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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. → 

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Happy book-birthdays to us

Rita, Eden, and I were emailing recently about how our books have recently celebrated (in their own quiet, unassuming way) their birthdays. Sleep is For The Weak is now a five-year-old, while Let's Panic About Babies is in its Terrible Twos. (Or "Terrific Twos," which is what the pre-pre-school program Henry attended was called. Those liars. Terrifying, maybe. I guess no one would have signed up for a class called "Terrifying Twos." I would have, and maybe that's why we had so few playdates.

Oh, memories. Puzzling, dark memories.)

ANYHOO, we thought we'd each do a giveaway to celebrate these milestones, because look, someone has to. Our books are feeling terribly neglected.

Sleep is For The Weak is a collection of the best of various parenting blogs. I had a bunch of posts in there about the toddler years, and reading them now is awfully therapeutic. I can't look at pictures of him at that age without choking up and whispering "Sunrise, Sunset" while my lower lip trembles and falls off. And then I read only slightly exaggerated moments such as this one, when he presented his list of demands:



1. Will be ALL THE TIME, unless I say differently. While watching TELEVISION, you are to sit by my side, quietly, hands folded in lap, whilst I enjoy my shows.

a. You may arise to fetch me a SNACK or a DRINK.
2. No DIAPER CHANGING or PLEAS TO ENGAGE IN PHYSICAL ACTIVITY will be tolerated during the watching of the TELEVISION.

3. Turning off of the television will result in much SCREAMING.


1. There will be many.

a. They will always be strewn about the house so that I may simply reach down and pick up a toy, no matter where I am.

b. They will be loud, complicated, and contain many small bits. I enjoy the SHOOTING NOISES that go w-shooooop or zim zim zim.

c. Nothing that results in LEARNING, please.

And I feel much better. Now he's evolved enough that, were he to request a thing, I can respond with an observation like, "You can buy that once you've saved up enough allowance," or "You can get that yourself, you big, strapping boy." Or I can simply raise an eyebrow and he gets my meaning. Sure, he reacts, but it's nothing compared to toddler behavior. The worst that happens is he goes to his room and slides angry notes under the door. So fun.

I miss the toddler-to-preschooler years more than I miss having a baby around, I have to say. Babies are cute and all, but they're kind of lumpish. Squealing and lumpish. And they never ask you how your day has been. Still, they have that nice head-smell. I don't know, those years are all a blur. Occasionally I'll get weepy over some goddamn cute picture, and then I can always reach for solace in our book, which is also only slightly exaggerated. Excerpt alert!

How do you train a baby to sleep through the night? It's easier than you think. Just follow this simple procedure exactly, with absolutely no variations at all.

8:00 p.m. Put Baby down in the crib.
8:05 p.m. Pace nervously outside nursery as the shrieking starts up.
8:07 p.m. Rummage through refrigerator for snacks. Loud rummaging will drown out the crying.
8:10 p.m. Enter Baby's room and pat her back three times. Not four times. Three. Say "Shhh" four times, in three-second intervals.  Retreat quickly.
8:13 p.m. Glare at husband. Surely this is partly his fault.
8:15 p.m. Cry for a little while.
9:00 p.m. Go back into Baby's room. Pick up Baby. Swear to Baby that you'll never leave her alone again. Rock her until your arms go numb.
10:45 p.m. Put Baby back down. Dim lights. Whoops. You forgot to do that at 8 p.m., didn't you? Just because I didn't specifically say to? Must I spell out everything?
11:00 p.m. Back into Baby's room. Three pats on the back. Not too hard, now.
11:15 p.m. Your husband's asleep. Stand over him, seething.
11:30 p.m. Back in Baby's room, your mere presence will soothe her. Without touching her, reassure her that you are there, and that you're just going in the other room, just for a little bit, it's not like anyone is disappearing, for Christ's sake, isn't she being a little dramatic?
11:45 p.m. Loudly ask your husband if he wants to take over for a little bit, maybe, if it's not too much trouble. He reluctantly gets up. Reluctantly, though. Christ!
12:00 a.m. Try to sleep but don’t because you're now furious and can't believe you ever thought getting married was a good idea.
1:00 a.m. Wake up, even though you didn't realize you were sleeping in the first place. Hear your husband muttering angrily while pacing back and forth with Baby.
1:15 a.m. Tell him he's not doing it right and to just forget it.
1:30 a.m. How does he get to sleep so fast? Jerk.
1:45 a.m. Place Baby back in crib. Dim the lights again, do those soothing "shhh" sounds AGAIN. Back slowly out of room.
1:47 a.m. She just woke up. Pat her back seven times.
1:50 a.m. Okay, ten times. But no more. Now retreat. Retreat!
2:00 a.m. Reassure Baby from other side of door that you're still around. Continue to reassure as needed.
3:30 a.m. Is your voice getting hoarse? I recommend recording your voice and replaying on a continuous loop!
4:00 a.m. Accidentally throw something at husband, injuring him into consciousness.
4:30 a.m. There's silence! Run into room because you think something's wrong, but nothing is wrong! The baby is asleep, and you can be, too!
5:00 a.m. Wake up because you thought you heard the baby, but it turns out you didn't.
5:15 a.m. Oh, wait, you did. Crap.
5:30 a.m. Baby's up for the day, full of smiles and burbles. You made it! Sort of.

Do this every night until it works, or Baby enlists in the military.

Guess what ten-year-olds do? They go to sleep on their own, like sensible people. Really, there's no contest.

Speaking of contests, she segues effortlessly, would you like your very own copy of our books? Did you know that Mother's Day is coming up? And what could be a better gift for the prospective mother or harried mother of a relatively small person? If you want in, comment thusly: if you have a child, explain what your favorite age has been. If you don't have a kid, you can either tell me about a niece or nephew or some beloved family member, OR your own memories of when you were particularly charming.

I'll announce the winner in one week. Eden and Rita are giving away books as well, so if you want to increase your chances, you know what you have to do.




Reader Comments (53)

I have a three year old and a five month old, and I totally loved 18 months to age 2. SO much fun!

April 26, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMartha

My little sister once bit my elbow and didn't let go when I stood up- she tore off my skin. Love that little one.
Would love a copy- I always buy LPAB for my friends!

April 26, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJulia

I have a 5-year-old and a 2-year-old and right now I am enjoying the 2-year-old phase a lot. She's so funny and the cuteness--oh, the cuteness!

April 26, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterFaith

I have two girls who are ten and five now. I think my favorite age is from 3-5. They're discovering things and have tiny cute voices. Even now the 5yo is super hilarious (although I'm not allowed to laugh) and I miss some of that in the now 10yo. I think the baby stage is overrated :)

April 26, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMelissa

Oooh! I have a friend who just had a baby, and he is not sleeping. (If I don't win I will buy one to send her anyway.)

I know this is going to sound like a copout, but every age is my favorite age--when my son is in it. When he was a baby I loved that age; when he was a toddler I loved all the new things that came along with toddlerhood; etc. Of course, there were also things I COULDN'T STAND about each age. But every time something new came along, it was interesting to me.

He is 14 now. There are things I hate about 14, like when he becomes determined he will not get enthusiastic about anything and thinks we are the biggest dorks who have ever existed and were probably put on this earth to make him die of embarrassment. But then there are the moments when we can really talk about big things--like having friends who are gay, or why people go to war, or loving a piece of music so much you want to hear it 18 thousand times in a row. And then, of course, there are the internet videos that make us both laugh so hard we almost pee our pants.

So I guess what I'm saying is: I think every age is hard. And every age is awesome. So every age is my favorite, and every age is one I feel equally inadequate for. Yay, parenting!

April 26, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterKaren P.

Karen, I feel the same way. I just like the person my kid is becoming. He's good company.

April 26, 2013 | Unregistered Commenteralice

I have a 13 month old, and I'd have to say my favorite ages so far have been "zero" and "one." The other day I found myself, a grown woman with a master's degree, absolutely losing my sh*t with glee because he finally responded to my question, "What does a cow say?" His response? "Brooooo! Bowerroooo!" Done! Genius!

April 26, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterHolly

I have a 7 year old and an 11 year old and THE OLDER THE BETTER say I. If I could freeze them in time, say, next year? I definitely would, though. Teenagers are terrible, right?

April 26, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSarahd

I have two daughters, both in their 50s. At this stage of my life, that is the best age, as now they take care of me. Would love to win the books for the nostalgia!

April 26, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterLois

My daughter is 11.5 months old and, so far, I am loving this stage (except for all of the mobility. Don't they make straight jackets for babies?). She just started hugging a few weeks ago and that's pretty much the best thing ever. When I feel like I am failing as a parent (which, let's be honest, happens a lot since my husband and I still feel like we don't know what we're doing sometimes) a hug from her pretty much makes me feel awesome.

April 26, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAnne

5 is fun, so much fun, more conversations and hilarious insights.
I do NOT miss those colicky days.

April 26, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSarah

I have a 4-year-old and a 2-month-old, and 4 is my favorite age for sure. She's hilarious, and she is old enough to ask the baby why she won't just go to sleep if she's tired already, so that's fun.

April 26, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterKristin

I have two girls, 11 & 13, which is delightful & full of Rosie the Riveter feminism except for certain days when we all feel like the world is ending and we take to our beds with hot water bottles and chocolate.

I wasn't a great fan of the toddler years as there was too much "I need x right now or I will scream" and not enough "Let's have a rational and interesting conversation" but maybe that's just me.

However, one thing that I did love about having a 3 year old was that they ask great questions. One day, we visited my sister at work and she introduced us to her co-worker:

My sister: Co-worker, this is my sister and my niece
Co-worker: Hi, nice to meet you
Me: Nice to meet you, too
My 3yo daughter: Hi, do you have a vagina?
Co-worker: ....

It was awesome (honestly!) and she ended up asking many, many women the same question before she outgrew that stage. I loved watching people try to figure out how they should answer her (Hint: It's a yes/no question).

April 26, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterRachel

I like 4-5 since they are so gullible at that age you can tell them ANYTHING! Don't know an answer? Make something up and be believed. Done and done.

April 26, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSheilah

I think around 4ish is my favorite age. Everything they say is cute, they're big enough to reason with, small enough to intimidate into good behavior, they still take naps and they can fetch snacks for you.

April 26, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterCSmith

Oof, I think it depends on gender. When my nephew was 3, he was crazy-cute and unintentionally hilarious except you could NEVER laugh at him, which made everything so much funnier. With my nieces, I think 7 was the best; they were just getting into interesting books, so I got to be the awesome aunt who introduced them to Roald Dahl.

April 26, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterElaine

3-5 Those preschool years were great. They could dress and feed themselves, and have an interesting conversation. Good times!

April 26, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterkelli

3-5 is my favorite. They have opinions and can express them....and as CSmith said, they will nap and fetch snacks!

April 26, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSheila

All three of mine were GLORIOUS around 9-12 months. They could crawl so they weren't frustrated about not being able to move, but they couldn't walk yet, so they were relatively slow-moving. And all of them were just so HAPPY all the time at that age!

April 26, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterLisa Y

I'm with Karen P--I've enjoyed every age for different reasons. (Mine are now 14 and 10, and I love being able to relate to them as the young adults they are/are becoming. My 14-year-old is going on 50 as they say (she thinks teenagers are so immature and that they are wasting their talent and potential on romance and partying, so maybe I'd feel differently with a different 14-year-old.) If I had to pick an age to parent a generic kid, I'd pick four or ten. At four you can see their little personalities and they have cute and funny insights on things they observe. Tens are sweet, not quite the surly pre-teen, but older than the younguns and command that respect. They're kind of awkward in a sweet way that makes me want to root for them.

April 27, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterdgm

Four. Years. Old. Hands down, my favourite. Adorable, curious, articulate, charming, and not yet YOU-CAN'T-HANDLE-THE-TRUTH sophisticated in her legal arguments for whatever her heart and mind desire. (That would be five, also accompanies by, "that's not FAIR."

Also, right now. She is twenty, and an amazing human to know. I have friends with babies who would LOVE these books. They NEED these books.

April 27, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJet Harrington

I love when they are 18 months because things just start clicking. So fun! I have a 4 year old boy and 4 is pretty cool, too. I also have a 6 month old who refuses to sleep in his crib. I'd love to read SIFTW again!

April 27, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterHeather

I have a 2 and 4 year old. And age 1 is my favorite. They can walk and talk (kind of) and are so happy to be doing anything. We can build block towers or drive cars all day. And I don't have to play imaginary games involving all your favorite TV characters. And they still take naps. Though, I have to say, that when my 4 year old isn't being a grumpy pants she is delightful and I can take her anywhere.

April 27, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAshley

My niece is just about to turn two and she has a total obsession with sweets, even though she's never even had a lick of a lollipop. She left me a voicemail message on Halloween (at my sister's prompting) which went thusly. "Candy. Candy. Candy. Tae moon maw (that is her toddler speak for 'I love you')." Thank God my sister doesn't have any other children because nobody can compete for my affection like my niece does. I would like to give these books to my sister, since such awesome parenting deserves an equally awesome gift.

April 27, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterErin

I have an almost-six-year-old daughter (Who will, in fact, inform you she is 5 and 11/12) and my favorite age has been 5. She's such a "person" now! The temper tantrums are (mostly) gone, and she's rational, reasonable, and teachable!
HOWEVER, my brother and his wife are pregnant with their first, and your book would certainly be more helpful to them than "What to Expect..." or even "Babies for Dummies"

April 27, 2013 | Unregistered Commenteryotko

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