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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. → 

« A post from the slanty room. | Main | Hello. I live in Jersey. »

Settling in but still unsettled.

Yesterday we went to a nursery. To buy babies! I made that joke to, oh, eight people yesterday. “Get it? Babies? Nursery? Ho!” No one laughed. I am surrounded by jerks.

Anyway, yeah, we bought plants and stuff. Unfortunately, I have absolutely no idea how not to kill plants. On the other hand, I am excellent at killing them. Here’s my method.

1. Bring a plant into my house.

2. Attempt to care for it. You’re supposed to water them, right?

3. As it begins its slow journey to the grave, alternate weeks of avoidance and denial with bursts of panicked and clumsy tending.

4. Throw it out. Vow never to buy a plant again.

I walked up to a gaggle of nursery people and asked for their help. I was looking for some lovely yet not-easily-murdered flowery plantiness I could perch on our front stoop. I was hoping one of them would get up, pick out a plant and place it in my hands.

But they kept providing me with information. I couldn’t process it. My mind wheezed.

“You could get a zerbertifora, or a ferfilligan,” they mused.

“Well, isn’t that the obvious choice?” I said.

“Really, you’re safe with any annual,” one of them said.

“What’s an annual?” I asked. They laughed.

“No, really,” I said, and they looked concerned for me.

I ran away from them and continued my disorganized, roundabout search for pretty crap to plant. I grabbed some stuff, but probably it was all the wrong kind. It was hard to concentrate, what with all the yelling at my son I had to do.

These days I like to yell at Henry at least five or twelve times an hour. I feel that this builds character. If I continually address him in a high-pitched shriek, he’s sure to be filled with love and respect for me! So: “WOULDYOUSTAYSTILLYOUCAN’TRUNINHERE.” Or! “STOP. TWIRLING. RIGHT. NOW.” Alternately, “OH MY GOD I NEED TO LOOK AT THIS. THIS PLANT THING. STOP PULLING AT MY ARM. LISTEN. ARE YOU LISTENING. YOU’RE PULLING AT ME SOME MORE. GAAAAAAACK.” When I wasn’t losing my shit, I was tsk-ing at my husband for the loss of his. “He’s just a baby,” I would murmur calmly to him. “Please, have some perspective.” It’s amazing how much more tolerant you can be when you’re merely observing the irritating behavior.

Sadly, most of the time I'm more than an observer. It seems these days that anything I want or need to do will be frustrated by Henry’s opposing desire. I am either being yanked one way when I’m trying to go another or sat upon when I need to get up or pulled off a chair when I need to sit down. He aims to thwart me. All the time. And I’m not enjoying it.

I find myself employing the horrible Clenched Teeth Hiss and the Strangled Cry of Blinding Rage. I am becoming that horrible mother who holds her kid’s hand a leetle too hard and walks a little too fast as he trips behind, yelling “You’re hurting my hand!” These episodes are usually followed by the need to weep or throw up. Or, hell, both! Every day, several times a day, I marvel that I’m not locked away somewhere.

It doesn’t help that I’m enjoying some rather breathtaking back pain (did you know that your back can hurt so much you can barely breathe, and yet you still remain conscious? I know it now! And yes, I’m getting medical attention, thank you concerned readers). And the constant pain is reducing my tolerance to, oh, about none.

It never fails to amaze me how someone I love so very much can incite in me so much anger. That I can be so angry at someone who is so goddamn adorable. When he goes to bed every night, he announces, “It’s time for me to tuck up,” and he pulls his blanket up over his head. Tuck up! Every time he says it I want to eat him. And his little candy toes.

I know we’re all under a crazy amount of stress, and I’m clinging to the hope that we’ll all begin behaving better, and soon. That’s what I’m doing right now—I’m clinging. I know this will pass.

At the end of the nursery trip, as we stuffed our car full of assorted plantery (I made a word!) Henry turned to me and said “I always love you, no matter what.” And then we sure as hell got some ice cream.

Reader Comments (100)

I second the hostas (a green, leafy outdoor plant that flowers) recommendation. No matter what you do, they come back every year. AND they show their leafy fronds right at the beginning of Spring. And, and they look healthy and full of life and you've done nothing except plant them. Once.
May 16, 2006 | Unregistered Commentererika
Moving is so stressful, especially to another state, even if it is near NY. The last time we moved, Aaron and I had a horrendous screaming fight, which involved throwing mashed potatoes. I wish I were joking. Things will iron out, I swear.
May 16, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterSheryl
Annuals have to be planted every year, I like perrenials, they keep coming back no matter how much I neglect them!

The bigger question is, do you have shade, sun or some combination of the two? Maybe go with annuals this year till the trees fill out and you figure out what the summer sun situation is, then it will be easier to figure out what to put where. Sorry I'm so far away, I'd bring you some lilacs, honeysuckle and rose of sharons that you could plant around the perimeter of your yard and in 10 years or so you'll have a beautiful flowering hedge just like mine! I likes my privacy.
May 16, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterBeth in Michigan
My son, who is six says that EXACT same thing whenever I completely loose my shit at him. "Mom, I'll always love you. No matter what." That and, "I'll never give up on you.", as if no matter how much of a crazed PMSing witch of a horrid lady I can be, there is still cause for hope. Oh the guilt!
May 16, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterRobin Dakin
We all love you. No matter that you live in Jersey.
May 16, 2006 | Unregistered Commenterlammarama
Time for a break. Stop doing new house chores, and plan a fun day for the family, where there are no conflicting desires. You and you family need some relaxation more than you need window treatments and fresh paint on the walls.
May 16, 2006 | Unregistered Commenterdithers
thank you so much for posting about the Hiss and the Hard Hand-holding. I've been wondering if how i've been feeling about my 3-year-old is normal, or if i'm just the Worst Mother Since Joan Crawford. Thanks to the commenters, too, because i was really feeling locked up in my own little box of guilt about this.
May 16, 2006 | Unregistered Commenterkristin
You so just described my guilt-ridden red-faced screaming parenting style. I wanna cry because someone GETS IT! And as I'm yelling (though I've managed to refrain in public, but our neighbors have heard I'm sure) I can even hear a voice in my head telling me to calm down. I have managed the more polite approach a time or two, and IT WORKS BETTER! He listens more. But the reactionary parent in me that starts yelling from the word go won't. go. away. Oh how I hate that. Hate it! Then my son will cling to my leg and just as I'm about to shake to try to dislodge him, hollering to get off me already, he kisses my knee and looks up at me grinning, wrinkling his nose and I melt. Oh the restraint! Oh the love! Oh the guilt at what I was about to say! I didn't even say it and I still manage to feel guilty! Recovering Catholic in me. But on the flip side, I don't want to let him run and jump amok and be a little hethen like some people's kids I know. I may post about this on my own blog, just so I don't hijack your comments. But thank you for making me feel not-so-alone in this.

And good luck with the plants.
May 16, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterAndrea
Alice, hang in there. It's *all going to get better*. And when you really feel like everything is collapsing on you, go and celebrate. Hang out the message 'F U WORLD', have the grandparents take away Henry and have some fun for yourself. At least it's a strategy that has kept me sane.

Yucca plants are nigh on impossible to kill, and they look more plant-like than cacti. Dragonplants are also relatively easygoing, and very decorative.
May 16, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterAnna
Your plant care instructions are the same method I use. My husband get so angry when I bring a new plant home. He'll say, "You're just going to murder that one, too....."
May 16, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterDana
Choking. On. Sandwich. Need. Heimlich. Oh the interaction with the gaggle of nursery folk nearly killed me today! Thanks for the laughs. You are a brilliant writer. Hilarious as always.
May 16, 2006 | Unregistered Commenteranother emily
I swore I'd never be the hissy talk, strangled yell mom EVER. Yet, I find myself doing it all the time.

And WTF is up with the twirling. I caught myself pulling my daughter aside before going to the grocery store and saying "Now, there will be NO dancing do you understand?" I sounded like some southern baptist mom dropping her kid off at the school dance. "There will be no dancing, and definitly no groping of the dirty pillows"
May 16, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterSandi
"And then we sure as hell got some ice cream."Every story should end with this sentence.
May 16, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterNichole
Oh, Alice, I feel your pain as we all do. When I was pregnant with my second son, my first one (then age 5) "decorated" my new bed that I'd waited forever for, with stickers! I nearly burst a blood vessel yelling at him. And guess what? He's 14 now and STILL talks about it! So there's that! But, honestly, the day to day stuff will get better. My method is to keep things as simple as possible. No overstuffing the schedule.(In fact, no real schedule.) Boring, but it works for me. I haven't killed anyone yet. And, also, I wish you luck adjusting to suburban life. I've had a crappy time of it myself and I grew up here! You'll do better're you!
May 16, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterJaycee
Hi, I've commented once or twice before, and this is a subject that bears comment. Yes kids learn and use all your buttons, but as an adult who spends waaaayyyyy too much time with her mother, mothers learn to push their kids buttons. Of course our mothers PROGRAMMED the @&%$*^ things in the first place!!!And, as I am the grim reaper as far as plants are concerned, I have actually been asked to not come back to a nursery. By a friend. Who worked there.
May 16, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterJena
I've gotta get some zerbertifora and ferfilligans for my yard! I imagine they might look a little like truffula.
May 16, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterSumo
If you'd like, I would be glad to help point you in the right directions as far as plants go. Just email me!
May 16, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterGinny
I kill plants too. I have also been having some very bad back pain. So I can empathise. Hope your plantery *survive(s).

*wasnt sure if it was plural or singular ;)

May 16, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterLawanda
We have about 8 acres. Spencer is ADDICTED (serious addiction here) to tending to every damned inch of the place. Me? I haven't made it off the front porch in about 2 months. Bleck. Outdoors. Light. Green stuff. Not my thing.

I think there's supposed to be plants inside too, but it's just dirt and the cats keep puking green.
May 16, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterMeg
He always seems to know the exact right thing to say to make you melt. What a cute little devil!
May 16, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterJessie
Re: screaming hissy thing. Yes, all moms do it. Unless they're on crank. So don't feel too bad.

Re: Garden of Doom. Plant some black-eyed susans (rudbeckia). They are like the cockroaches of the plant world. You cannot kill the fuckers once they get going. Plus, very pretty.
May 16, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterSquirrelly
I'm so glad my kids are older. It's amazing they're alive. Now I see young couples with little babies and I snicker into my hand.

About the plants, figure out if you have sun or shade and buy the right plants. You will only love the colorful sun ones, but if you plant them in shade they will die. Keep them watered. Henry will love to help.

And you might want to wait until the back pain subsides before you attempt gardening.

Ferfilligans...that's priceless!
May 16, 2006 | Unregistered Commenterkim
EEEEgads!Have you been hunting me down in the aisles of Target? the produce section at Safeway? the white-carpeted living room surrounded by china knick knacks at a work "bbq" where I chose to take my lovely Scooter as he tears thru the room with a cup of bright red punch?

I have the hiss down pat...sigh.

He calls it my "snappish voice"

"Mom, you're being snappish again!"


Glad to know I'm not alone.

May 16, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterChurch
When I moved to the burbs (from the Slope, I might add) and started spending lots of time in the car I too suffered from debilitating (well, almost) back pain. It helped when I got a foam back support device to put on the car seat.

Also, the plant thing, us city girls have much nicer yards when we hire someone, I'm just making a suggestion here.

May 16, 2006 | Unregistered Commenterclickmom
Good lord, I wanted to comment wittily, but I ran out of steam scrolling all the way down here. Or so I'll say is my excuse.

If, perchance, you do scan all the way down here, Finslippy, let me tell you that moving to the burbs w/your wee family from lovely urban living will knock your socks off, tolerance- & patience-wise. Maybe it's all that fresh oxygen, maybe it's vietnamese take-out deprivation, maybe it's the missing of the friends horribly, but WOW it takes a while to calm yourself down. I did that six months ago, and I have probably only calmed down fairly recently. That, and I read somewhere that boys have some terrific testosterone surge around 3.5 to 4. And that, my dear, is just what we need on the planet, right? MORE testosterone...
May 16, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterKatharine

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