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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. → 


Remember, dads: Drinks go in the face-hole.

I saw this commercial last night:

A man wakes up in the middle of the night. He hears a noise. It’s coming from his son’s room. He checks on his son. His son is coughing.

The man goes online. He reads a page entitled “Coughing.” Next, we see him give his son a glass of water. His wife looks on in loving approval.

The voiceover says something about Optimum Online having the information you need, blah blah, I can’t remember that part.

So. Let’s take a closer look at what went on in this particular commercial, shall we? Come on!

A father—let’s call him Kevin!—wakes up in the middle of the night. Noise, possibly coming from the boy’s room. Not a good sound. Kevin looks at his wife. She’s not silencing the noise. She seems to be sleeping. He nudges her a little. Nothing. Okay, so he waits for a moment. The noise only gets louder. The wife is sleeping, still not taking care of things. Fine, fine, he’ll get up. No one says Kevin can’t take care of his own. The noise is almost definitely coming from the boy’s room. Logic dictates that he should enter the boy’s room, see what’s up. He pokes his head in. Yep, here it is. He looks at the boy, whose shoulders appear to lurch forward with each unpleasant noise.

He has no idea what could be going on.

Shaking his head, he leaves the boy’s room, and heads downstairs. There are a whole bunch of books on child care, but that’s the wife’s job, he doesn’t even know where they are. Anyway he never could figure out the, what do you call it, "Table of Contents." But he does like the computer, with its pretty pictures. Luckily, this man has Optimum Online, so he goes on the “World Wide Web,” which he heard can provide information and so forth. So, okay, computer it is. He types in “hacking noise.” Here we go. “Coughing.”

Huh! Who knew? Says it comes from the lungs! Which are in the body!

There’s a whole lot of stuff here, too much to read. Something about bronchi-whatsis and pulmo-whoozit. He’s getting awfully sleepy. Oh, wait, here’s the section for Dads. Whew! “Dads: If your child is making a noise we call “coughing,” call your wife. If you want to do a little something yourself, you can give your child a glass of water!”

Well, there you go! He heads straight to the kitchen, gets a glass, breaks it. Crap. She’ll clean it up tomorrow. Gets another one, plastic this time. Drops it. Doesn’t break. He smiles. Nothing he can’t figure out. Fills it with water, heads to the kid’s room. “Here, son,” Kevin says. “I made you a glass of water.” Son drinks a little, says, “Thanks, Dad.” Wait, there’s the wife, behind him! Took her long enough. “I made him a glass of water,” he says to her. “You sure did,” she says, beaming. “You sure did.”

Now that I think about it, this is a reasonable scenario. Carry on.


I'm at a loss for a clever title.

Arriving this morning, all pink and wrinkly: baby girl Tallulah, daughter of best friends Scott and Sarah. I have not seen little T. in person yet, but the cell-phone photo was enough to melt my heart and make me want another one. (Baby, that is, not heart.) Of course, then I remembered what those first few months are like. Shudder. But then, see, I remembered the good parts. Aw, babies. Wait, bad parts returning. Gack! And...back to the goodness. (I don't remember this, though.)

Anyway, luckily for them, technology has come to the rescue: no more trying to figure out why in hell little Tallulah is crying: this contrivance will up and tell you! I imagine it intoning in a creepy, detached voice, "Mother and/or Father: I hunger. Sustenance. Sustenance." I like the features--the splash-proof cover, for when Baby feels the need to douse it with one of her many varieties of fluid; the non-toxicity of it, because you get a toxic baby-cry-analyzer, and look what happens then.

Welcome to the world, little Lula.


A plague is upon us.

There is sickness here in the Finslippy universe—the Child, who was slightly ill yesterday but bravely soldiering on despite his under-the-weatherness, awoke this morning with a fever of 104, blisters in his throat, speaking fluent Old Norse. The doctor quickly and easily diagnosed him with the dreaded Coxsackie virus. And so we returned to our dark hidey hole, to apply salves and poultices to Henry’s tender parts, and dream of healthier days.

I am addled with sleep deprivation. As evidence, I direct you now to’s listing for “sickness.” Here are the synonyms:

"affection, affliction, ailment, backdoor trots, bug, complaint, condition, crud, disease, diseasedness, disorder, dose, flu, ill, ill health, illness, indisposition, infirmity, malady, nausea, queasiness, runs, syndrome, trots, unhealth, unhealthfulness, unwellness…"

The thing is, I was planning to observe, with great amusement, that “backdoor trots” is the fourth synonym they give, and why is it fourth, ha ha, but then I realized why. It’s alphabetical.

See, I was thinking it was in order of usage. Ahem. Cough, cough.

Anyone who has had more than three hours of sleep would probably have figured this out before they started to blog about it.

Still—“backdoor trots”! That’s funny!


Babies love coffee, and moms love putting them near it.

There's this place? It's called Tea Lounge. It’s what it sounds like. People go there. And the people, they bring their kids. And babies. Kids and babies. The place is crammed full of kids and babies. Screaming, mewling children. You would think that in Park Slope, no one works, and no one has anywhere else to go with their children. And everyone is desperate for scones and four-dollar cappuccinos. So they pack up the kids, and head out for Tea Lounge. Which, look, in theory, this should be fine. Tea Lounge is big. Tea Lounge can handle the crowds. Tea Lounge probably loves all these people, with their fine children and their pretty money.

But the people, they bring their children, and they pack lunches for them, and they bring toys, and they spread out all over the place, and you know what? Then it’s no longer a café. Then it’s a day care center. Babies are crawling, toddlers are toddling, while childless adults are trying to get to their seats, balancing teetering china cups of steaming coffee.

People. Your children. Remember them? Look up from your lattes.

Then the after-school crowd comes in. Young kids, let’s say, 7-10. (Preteens? Wait, they call them “tweens” now! This is cute! Okay! Tweens!) They arrive with their parents in tow—parents who appear to be ready to vomit with exhaustion. (But why can’t they go home? Are their homes being used as porn sets until 5 p.m.? I bet that’s it. I bet their homes are being used for the production of hardcore pornography.) The parents collapse on chairs. The kids run shrieking in circles, hot-chocolate in hand and smeared into hair. They tell each other hilarious jokes, which cause them to fling their bodies throughout space, while they yawp with joy. Then they scream their hilarious jokes at their parents, who are sitting many feet away from them, smiling into space. I’ve seen children sprawled out in high-traffic areas, playing with Legos. Legos. They can’t play with their Legos at home? Perhaps they can play with the nice gaffer from the porn set. I bet the gaffer is nice. Gaffers are always nice.

Recently I was there with Henry. (Yes, I bring my child there. I am a hypocrite, sure, but at least I don’t let him run around.) Two bohemian-type (read: grubby) children, a girl and a boy, run up to Henry. Henry stares at them. I smile at the kids. The girl rubs one paw across Henry’s face. I swear she leaves a smudge. Henry is taken aback for a moment, then recovers and goes back to his Cheerios. The girl says to me, “He’s a baby!” I look at her parents, who are sitting (defeated, cringing) a few feet away. They smile ruefully in my direction. The boy is now inserting a finger into Henry’s mouth, like he’s a doll. For once I hope Henry bites someone. “Um, honey?” I say, trying not to slap the kid’s hand out of my son’s maw, “He has a cold, and I wouldn’t watch you to catch it. Also he doesn’t like that. Yeah, that. He doesn’t like it.” Except he does like it; Henry loves the poop-infested hand of this strange child in his mouth. He’s snorting with laughter while this kid fishes around in Henry’s mouth, and the girl and the boy are yukking it up, taking turns with the World of Discovery that is my child’s orifice and saying things like, “Ew, wet Cheerios in there.” I’m looking at the parents and, very loudly and directly, saying, “Um! Um! Um!” Which is so clear! This so clearly communicates, “Please stop your horrible children from fishing around in my child’s mouth!” But the parents, they don’t speak this language. They seem to find their children’s inquisitiveness charming. So they sit there. This makes me sad.

People. If it’s so difficult to keep your children in check, you should stay home, even if there are strangers performing illicit acts on your soapstone countertops. Really, this is common sense.