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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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Sleep Is
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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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There’s too many cars round here

When we moved I was worried about Henry’s transition to the new neighborhood. I was so sure he would miss Brooklyn like crazy. What sane child wouldn’t? When he has friends in his building and delicious muffins available for purchase at every corner? Not to mention Frompy? But everyone said I was being silly. “He’s going to forget all about Brooklyn like that,” they said, and snapped their elegant, manicured fingers. (I only solicit opinions from the manicured. For obvious reasons.) My mom, and I’m not exaggerating when I say this, took my head and plunged it into an enormous bowl of rice pudding, while shrieking, “He’ll be fine! Listen to me!” I don’t know why she carries around the rice pudding. I’ve begged her not to.

It turned out this was a lie. Not about the rice pudding because THAT PART IS TRUE—about him not missing his old hometown. During those first few weeks, every time he enjoyed a contemplative moment, his lower lip would quiver and he would turn to me and sob, “I miss Brooklyn.” And the tears, they would flow like the stinky Gowanus, if the Gowanus flowed, which if you ask me it does not. What did he miss? I asked, which was a mistake, because he inevitably replied, “My friends,” and then I would start in and we’d be clutching each other and weeping until my husband got home, six hours later.

But the weeping fits began to afflict him in a less regular fashion, and he started to accumulate lots of happy mornings and afternoons. He remembered how that friend he really missed bit him that one time and also he was kind of a jerk (I added that part, about him being a jerk, because I know he was only four but still, kind of a jerk), and we talked about how nice it is to have a backyard (okay, I talked about it, but he agreed) and when, back in Brooklyn, did he ever spend an afternoon splashing around a neighbor's kiddy pool in his Incredible Hulk underpants? Almost never, that’s when!

Still, though, the ennui, it lingers. The other day “Cars and Parties” made its appearance in the iPod shuffle, and he looked at me with his brimming eyes and whispered, “You have to turn this off. My heart is closing down.” (And someone hit this child? you’re thinking. It's unbearable, yet true.) My own heart broken into teeny tiny shards and flew out through my eye sockets, blinding me as I ran for the stereo and shut it all down. I held him for a while and he was better, but then, damn it, it’s a catchy song, and I kept singing it! All night! And he would look at me with these enormous saucer eyes (which I could only sense because I was blind) and he would say, “What do you think you’re doing?” Or maybe he just screamed and threw an X-wing at me. Either way, I got the message.

Reader Comments (44)

My heart is closing down? Oh, so sad here.
June 30, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterSerenity Now
This post? KILLED me.
June 30, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterLuisa
When my daughter was two, we literally moved to the house next door. Everytime we drove into the new driveway and she saw our old house, she'd cry to go home. It was heartbreaking. During the day, had to close all the blinds on that side of the house so she wouldn't accidentally catch a glimpse of "home" and start crying all over again. The people who bought our old house were incredibly unfriendly, so we couldn't even go over to visit! She's now five and, mercifully, doesn't even remember the old house. I don't remember the last time she asked to "go home", but it does eventually end.
June 30, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterTrish
When I was six, my family moved from Chicago to a small town in Georgia. Ever since, my brother and I have wondered how our lives would have been different (and, oh, so much better) if we had stayed in Illinois. We've never completely gotten over the trauma of being displaced, particularly to a place that was much less kid-friendly and far more conformist.

But I'm sure Henry will get over it. Or at least he'll grow to silence his grief and resentment and simply wonder well into his adult life How Things Could Have Been Different.

(Oh, I kid. He's so young! Kids are resilient and adaptive! You're a great parent who can help him cope with anything. And don't you wonder where in the world he came up with "my heart is closing down?" Aw.)
June 30, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterLawyerish
Oh, Henry just kills me. As others have already said, I can't get over how poetic he is.
June 30, 2006 | Unregistered Commentererika
I just had to comment on your previous post about the babysitter. A similar situation happened to me and I reacted the same way. The only difference is that my child is 2-years-old and had trouble explaining the situation fully, except that "She hit me!"

It makes me never want to leave my child with anyone else ever again.

BTW, love the site.
June 30, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterAlecia
I've been in Jersey for a year now and my daughter still misses Philadelphia every day. But, she's adjusted to it much better than the daily lip-quiver she was doing for the first few months. Now I only hear about it once a week or so.

But, I feel their pain. Jersey does that to you.
June 30, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterRockStar Mommy
Yup. We moved away in April. A week ago mine said, "I want to live in New York." I said, "Why?" and he said, "I want to be with my friends and all that's good." I was driving and could barely keep from crying. And everyone told me he'd never look back, too. Our boys are smarter than they were given credit for.
June 30, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterJen
Oh dear lord the heart comment. I could crumple just reading it.
July 1, 2006 | Unregistered Commentershannon
1. "cars and parties." love that song.2. his heart. is closing. down. he's wiser than most of us, i think.3. if you're looking for a new babysitter, i am The Best Babysitter, and i even live in new jersey. i have references! i play children's songs on the geetar! i take nice pictures! i am funny and awesome and reasonably priced!4. and so there you go.
July 1, 2006 | Unregistered Commenterbrandi
Delurking to post a short response to the babysitter incident - I know you have received tons of advice - and someone has probably told you to call your local child welfare department to make a child abuse report. I am a social worker with child welfare in a neighboring state. If you call them to report the incident they should initiate an abuse investigation as this woman was in a caretaking role.Once an investigation is initiated, social workers and/or police would interview you and Henry about this incident in detail. Some social workers might ask Henry non-leading questions about his time with the babysitter - this could possibly elicit additional information about the trips to her house. Sometimes involving children in these kinds of interviews can be traumatizing, but it seems that Henry would handle it quite well.Only you as his mother would be able to balance the cost/benefit ratio of involving the authorities. An option might be to ask for an appointment with a local child welfare social worker to discuss the incident - their services are free. If you do call them - ask for someone who is experienced - the turnover rate in this job is horrendous and some workers may not be as knowledgeable as others in the grey areas. Other workers with years of experience may know the child abuse laws and your options as well as an attorney.I wish you both the best.

July 1, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterMarcelle
Thank you, but we're handling the babysitter incident.

Moving on...
July 2, 2006 | Unregistered Commenteralice
Oh dear. Yes, I know this all too well.

I promise, there will come a day when Henry will tell you that he wants to stay in his new house forever and ever and ever.

My daughters hated leaving Philly, but now they tell me that upon their 18 birthdays, my husband and I will be turned out of "their" house because they aren't leaving, nope, no way.

I promise. The more new memories you make, it will get better and better.

July 2, 2006 | Unregistered Commenterjozet
I'm so glad I found your blog. You're such a gifted writer, and Henry sounds like an amazing child. I'm sorry you and he are experiencing the heartache of moving and missing, and I know it's even more poignant leaving someplace with soul and character like NYC or Paris (as opposed to a suburban housing complex in mid-America, USA--not that there is *anything* wrong with mid-America, USA!)

We moved a LOT growing up, and it was hard...especially the move from center-city Philadelphia to East Nowhere, The South. But now, as an adult, I wouldn't give up any of the wonderful experiences I've had, the friends I've made, the life I've lived in each and every place we lived.

Though we moved 10 times in 18 years, I still remember my address and phone number of every house I've lived in since I was 4 years old. I'm still in touch with at least one friend from every place we lived, from kindergarten through college.

Here's hoping the pain slips away quickly, leaving only good memories. Looking forward to reading more!
July 3, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterCarolie
I am increasingly in love with your humor and your amazing son. I feel like reading about Henry's antics is a glimpse of what is to come with my son (though I pray nobody ever hits my son- I don't know if I could be as calm and adult as you were).

Moving is always impossibly difficult, and I imagine it must be more so for those who really have no say in the matter. Do not fret-- with a wonderful, gentle, listening mother like you, he'll be feeling like home soon enough.

(btw, Oh my! "My heart is closing down."??!! That boy is going to make a wonderful partner and father one day).
July 4, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterNicole
Whatever you do, keep him away from the radio. You don't want to risk having him hear "Brooklyn Roads."
July 5, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterArabella
Poor Henry, but don't fret! I know everyone's been telling you this already. But this will pass, and he'll make new friends and soon he'll say "Brooklyn where?" He has a great Mom to comfort him though.
July 5, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterWaya
I wish I had Incredible Hulk underwear.
July 5, 2006 | Unregistered Commenterdonteatpoop
I moved away from all that was familiar about 9 months ago. I still regularly scream and throw my X-Wing fighter (or is the remote control?) around the room. But now I have a song to listen to while I do it.
July 6, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterBlythe

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