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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. → 

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We were having a bad day.

Brooklyn was a snowy wonderland, and we were inside, getting mad at each other. Nothing worked right. The place was a mess. We should clean more, we should be more organized, but there's never enough time. We were in each other's way, because there's not enough space, never enough space, and we yelled. Then we hugged and apologized and then discussed our rational and well-thought-out points which devolved into more yelling, and then a second round of hugs (shoved together by Henry, who had really had enough of our behavior). We retreated to our corners. We pledged to be better in the future.

Outside the sky was turning bright, and there was all this snow, crying out to us, SLED ON ME. Now. Jerks. It was time to cheer up. Because: snow! Last year it never snowed, after all, and the sled sat in our upstairs hallway, whimpering softly to itself. Personally I loathe sledding, but the men in my family want nothing more than to hurtle down slopes, and I like to watch them and wring my hands.

We layered up and trudged outside, where the fun times could be had. Only, Henry's boots were bothering him. We're a few blocks to the park, but every few feet we had to stop so Henry could examine and adjust his boots. He was pretty grouchy about it. He kept taking them off. We were losing our patience. Everything, I thought, is terrible. We are incapable of joy. Around us all the happy families were passing us on their way to the park or back from the park, laughing, holding their sleds, probably going home to whip up artisanal hot chocolate with homemade marshmallows.

One block, two blocks. The wind was gusting in our faces. The seventh time Henry stopped to adjust his socks I wondered why we bothered going out, ever. Why everything had to be so fucking hard. I sighed heavily and Scott cursed under his breath and Henry was, I am sure, heartily sick of both of us.

Finally we got to the park, where everyone in the universe already was, and all having a delightful time. No one seemed to mind that they were sharing a relatively small hill in the park with everyone else in the universe. People were crashing into each other, sledding into each other, squealing and cheering. I stood up there, watching them all, wondering how they stood it.

There ensued some complicated sledding adventures. Complicated because there was too much humanity present on the hill to actually sled, and also the boots. THE BOOTS. By the time we left I was sure I had gone terribly wrong, not just in one area of my life, but every single one of them. Henry insisted he could barely walk, and he was being pretty dramatic about it, and I thought, this is because of the morning we had. Because I lost my shit and yelled loudly enough for the neighbors to wonder about me. I have literally hobbled my son.

When we got home I took a close look at his boots. Turned out they were TINY. Because the last time we needed snow boots it was 2010. They were at least two sizes too small. We didn't hobble our child emotionally. WE HOBBLED HIM WITH SMALL BOOTS.

Then we ordered him a pair of new boots, put on a movie, drank hot cocoa, and had a perfectly lovely day.

It occurred to me later on, Small Boots is every imaginary problem I torture myself with. Every dilemma I'm sure is insoluble, but could be fixed, if I dedicate some energy to focusing on solutions instead of the problem. And really, we have no big problems. We need a few feet more space, a few hours in the week. Boots can be purchased; time can be found; a few household-management changes can keep us from blowing up after a stressful week. It's all Small Boots. I'm no life coach, and I promise not to make this my catchphrase, but you have to admit, it has a ring to it.

Reader Comments (51)

Did you hear me yelling yesterday all the way from Texas? Is that why you wrote the exact words I needed to read tonight? THANK YOU. Am totally stealing Small Boots after the proper three use credits to you of course.

February 11, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterRachel N.

I, too was yelling and crying and raging over some "small boots" yesterday. Sigh.
Thank you, Alice. I don't realize I am as negative as people sometimes point out to me. It becomes a habit. I shall try to remember to think of boots.

February 11, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAngela

Small Boots, eh? That's not something that would happen in our house, ever. Also, we never yell. HAHAHAHA.

February 11, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSonja

Thank you for this...a few too many mornings I leave home with or come back wearing the small boots.

February 11, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterFer

I adore you, straight-up.

February 11, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterKaren from Chookooloonks

My catchphrase was "grumpypants", developed when pregnancy caused all underwear to be too small. I don't use it in everyday life, but I should. Thanks for the reminder.

(PS You are a genius.)

February 12, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterFawn

I always think I've broken my children when they go into OCD rants over clothing. I've had that day you describe. And this post is very helpful. I'll remember this, Small Boots Bradley.

February 12, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSarah

Such days sound very familiar ... they even exist in South Africa.

February 12, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterEnid Melanie

I have one word for you: Caligula.

February 12, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMiranda

"Small Boots is every imaginary problem I torture myself with." I love this. I want to get "small boots" tattooed on my forehead. But then I'd have real problems. Thank you for this post. I was having these exact feelings as I sat down to read it.

February 12, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSteph

This is exactly where I am this week.

February 12, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterBeth

thank you for this

February 12, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSue

This is so beautifully written, and a great reminder. If you start a small boots movement I will laugh a little but mostly, I will join!

February 12, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterCaitlin Fisch

We too have (metaphorical) small boots. It really is all fixable. I don't know why I continue to allow myself to convince myself that it's all Really Big Things. Thank you for this reminder that just a few modifications can go a long way in small boots situations. (Also, if this becomes your catchphrase, and everyone starts to use it, I promise not to mistake someone yelling small boobs then get upset because I can't MAKE them grow.)

February 12, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterArnebya

"We are incapable of joy."
This is us. Oh how this is us. sigh.

February 12, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterErika

This is a perfect metaphor that I shall remember always. When my husband lost his job this past winter I learned for the first time that I am actually capable of not thinking about the scary thing if I focus all the energy I usually spend on worrying on distracting myself from it. I'm not sure how healthy my strategies were, but I didn't self-destruct, which is good. ONWARD!

February 12, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterRita Arens

Oh, hell yes! It is all small boots.

February 12, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMomo Fali

Thank you. I've been hobbled by Small Boots more than I'd like to admit.

February 12, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterRobin

Oh thank you! You speak the truth. You described our weekend, when my two truck-obsessed little boys managed to whine and complain when we announced that we were surprising them by going to a MONSTER TRUCK rally! It was supposed to be fun. Yelling ensued. Small boots.

Thanks again!

February 12, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSarah

Love your small boots analogy. It might be useful in curbing my quarterly (at least), tear-stained declaration that "I have failed Life 101."

Also, I've forgotten before to check my son's shoes and was mortified when I realized he'd been wearing his *everyday* sneakers with his toes silently jammed into the ends.

February 12, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterWombat Central

What are small boots to some, are the too tight pants for me.

I so get it.


February 12, 2013 | Unregistered Commenteralexandra

You described that feeling I have in life on almost a daily basis. Sometimes I'm fussing with my own boots and sometimes I'm standing by trying to help a family member deal with the latest ill fitting boots. Things seem so hard but I think I make them that way too. I need to read this post at least once a week to remind myself that not everything is a big deal. Thanks for letting me see inside your too small apartment and know that I'm not alone feeling like this!

February 12, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterChrisor

Oh, good gawd, YES.

Yesterday I bellowed at the boys, "We are a family that finds SOLUTIONS so stop fighting and figure it out!" Except I never do that.

I love a fellow hand wringer. And small boot catastrophizer. Almost as much as I love a good slap in the solution side of my teetertotter.


February 12, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterNaptimewriting

Thank you for this. It's exactly what I needed to hear this week.

February 12, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSara

I have those moments many times. I have to keep reminding myself to breathe and take chill pill. Maybe my new mantra should be "Small Boots". Om...

February 12, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterneo

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