak English. We see her maybe once every few months when we’re entering or exiting our apartment. She and her family are always very sweet to us, exclaiming over the baby, etc.

So on this day, she opened the door for me as I tore several muscles trying to lug Henry’s stroller up the stairs, and she shouted, “I have present!” and skipped up the stairs to her apartment. Dear god, I thought. She’s given us some things for Henry before, and none of it was anything we could use. Of course it’s nice that she’s giving Henry gifts, but we have a square-footage-challenged apartment, and the last thing we need is more clutter. We’re perfectly capable of collecting our own junk, thank you—we don’t need someone else’s.

And then she came down the stairs. And she was holding--oh, people. How I wish you could have seen. She was holding an enormous plastic swan.

Not only was it enormous. And plastic. But it was black with filth. This was one dirty, dirty swan.

“Happy Easter!” she shouted (she kind of shouts everything, actually) and plonked this thing down in front of me. And, oh god. It had stuff inside it.

Highlights of the enclosed items: a wrinkled, dirty kite featuring some kind of green sea monster. A moldering pre-teen girl’s bathing suit. An unidentifiable animal made of glued-together pom-poms, wearing a chef’s hat, with a tag on it that reads “Buono Appetito!” A small, chipped, plastic seal dressed as a clown, a ball balanced on its nose. A red tambourine with a decal on it featuring some ‘70s-fashioned rocking teens (floating above their heads are the words “Super Action Sound Band!” I love this, actually. Whatever grisly fate awaits the rest of these items, the tambourine's staying). And, finally, blue fuzzy slippers (covered in brown stains) with misshapen Cookie-Monster heads attached to the toes. It’s clearly not the authentic Cookie Monster (I call him “Biscuit Beast.” He lives on “Tahini Avenue.”). His mouths are agape in a rictus of agony.

All of these items, I should mention, reek of...something. Mothballs, maybe, or death. It's not clear to me.

She presented us with the trash-filled grimy swan and then got down on one knee and shrieked at Henry, “Give me hug!” He ran away, screaming. Well, wouldn’t you? This is unusual behavior for Henry, who usually bats his eyelashes at even the kookiest, most garbage-festooned street people, but even he was not able to overlook her particular brand of crazy. “He’s a little tired,” I said, and she said, “I give candy!” and before I even knew it she had grabbed his hand and put something in it. Luckily he was too terrified to hold onto the mystery item, and it fell to the ground. It was a plastic-wrapped hard candy, the size of a large grape—a watermelon-flavored hard candy with gum inside it, to be exact. Is she trying to kill my kid? How did her son live past 3? And how do you throw away a giant plastic swan without your (possibly insane, probably homicidal) upstairs neighbor noticing?


It's quiz time!

Guess which items I let my son play with this morning

a) an unplugged hair dryer

b) a plugged-in clock/radio

c) Charlie the dog’s gums

d) the contents of the upended bathroom wastebasket (tissue paper, floss)

e) container that once contained yogurt, and, all right, still does, in that Henry didn’t want to finish it, but is now feeding it to the dog, and kind of licking it himself, or at least pretending to

f) a steaming bucket of urine.

If you guessed everything but “f,” you’re correct, and as reward, you may judge me… now. No, wait. Okay, now.

Guess what I was doing while Henry was playing with the above items

a) sort of keeping one eye on him, but really reading a magazine

b) eating a waffle over the sink, real quick-like, before he saw me and decided that he deserved it more than I do

c) repeatedly asking him if it was time for his nap yet

d) Downing the bottle of scotch we keep around for when the grandparents visit (the grandparents enjoy the hooch, I’m sure they don’t mind me telling you) while making prank phone calls to ex-boyfriends.

If you guessed everything but “e,” well, I hope you’re right. Frankly, the morning is a bit of a blur for me.

Ha, ha!