Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Go the F(moon)K To Sleep

So when I say I've been asked to review Go the F**k to Sleep by Adam Mansbach, and that I've perused said book, I do not mean to imply that I have been contacted by Mr. Mansbach or his agent or his publicist or his publisher or his anybody....or that I was mailed a book or am going to receive any under-the-table money for a better-than-stellar critique (I wish).  What I mean is....an actual real-life friend and fellow attachment parent / unschooler type person asked me to give my opinion (via my blog) on the book.  I had seen the book when it made the rounds on Facebook before Facebook took it off because of the fact that the cover has a big F, then a moon, and then the letter K on it.  That's right.  The moral majority at Facebook wasn't fooled by that moon! They are, however, apparently fooled by every status update of my teen "friends" none of whom bother with a moon, unless it is in one of their pornographic photos, that unlike breastfeeding pics, are also not considered offensive.  Anyway - when it was still circulating...I read the entire thing....even the pages with no moon.  And I laughed my A-moon off.

Apparently, some parents have taken offense at this book.  I think they totally get that it is an Adult Picture Book....they get that.  They're not under the impression they're supposed to read this book to their babies and toddlers.  But they're offended by its tone, which they take to be disrespectful to the rights/needs of a child and the relationship with its parents.  Now you know how I am folks....I'm the last person to tell you how to feel...I find it incredibly difficult to exert my will (see how hardcore attachment / unconditional aka Alfie Kohn I am?) over someone else....or to invalidate or trivialize your feelings of indignation....I can rarely even give a direct order of any kind.  Ask my kids....I will merely suggest TO DEATH but I will not TELL YOU TO DO SOMETHING.  I just won't stop suggesting until either your head explodes or you follow my suggestion, whichever comes first.  Ellie recently said to me, "God, just tell me to come home..." during a phone conversation about how late the hour was and her not being home and all. And I said, "You know I can't do that."  Because I can't, alright?  I'm a Sick Person.  I want the Rest Of The World to come to the general conclusion that I am Right About Everything under their own accord. No matter how long it takes me to get them to come to that conclusion.

So where was I? Oh yes.  The book and its critics and their delicate dispositions.  I never tell people what to think or feel - but really, if you're one of the people upset over this book....LIGHTEN UP.

The book has page after page of beautiful artwork found in all truly classic picture books, illustrated by Ricardo Cortes. I like Ricardo Cortes immensely, even though I don't know him.  I'm basing my opinion of him based on his Amazon biography, which has a photo of him looking like a young Carlos Santana, and factoids about how he has also illustrated books about marijuana, electricity, the Jamaican Bobsled Team, and Chinese Food.  What's not to like?  About ANY of those things? 

Accompanying Mr. Cortes's beautiful illustrations is the poetic prose of Mr. Mansbach.  I want to say I like Mr. Mansbach in the same way I like Mr. Cortes, but the truth of the matter is that I looked at his biography and he is the successful author of some wonderful-sounding novels and that pretty much just turns me into a jealous green-eyed monster so sorry....like to love him but, no. He's smug. I know this because I would be smug if I were in his shoes.

I did, however, order up a couple of his novels (The End of the Jews and Angry Black White Boy) on Amazon.  Even though he didn't ask me to. Or send me a free book for a critique so that you, my 20 or so peeps (and I know that most of you are here by accident - directed here by the wicked sense of humor of the Google Gods) can go all Oprah-Bookclub-Crazy and overwhelm Amazon. 

Mr. Mansbach's prose begins innocently enough....sounding like any other lovely childrens' picture book about bedtime...Runaway Bunny comes to mind, as does Raffi's Baby Beluga, the song turned board book.  Only each page ends in some version of the phrase....Go the fuck to sleep.

The tone becomes a tad more desperate with each page, with the author falling into the pits of despair and questioning his ability to successfully parent this child who is supposed to just go to sleep after all - with a quiet song and story and hug and kiss.....like all the kids do in all of the other picture books about bedtime.  And all this author wants to do (as it turns out) is join his (now sleeping) wife/partner on the couch in the den to watch a freaking movie like normal folks after the kids go to sleep only his kid won't go to sleep. 

My opinion?  This is the best book ever written.  This is the most honest, hilarious, heart-warming, and inspiring book about nighttime parenting.  I know you're wondering how I can use the phrase Night-Time Parenting, thereby bringing up the God-Like Dr. Sears, in the same breath with a guy who just pleads like crazy for his kid to go the fuck to sleep...but in all seriousness, where night-time parenting is concerned....the one thing missing from the general nasty business is humor.  There is darned little of it in respect to this particular aspect of parenting....those horrible, frustrating, and exhaustive sleepless nights...wondering why your kid, who obviously hasn't read any of Dr. Sears books, won't just go the F**K to sleep.  Because you used to have a life, right?  You used to watch TV, read, catch a show....and now all you can do is be chained to this kid's bed/crib while your popcorn gets cold.  And then you resent the kid just a little, and then you hate yourself just a little, because after all - this must be all your fault because clearly, everyone else's kid is freaking SOUND ASLEEP. 

AP People - here's my disclaimer.  YES - the baby/toddler would be better off sleeping with Mom and Dad and nursing all night like a soft little kitten blah blah blah....and mine did that yada yada yada....but dang it - I still wanted out of that bed!  The dishes needed washing....I needed to pee....and I had something like 8 unopened movies from Netflix.  I would disconnect my nipple from the sleeping angel's mouth and begin my escape only to have said sleeping angel turn into a burrowing, snorting, enraged piglet hysterically searching for the breast.  And I'd reattach the piglet to my breast...feeling the call of a million other things....and think, "God....why won't you just go the f**k to sleep?"

This book reminds parents that they're not alone.  Because nobody feels more alone than a parent trying to get a baby to sleep.  Nobody.  This book is a humorous lifeline to the rest of the night-time parenting community; to the parents who very well might look as if they have their shit together on their daytime blogs, books, and tv shows....who arrive looking rested for playdates and such....but who won't mention under the bright, blazing sun that the night before had found them curled up in a ball on the floor or awkwardly crammed into a jr. bed or hanging on for dear life at the very edge of a king-sized bed for fear that moving the baby over one inch would be taken as a General Announcement of an All Night Play Fest.....who might have whispered their own personal version of When Will This Ever End and Why Won't You Go the F**k to Sleep all night long.  If the pages of this book make one red-eyed parent smile instead of resenting his wakeful child....or at least smile while recognizing he's not the only one currently resenting his wakeful child, then it has its place in the world of night-time parenting literature.  Even with the F-Bomb.  Actually?  Because of the F-Bomb.  Because sometimes it just feels good to drop it, and the middle of the night with a kid who won't go to sleep is definitely one of those times. Even if it's under your breath or in your head or within the pages of a fabulous new book.


  1. I agree! I totally loved the book when I saw it going around on Facebook. In fact, I immediately went to Amazon to order it as a Father's Day gift for my husband and was bummed that is not actually going to be out in print yet, apparently.

  2. Meaning, not in time for Father's Day, to clarify. :)

  3. I feel like saying it every night - have been since I was pregnant of my son, ie about 7 years now. Why the F**K can't my children jus let me sleep?

  4. Okay, this books sounds like it would have got us through our night last night. Only, our kids are 8 and 10.

    8!!!!!! and 10!!!!! Agh, when will it EVER end?

    The book sounds awesome, but your review: Awesome-est. I just love your words, and coming here. Every single time I think: Yes. Or, YES. Or, HA! (in a good way, the best possible way).

    So I'm glad I get to come here, after the night we had last night, and think, There's a book out there, just for me, and there's a deeply funny, Real mama out there, with words just for me, and the world is tilting back to Right.

  5. I need to read this book! You know...after Bug goes .....to sleep;)

  6. Amy - this would be an awesome father's day gift...especially for a new dad - I hadn't thought of that! I hope it is out by then? you can pre-order it.

    Jade and Helena - your kids will Never Ever let you sleep. I'm not up much with the 7-year-old, or the 9-year-old, but the 16-year-old basically stays up all night and that bothers me because I'm one of those people who thinks everyone should go to sleep when I do. The 13-year-old is a frequent waker who walks around all night - often loudly fixing himself something in the kitchen. The 18-year-old is often out driving around in her own car which means not only do I not sleep, I do not breathe. My own dad says he can't sleep because he's so worried about the general lack of discipline in our household. It makes you want to run up to every pregnant woman and go "WHAT WERE YOU THINKING? YOU WILL NEVER EVER EVER EVER SLEEP AGAIN!!"

    Cheesey - LOL. When Bug goes to sleep - that is hilarious.

  7. a.fucking.men.
    best book review.

  8. Love the review! And yes, it is a funny book. My only problem with it is that I didn't think of it first. Which really pisses me off to no end. And sadly, I once screamed those words out. Yeah, not my finest hour. I really couldn't stand John in his few weeks of life. How's that for honesty. But I really am a good parent. Really! I haven't strangled one yet. When Claire was born and slept through the night on day one, I woke up sure that she must have died some time during the evening. I wasn't used sleeping.
    And now, last evening, our dog, who is old and probably won't last the year, was walking around driving me nuts. I should have gotten up and let him out. But I was tired. This morning, I found that he left me a nice present on the carpet. So see, even when your kids are older, it doesn't end.
    And what is with your Joel being up all night? I couldn't handle that. m.
    p.s. I'm not checking my comment for typos or missing words. You'll just have to deal. m.

  9. Thanks Pamela!

    @Mark - I am not a good newborn parent. I hate that about myself, but it is true. I could easily be happy with ten hours of sleep and so you can see as how that might be a problem with a newborn. And I only found one missing word in your comment. Thanks for commenting! I only had to beg once!

  10. Don't be a dumb girl! You don't have to beg, just give me a second to get over to your blog. You know that I'll show up. Have I let you down yet? Now I'm wondering if I have. m.

  11. And here's the part where I tell Mark to stop over-thinking. Seriously, stop it...or you'll hurt your pretty little head!

  12. I need to meet you in real life sometime! Love your review, can't wait to get my paws on the book. Is it really not quite out yet? How'd you get a copy? If I'd had any sleep in the last 17 months (and 2 days, but who's counting? Oh, right, me..) I might be able to go look it up myself and pre-order or something.
    Not feeling that awesomely coordinated at the moment. Nothing clever to say. Just love what you said here.

  13. Ugh! I would rather not remember that part of my life. And I agree with Mark, it's bothersome that I didn't write this book.

    I know that I'm new around here, and haven't commented much so I probably shouldn't say anything about how I'm waiting, rather impatiently, for you to finish writing about your love for your last two children. . .so I won't say anything.

  14. Bekki - you can pre-order it on Amazon...don't know when it ships. If any of you pre-order and receive the book and like it and want to review it on Amazon...mention where you heard about it!

    Carri - Just so you know....you're not alone in impatiently waiting for me to do something. Jasper's waiting for me to come read to him, Camille is waiting for me to come watch her dance, Jules is waiting for me to do something and I can't even remember what it is now so maybe he doesn't remember either which would be a win-win situation. BUT I am going to do that post. Super soon, too.

  15. Ya, the sleepless nights never do end ... I have a 17-yr-old who is out late for various reasons, almost every night these days, and I wake up thru the night thinking, "Is he home yet?" Even after he is safely home, I'll wake up in a panic before remembering. Because my subconscious is totally fixated on him being in danger, and that's where I start out every time I wake up. Apparently, in between the multiple panic attacks, I do get a few ZZZs in. But this is worlds better than parenting a baby!! Yuck, bleah, cripes -- so glad those days are over forever.