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How to Endure and Possibly Triumph Over the Adorable Tyrant
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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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« Why you should not fear Five. | Main | It'll all be better soon. Right? Right. Right! »
Monday
Sep172007

An open letter to five-year-olds.

Listen up, jerks. You may think your place in the household is secure, but your parents have had it with you, and are seriously considering some drastic changes. Like maybe a move to a Preschooler-Free Household. Yeah, that's right. One of these mornings you might just find your Thomas Suitcase all packed up on the doorstep. Your parents will tell you there's an AWESOME SURPRISE waiting for you outside, and once you're out there, oopsie, the door locked behind you! And why aren't they answering the door? And what's that cab pulling up the driveway?

Oh, don't give me that look, with the big wet eyes. All right, probably they won't do that. Or definitely. Definitely they won't do that. Okay? Pull yourself together. But sometimes they dream of it, and do you want them thinking of you like that? No, right? You're staring at me blankly, so either you agree or you don't understand a word I'm saying. While I have your attention, here are some behaviors you might want to avoid in the future:

1. Whining. Bad idea, short stuff. I don't know when you first learned the super-smartastic lesson that making a sound like the air being slowly let out of a balloon will cause your parents to finally see your point. In fact, all they can hear is EEEEEEEE. All they can think is "Where's that suitcase of his?"

2. Talking. As in, that much. Yes you're witty and brilliant and yes your parents sometimes enjoy hearing of your Lego Batman Adventures in Prehistoric Space, but the occasional pause would serve you well. For instance, when your mom is calling the bank and she gets one of those automated voice-activated menus. The kind that respond to YES and NO, not MOM HEY MOM LISTEN HOW BATMAN EXCAPED THE ROBOTRONIC DINO-RAPTOR.

3. Behaving in a nutty fashion. News flash: sometimes your parents think you're a complete loon. Like when you're tired but instead of sitting quietly or GOING TO BED LIKE YOU CLEARLY NEED TO, you leap from room to room, alternately wailing piteously and cackling with mirth. Then when your parents sensibly try to direct you upstairs you engage in multiple wacky pratfalls until you finally injure yourself. And blame your parents for your injuries.

4. Baby talk. There was a time when you talked like a baby, and you're not in that time anymore. You can't fake it. It's not charming when you try. You like to combine it with the whining. No one else likes it. See how your mom is shuddering? Okay. Let's move on.

5. "Again!" Here's the thing: if something happens that was fun, we get that you enjoyed it. And that you wish you could freeze that moment in time and replay it as many times as you want. Unfortunately, you cannot. So when your mom hangs you upside-down by the feet and you're greatly amused, and you ask for it again, maybe she can do it one or two more times. But after the fifth time, her spine begins to give out. And when you're issuing threats and caterwauling because you can't do that fun upside-down thing a 37th time, you've pretty much sapped the fun out of the experience, and also caused your parents to think twice about ever engaging with you, in any way, until the end of time. Let it go.

There are 17 other behaviors we need to address, but this is a good beginning for now. If you make an honest attempt to improve yourself in the ways I've outlined above, your place in the home might remain secure. Of course I can't promise anything. And no, you can't have a cookie. No, I said. Not now. No. No. Okay, just one.

Reader Comments (76)

Bedtime is killing me. Stories, I can do...but then it's butterfly kisses, eskimo kisses, regular kisses, a hug, two hugs, more kisses, a cool rag on the head, feeding the fish, one last pee pee, then Oh...I need to poooooop mommy, and cover me up again, I need my lamb and blankie and my airplanes, cover me again, kiss me again, I need a song and don't forget to check on me so I don't get scared of the fireworks (it's September, no more fireworks sweetie). Three year olds, Gotta love 'em.
September 18, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterNaomi
Jennifer...I love the Whiner Island! That's hysterical!

Molly: When do you find the time to cross stich? I think it's time to cross stich their mouths shut.
September 18, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterNaomi
"when your mom is calling the bank and she gets one of those automated voice-activated menus. " AMEN! Like those things didn't suck enough on their own.
September 18, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterErika
God this is hilarious! And so true! And I'm so happy, happy, happy that six is here (only two more fives to go! Yikes!). You didn't mention the one about how "put on your socks and shoes because the school bus will be here in 68 seconds" translates "go up to your room and build a fantastic lego sculpture." Happy, happy six!
September 18, 2007 | Unregistered Commentergeminimama
This is EXACTLY why I had my tubes tied.
September 18, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterJake
Right there with you. My seven year old is all that you listed. I especially hate the "again" moments, and finally you've had it, enough already, and then she cries, totally forgetting that I just spent thirty minutes doing whatever it is she wants me to do again. I totally agree, it gets to the point where you're like "Oh wouldn't it be fun to Xyz" and then you talk yourself out of it becuase you know you'll be doing XYZ forever, only to end it and have a whiny mess to deal with.

Kids sure can suck can't they?
September 18, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterSandi
Ha ha ha ha ha ha! And that goes for all the comments too.
September 18, 2007 | Unregistered Commentertifanie
I've just come to the realisation that every single child on this earth has been cracked out of exactly the same mould.

And Sooz? Yes. Yes it is.
September 18, 2007 | Unregistered Commenterskape7
OH! MY! GOD! Seriously, rolling on the floor laughing my ass off! The post was awesome, but some of the comments are every bit as good.

Jack turns eight months old tomorrow.....I will love him, and hug him and appreciate the hell out of the fact he can't talk yet. Or walk. Or any of those other horrible things.

Then, I'm going to look for a way to hold on to these moments, becasue you all just scared the shit out of me! I'm already threatening him with putting him in a box and sending him to Siberia. That or the Gypsies, becasue they like little boys.

Crap. I'm so screwed.
September 18, 2007 | Unregistered Commentertamara
Of course it's not constant. But spend some times with kids this age and you'll see all of the above at one point or another.

They really are very charming, most of the time.

#3 (total maniac meltdowns) are common in my house. Sometimes I kind of envy her ability to enjoy behaviors that would get an adult involuntarily committed.
September 19, 2007 | Unregistered Commentermimi smartypants
Bossy never realized how much the five-year-old has in common with the Crack Head.
September 19, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterBOSSY
where's the book? i'm still waiting....
September 19, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterLisa C
The phone thing? My husband does it to.

Everytime. Like a freakin' call to arms - Boys, Daddy, Mommy's on the phone! Time for an indepth discussion.
September 19, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterManic Mommy
Love this, although I may have thought about the ol' suitcase idea too much when my 6yo asked, "Mom, do you wish you never had children?" Ouch.
September 19, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterFairly Odd Mother
holy mother of god was that right on.

thank you. and good night.
September 19, 2007 | Unregistered Commenternikol
Ah, the good old days...I remember them fondly.

I am sorry to be the one to inforn you that Numbers One, Two, and unfortunately, even Three still may occur with a fifteen year old.

One: well, no explanation necessary. Kids will always whine.

Two turns into play-by-play commentary of every sport event they have recently participated in or even watched, fueled by constant changing of whatever I was watching to any one of several ESPN channels, and their commentators with the high-pitched, always-on voices. I HATE ESPN.

As for behaving nutty, they tend to do it with their friends instead, and it can be hilarious, but I don't want to think about it too much as they will all soon or have recently gotten their licenses.

And I wouldn't change a thing.



September 21, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterPeggasus
Ah, those good old days...I remember them fondly.

I am sorry to be the one to inforn you that Numbers One, Two, and unfortunately, even Three (occasionally) still may occur with a fifteen year old.

One: well, no explanation necessary. Kids will always whine.

Two turns into play-by-play commentary of every and/or any sports event they have recently participated in or even watched, fueled by constant changing of whatever I was watching to any one of several ESPN channels, with their commentators with the high-pitched, always-on voices. I HATE ESPN.

As for behaving nutty, they tend to do it with their friends instead, and it can be hilarious, but I don't want to think about that too much as they will all soon or have recently gotten their licenses.

But I wouldn't change a thing. I loved Five.



September 21, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterPeggasus
Best birth control ever.
September 21, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterClaire
I am SO THERE WITH YOU on #2. I think my 5 1/2 yr old son thinks his middle name is "you talk too much".

And I must add 4b)Fake country accent. He watches wayyyyy too much Hannah Montana with his sister.

Forget about shipping off the kids...I think I'm going to run away to Fiji.
September 22, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterAngel
"Once the cool elementary kid stuff kicks in, the whining goes waaaay down."

That is, unless you have a daughter, in which case the whining tends to increase 10-fold!

I could use a few of these lists myself for the children I nanny for!
September 23, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterRachel
Finslippy, this is the best letter to any preschoolers out there on any blog ever. Let us all stop writing those shmaltzy newsletters to our kids, I say, and start doing more of these! Good work!! I too have a post coming out tomorrow that is also newsletter-style, on the occasion of Crabtot's third birthday, but, like you, I have no desire to write one of those "you light up my life" loveletters. So I haven't. And will probably get some grief for what's contained therein. Blogmamas, come and get me!!
September 25, 2007 | Unregistered Commentercrabmommy
All too funny! Although my response when I get sick of the "Why, Mommy, Why?": "You tell me, Buddy-boy." That gets him going on some diatribe or another. And at least it breaks the cycle!
September 27, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterMathsciteach
Does the open letter thing work for 5 year olds? Because if it does, I am printing this out and giving it to my five year old. And when he starts up, I will stop him and direct him to the letter for advice. And then he will stop and blessed, blissful silence will reign. Or else he'll be out on the stoop with that handy extra-large-sized Pirates of the Caribbean backpack full of his junk.
September 28, 2007 | Unregistered Commentersuperblondgirl
Star Wars Legos, Star Wars Legos, Star Wars Legos!

That's all we ever hear about in this household!

Now he's going to make his own living, with his own obsession, on LegoAdventures.com:-)



October 7, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterLego Kid
Hi,I'm copying this and printing it and putting it loosely in my daughter's baby book (she's soon to be 3) because it soo exactly expresses how I feel that I can't stop laughing. Amused by the accuracy of your descriptions, or hysterical at the thought of how many more years of this... I'm not sure. good luck.

October 14, 2007 | Unregistered Commenternina

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