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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

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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. → 

« What? No. NO. | Main | Why I am not a poet. »

I am so out of my league, here.

The other night, I'm making dinner while Henry is complaining that he's huuungry, that he can't waaaiiit for dinner because he's huuuuuuuungry. "It's only five minutes away," I say as I run around dropping things and burning other things. Once again I have foolishly attempted to cook more than one dish. When will I learn?

"Five minutes is a long time and I can't wait that long," Henry declares. "I need applesauce."

Applesauce. Mostly water, right? No big deal. I can't imagine how any human being could eat applesauce without potato pancakes, but that's me. So Henry gets a container of applesauce and a spoon, and he shuts up for approximately 30 seconds.

"Now I need a slice of American cheese," he announces.

"Henry, dinner is four minutes away. Four minutes!"

"Four minutes is One, Two, Three—" he gasps for breath, "FOUR, and that's SO LONG."

"No, you're not having American cheese," I tell him. No. I am firm. I am invincible. I am Mother. No little kid's going to push ME ar—

"Mom," says Henry, "You have to be more appreciating."


"You have to be more appreciating, and gentle, and loving, and kind."

I look at him. He's giving me that face, with the big cow eyes and the rosy cheeks and those stupid crazy eyelashes. Actually it's just his face the way it always is. But when you really look at that face, you're helpless.

"You need to be gentle to me," he repeats. He smiles. He's won. He knows it. "Cats in the Cradle" is playing in my head and my eyes are tearing up and ONE SLICE OF AMERICAN CHEESE, it's not like it's a candy bar, Alice, GOD. Lighten up for once.

"Okay. One slice of American cheese. That's IT."

"I love you so much. You're the best Mommy ever."

Yeah, yeah. I've blown it. I hand him the cheese.

"We're playing the appreciating game," he says as he bites into his cheese slice. "You have to do everything I ask because you appreciate me."

Whoa, boy. No one said anything about a game. I tell him as much, but he's insistent. "We're playing the Appreciating Game. You do everything I say because I'm just so good. THAT WAS THE DEAL."

We like to do this lately, this rewriting of recent history. Sadly no stenographer is present to support the non-crazy version of events, so I decide to ignore him.

"Do you hear me? Don't ignore me! You're appreciating me because you love me! You ARE LOVING ME!"

I turn my back to attend to something else boiling over, and when I turn back, he's standing right behind me. I yelp.

"Mommy, we have to play the appreciating game, because I said so," he tells me. "And then we're playing another game. I have so many games in my head."

It took all of my strength not to run screaming into the night.

Reader Comments (52)

Please appreciate me by sending large quantities of white chocolate. NOW.

thank you very much.
March 14, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterWoman with Kids
"I have so many games in my head" would keep me up at night. If you develop a twitch, I'll understand.
March 14, 2007 | Unregistered Commenterfairly odd mother
Better the games in his head than the voices...
March 14, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterVelma
When my son was 4 he would come up with some outrageous scenario and start it off with, "My head's telling me to..." Freaked the shit out of me. I remember whining to my mom about it (for there was no internet conversing yet.) I eventually got used to it and can happily report that he is now nearly 15 years old and--oh, wait he just threw a hissy fit re: his ipod and our computer. Never mind. I can happily report nothing. Best of luck to you, Alice.
March 14, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterLibby
i swear i could have written this EXACT post!
March 14, 2007 | Unregistered Commenterali
Just don't change the lightbulbs in the chandelier while standing on a ladder on the magnificent balcony of your mansion while he manically drives around on his big wheel, getting closer...closer...closer.... OK?

OK then.
March 14, 2007 | Unregistered Commenteremjaybee

Ok, this article mentions Alice of the blog Wonderland and then links to something... Is it still you? Or is it ANOTHER Alice/Wonderland combo? Cos if it's you, small world, been reading you for awhile. If not... I've been duped!

March 14, 2007 | Unregistered Commenteranonymousey
I hate to say it, Alice, but I think that Henry may be Chucky.
March 14, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterMelanie
"I have so many games in my head"

And somewhere in the distance, a dog howled...
March 14, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterDave S.
Hey, you made me laugh out loud in a silent room, causing my husband to jump three feet.Good. He didn't need to be reading in such peaceful tranquility ANYway.:)
March 14, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterMelanieinOrygun
mmmm... potato pancakes....
March 15, 2007 | Unregistered Commentercarl
Honestly, this story is scarier than anything Stephen King ever wrote.
March 15, 2007 | Unregistered Commentermarcheline
Henry cracks me up.

The way to win the Appreciating Game is, after giving him the piece of American cheese, to tell him it's YOUR turn now and he has to appreciate YOU and do everything YOU ask. I guarantee he won't want to play anymore.

March 15, 2007 | Unregistered Commenterzoom!
I am so, so glad to hear that I'm not the only mother who's paralyzed with guilt over the "Cat's In the Cradle" song. Whenever I'm at my busiest, my son has a distressing habit of looking deeply into my eyes and pleading, "Mommy, I want you." And then I know that he will someday go on a three-state killing spree with a rusty can-opener if I do not stop doing the dishes that instant and play light saber battles. And I have to be Darth Vader.
March 15, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterHeather
LOL, for the sake of Henry's future girlfriends please nip that in the bud! I used to go out with a guy who could get me to do anything (no not like that). He'd want me to make him a grilled cheese sandwich at 1 a.m. and I'd say no, it's too late at night. By the time he was done I was begging him to LET me make him a grilled cheese sandwich. I don't know how he did it but as I remember cow eyes (I called them cocker spaniel eyes) played a part!

Luckily I didn't marry him and am happily married to my husband, with whom I have a more equal relationship! ;-)
March 15, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterMauigirl52
What the hell is American cheese and what did it do to your boy??
March 15, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterMignon
Truly he sounds like a manipulative, spoiled brat. I don't find it charming or cute.

March 15, 2007 | Unregistered Commentercloudbuster
Cloudbuster, every child has their moments. It's unfair and unkind to judge his character based on one conversation.Testing limits is a natural part of a four-year-old's development.

March 16, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterGigi
I'm a stenographer. I'll be right over to document everything.

P.S. He's absolutely adorable. Don't listen to the hateful commenters.
March 16, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterB
Cloudbuster, that had to be the silliest comment I have ever read.
March 16, 2007 | Unregistered Commenterquasimodo
I guess I should be thankful that my son only wants to play Old Maid and Go Fish.
March 16, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterErika
Here is a transcript of a conversation I had with my son when he was four...

Son: My other family would have let me do that. My other family was very nice to me. They let me play in the street. They let me play with broken glass.

Me (astounded): Really? It sounds like this "other family" had some real issues. Where are they now? I'd like to talk to them.

Son: Well, actually, they're all dead now.

Me: ....?

I'm happy to report that my son is now a creative, well-balanced and sweet 12yo, and hasn't murdered anyone in their sleep (that I know of).

March 16, 2007 | Unregistered Commenterdesigningmama
Personally, I loooove sour cream on my potato pancakes.

March 16, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterTere
I agree with Gigi's response to "Cloudbuster." Four-year-olds are just trying to see what they can get away with! And, like the one up above who had his "other family" who let him do whatever he wanted, I had an imaginary group of friends and family (based on my grandmother, as I look back on it) who were equally permissive and fun. Four-year-olds are into fantasies and there is nothing wrong with what Henry was doing. It's normal. I only said what I said about my former boyfriend as a joke, I don't really think Henry has issues!
March 16, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterMauigirl52
Wow, looks like 5 stepped right in there and kicked 4.5 to the curb with extreme prejudice.
March 16, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterHDC

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