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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)

Why just last week I was at a colleagues "lovely" suburban home and I pointed out that her fothergillas were blooming. Pronounced "father gilla." Still, it doesn't beat ferfilligans.
May 16, 2006 | Unregistered Commentergreenthumb
I am in love with your son. Sigh
May 16, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterJ
Impatiens for the shady spots, marigolds for the sunny ones. Both are hard to kill. I know, I'm a plant murderess myself. And they're SUPPOSED to die at the end of the summer, so then you can throw them away with impunity.

Deep breaths, lots of ice cream, and a work "time-out" (no working on house crap for one whole day). That should bring you back from the edge.

Hang in there, little boys are dreadfully cute. Emphasis on dreadful. :-) (I have two of them myself) The listening does get better around age 4, they then WANT to please you. Ah, the relief!

May 17, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterAni
Not only would I have laughed at your baby nursery/plant nursery joke, I would have riffed off it with some lame comment about looking for infants under cabbage leaves.
May 17, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterVaguely Urban
As I watched the little angel jump up and down on her toddler bed and kick her little legs in fury the other morning (at three in the morning, that is), I thought the exact same thing. How can I sometimes want to leave someone so cute out for the squirrels?

But sometimes I do.
May 17, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterDorothy
Hostas are tough to kill, and great for shady spots. Day lillies are also tough, but mostly do better in sunny areas. I'm also really fond of lily of the valley, but only if you've got a completely shaded really DAMP patch of yard and you think Henry & dog unlikely to eat plants. Many vines are lovely and tough, but ask for advice so you avoid the invasive varieties. Lastly, strawberries of all things are terrific growers and pay dividends to boot!

Good luck!
May 17, 2006 | Unregistered Commenterlizneust
no no silly. you don't EAT children. not without salt anyway.
May 17, 2006 | Unregistered Commenterhonestyrain
You ACTUALLY FOUND the almost forever forgotten Ferfilligan?!?

Rx: Buy a dozen, take them home, and plant them next to the Florcules that are poised on the edge of the precariously perched Gezornan bush. They will reward you with years of uncontrollable hissing that will make your little Mom's secret self-loathing seem like just a bad dream.....
May 17, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterThe "Deetz"
ha ha! nursery! babies! ha!
May 17, 2006 | Unregistered Commenterleahpeah
Ok, so I am an avid gardener and for YEARS, I have been dragging my girls to the 'nursery' to pick out plants and then bring them home to albeit small but loving garden. They kicked, screamed, cried... just HATED going to the nursery..... last weekend was the VERY FIRST time my six year old said "Mommy, let's get some vegies to plant in our garden." Ah, music to my ears and a pleasant trip to the nursery..... though the trip was calm, I wound up planting the veggies all by myself!
May 18, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterJIll
I enjoy your site more than I could describe. I need this. You have given me validation, laughter that I need more than sex these days, and much to think about and the ability to exhale a bit. Thank you.My gosh! Finslippy- you are awesome inspiration for this gal who just started a much needed on line journal (for my own sanity) buy boy howdy you have a TON of comments, fans and readers! WOW!!Now, I am jonesing for some serious ice cream.....thanks again!
May 18, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterTeresa Mattimore
Hang in there. It gets better.

Get a regular sitter and some time to do something for you. It will help when you're reunited with your boy.
May 18, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterKrisco
Great post! As far as the 'edible' and 'candy' toes go - my 3 yr-old son has them too. We call them Tasty Morsels in our house and he screams with glee when I try to 'eat' them. I'm also about to move. Our escrow closes in 2 1/2 weeks and we don't know where we're going yet. What fun.
May 18, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterTracy
I think it's the suburbia that incites the endless irritation. Maybe its all the birds chirping?

Also, I like plants I can DUST.
May 18, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterLena
It's too late for me to read through all these comments and decide whether I'm saying anything new or not, so bear with whatever I type next:

I was walking down the street today thinking about how freaking CRAZY I have been lately, and that Fiery One just keeps saying nice shit to me and kissing my forehead and occasionally breathing through his nose when he's annoyed with me and doesn't know that I can hear it, and I'd do the same for him. I do the same for him. That's fantastic. If we were jobs, we'd fire each other, but we're not. We're way better. We're life together.

What I mean is that your little Henry is lovely.

Oh, dear, gawd. Commenting drunk is not advisable.
May 18, 2006 | Unregistered Commenterschmutzie
There's a Sharon Olds poem called "The Clasp" that hits the whole love-and-rage parenting thing so squarely on the head that I gasped the first time I read it. Google it, or go buy the book...
May 19, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterSarah
Well, I thought your nursery/babies joke was funny. I'm gonna use that on the Home Depot guy the next time I go.And I believe that with the great sense of humor you have you'll make it through this stressful time and come out smelling like roses.I'll be pulling for you.
May 19, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterMelanieinOrygun
I'm only mentioning this because you talk about twirling...but do you know anything about Sensory Processing Disorder? My son was just diagnosed with it and he spins with the best of them. I'm not trying to diagnose or anything, but I hadn't heard of it before. When I started looking into it, I realized that it was what he's got. And there are therapies you can do to curtail the behavior. Anyway, I just thought I'd mention it. Love your blog.

May 19, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterChristina Shaver
Hi Christina! Henry's got some mild sensory issues, but not SPD. Thanks for mentioning it, though.

May 19, 2006 | Unregistered Commenteralice
Hi Alice... Delurking to thank you for this post. SOOOO nice to know I am not alone.

I have a 4 year old, 3 year old and almost 2 year old and I am totally overwhelmed (and sterilized, thank god). All I do is direct traffic ("Come here. Jacob, come here. Jacob, COME HERE. For the love of GOD JACOB, get the HELL over here!), referree arguments, play 20 questions and respond to requests. And lately I have just been losing it far too much.

My 4 year old was looking at a book yesterday and she looked up at me out of the blue and said, "Mommy, when I'm grown up, I'm going to be much nicer than you."

Yeaaaaaaaaaaaaaah. Good times.

May 19, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterSue
What your kid needs is an annoying and extremely poor mannered neighboor kid.

I know little neighboor girl can't help it because her mommy and daddy (you can hear mommy "talking to daddy" because daddy apprently "is not nice to my mommy") are raising the poor thing to be trailer trash what with all the garbage on the back porch (bags and bags really, it's gross) and the two unkempt dogs and ratty looking cats. But I can not STAND that four year old.

And when she is finally FINALLY gone after playing with my daughter all day. I just am SO GLAD I have my daughter and not her, and tend to be a little more lenient with my daughter because OMG it could be so so SO much worse.
May 20, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterNopenname
You're obviously just a bad mom. Any mom worth her salt would have the child under control by now.

(now I am falling on the floor laughing. I am sorry. I am sharing the same space with a small greyhound/beagle/jack russell mix that I can't even control. And I can put her out in the back yard when I get tired of her).
May 20, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterSuebob
ooooh I just picked up some bell pepper sprouts. I'm timing them to see how fast they die.
May 21, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterCandice
I love how honestly you write about your feelings for your son. It's been a long time since my son was that age, but I read your blog and it all comes back to me. Back then we all pretended that motherhood was all lovey and sweet and completely fulfilling all of the time. I remember feeling kind of schizoid as overpowering positive feelings would come on the heels of overpowering negative feelings and vice versa. I miss that emotional intensity. But I don't miss the twirling.
May 22, 2006 | Unregistered Commenterzoom!
I would've laughed - that humor is right up my alley... or at least I would've laughed once I got it - 'cause I'm slow :) But let's be honest - slow people with a keen sense of humor a way better than jerks any day!
May 26, 2006 | Unregistered Commenterjennyonthespot

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