Go the $%&$ to Sleep

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Go the $%&$ to Sleep

Warning, adult language at the link:

http://www.slate.com/id/2297399/

I'm sure that many of you have seen the "picture book" that has gone viral on the internet - Adam Mansbach's "Go the #%$& to Sleep."

The odd, rageful, beautiful little book's inspiration lies in the commingling of insipid bedtime story rhymes with the inner monologue of the wildly irritated parent: "The owls fly forth from the treetops./ Through the air, they soar and they sweep./ A hot crimson rage fills my heart, love. / For real, shut the #$%^ up and sleep." The stylish parody relies for its humor and frisson on a certain level of frustration, an over- the- top, pent-up fury toward one's children, because without that fury, it's simply not that funny. The idea of saying "shut the $%&* up" to a 3-year-old is hilarious and enthralling only if you are channeling an awful lot of that "hot crimson rage." As one Amazon reviewer puts it, "The sanity we give up as conscientiously-parenting adults makes bonding experiences like this so worth it!"

First of all, is this book funny, or just distasteful?

Second of all, the author of this article argues that the reason we find it funny (if you do find it funny) is in short, that we are overly involved in our kids, and that we secretly resent them for it. Also that we are kind of pathetic and undersexed too.

In Jokes and Their Relation to the Unconscious, Freud writes about the "hostile purpose" of jokes. He argues that jokes are liberating and give us pleasure when they articulate the anger we are not allowed to express in everyday life. Here of course, that anger or hostility is aimed at children, at big-eyed toddlers padding around in their strawberry pajamas, and that is what is both exhilarating and disturbing about the book. There is a nastiness in Go the F**k to Sleep, an undercurrent of resentment that is comic, or "cathartic," as another Amazon reviewer put it, only to parents who are pretty radically subjugating themselves to a certain kind of kid-centered drabness, and judging from the book's runaway success, that would be a lot of parents.

Somewhere in the space between the book's lush pictures and obscene words lies a kind of existential despair that is very particularly ours. In the epic effort to get the child to bed, amid endless requests for drinks and teddy bears and stories and other kidlike stalling tactics, Adam Mansbach writes, "This room is all I can remember./ The furniture crappy and cheap," and "My life is a failure, I'm a $%&*-@$$ parent" while illustrator Ricardo Cortés evokes a mood of depressive intensity, an almost fantastical restlessness, with his drawings of dim interiors and sleeping creatures and bespectacled dads in relaxed-fit jeans and twinkling black nights and red skies. The portrait is of a very ordinary family life, but what is revealing, what may have lead to all the ecstatic blurbs, like Jonathan Lethem's calling it "genius," is its Sartre-like bleakness and claustrophobia.

What exciting adult rendezvous is the sleepless child interrupting in Go the F**k to Sleep? It is his parents trying to watch a video, the mother under a blanket, the popcorn in the microwave. If the child refusing to sleep brings to mind the young Marcel in Remembrance of Things Past yearning for a kiss from his fragrant, bejeweled mother amid the clinking wine glasses of a glamorous adult dinner party, that is not what we are talking about here. We are talking about two slouchy, exhausted people trying to watch a television screen somewhere in each other's proximity. You can see why the father is so angry and unhinged; the precious adult time he is desperately fighting to preserve is so paltry, so modest, so barely there.

One wonders if this hostility toward the child, who is naturally and rightfully manipulative, is just a tiny bit misplaced. If we are raising a generation that sees the whole world as an expanse of devoted maids and butlers, if we ourselves are overly beholden or enslaved to our children's anxieties and desires, isn't it our own fault? Likewise, if we can't manage to hire a baby sitter and get out of the house, if we have made of the conventional nuclear family structure something stifling, airless, it can't really be the fault of a 4-year-old, resourceful and mischievous as he may be. We are, after all, to blame for our own self-sacrifice, and if we are being honest and precise, it's not exactly self-sacrifice, tinged as it is with vanity, with pride in our good behavior, with a certain showiness in our parenting, with self-congratulation.

The book, in all its cleverness and artfulness and ingenuity, raises certain other questions: Are they having sex, these slouchy rageful parents? Not enough, perhaps. When the father turns back to the waking child's bedroom, we look out at the comfy, sexless, vaguely depressive scene of his wife sprawled asleep on the couch under an ugly old blanket. No wonder the slouchy dad is full of rage. No wonder all those slouchy dads and moms who just want to watch a movie and eat some microwave popcorn find this book so funny, so transporting; no wonder it makes them feel, as the publicity materials suggest, "less alone." But if those sweet-faced children, so gorgeously drawn by Ricardo Cortés, could talk back would they say: "Put on a ^*&^ dress. Have a @#%$ drink. Stop hovering over us. Live your own *&^^% life."

Thoughts?

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The description is a little off. The pictures of boy the child and the adult changes from page to page. It's universal; not a sexless, resentful, over-indulging couple. Most of the kids look really happy. The adult who sneaks out to watch the movie after his child falls asleep isn't the same one who walks his child back to bed.

I like the book. I've made several people listen to it and posted a link on my facebook. Samuel L. Jackson's reading is perfect!

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I love this book and my husband has asked me to buy him a copy for his bookshelf. We find it funny and it reflects the way we have felt over the years with our children.

I feel that the author of the second article is off base. I dont resent my children. I have made the choice to be home with them and I often make the choice to miss bedtime and go out with friends as well, but the majority of bedtimes fall to DH and I, especially in those times when bedtime is an issue (for example, after we had DS, DD refused to go to bed without calling us in a million times). During those times I would not put bedtime onto a babysitter as I feel I have way more patience with my own child than they would have, plus, I want my babysitters to come back:). I actually find this article to be pretty insulting to parents who have chosen to give a portion of their lives to their children. If I was subjugated by my child, the child would be sitting on the couch between the parents, not stuck in his room IMO. Plus, Who doesnt enjoy a good movie night snuggled on the couch under a blanket with your SO? I know in our house it is usually just a prelude to ........more;)

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I thought the book was really funny too. I was actually kind of surprised by the condemnation in the article, I guess because I felt that the whole premise of the book was such a universal parenting experience. My DS has recently started going through this phase of refusing to go to sleep when we put him to bed (he was always an easy sleeper before, so this is a rude shock) and so I know well that sort of bewildered frustration when the kid just will NOT go to sleep. I thought the depictions of the parents wanting to watch a movie and then falling asleep under an old blanket were funny, not depressing. But at the end of the day, I can't agree that it means that I resent my son or that I'm too "involved" in him. It makes me wonder if the author of the article even has kids.

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"Alissa_Sal" wrote:

I thought the book was really funny too. I was actually kind of surprised by the condemnation in the article, I guess because I felt that the whole premise of the book was such a universal parenting experience. My DS has recently started going through this phase of refusing to go to sleep when we put him to bed (he was always an easy sleeper before, so this is a rude shock) and so I know well that sort of bewildered frustration when the kid just will NOT go to sleep. I thought the depictions of the parents wanting to watch a movie and then falling asleep under an old blanket were funny, not depressing. But at the end of the day, I can't agree that it means that I resent my son or that I'm too "involved" in him. It makes me wonder if the author of the article even has kids.

Yes to all of this! How is it that putting my kid to bed at night is subjugating myself to him and hovering too much? Hiring a babysitter once in a while isn't going to magically make my kids fall asleep faster all those other nights that I am (and should be!) home with them. That's just dumb.

I think the thing that makes this book funny is the fact that it takes something wildly inappropriate that most people have probably thought (or at least some form of it) and declares it "out loud." That's some of the best comedy - parodies, taking something ironic or slightly funny and blowing it WAY out of proportion, or people saying things that the general public might think but would NEVER say because it's not quite appropriate. That's why sitcoms on TV have such larger-than-life characters - Kramer, Ray Romano's mom, Joey on Friends, Jack on Will and Grace, Neil Patrick Harris' character on How I Met Your Mother, etc.

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Oh, and ethanwinfield, I definitely agree about Samuel L. Jackson's reading of it. Perfect!!!!

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I'm the minority, I didn't really find the concept all that funny. Too overt, for my taste.

Have not read the book, so have a hard time commenting on the "get a life" philosophy....though I do think that some parents are way, WAY in need of getting a life outside of their children....not sure that I can say that this book reveals that.

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I didn't really laugh at it but certainly wasn't offended in the least bit; there have been nights that I really wish my kid would just go to sleep so it's relatable. I disagree that it is amusing because parents secretly resent their children, we're allowed to be frustrated with being a parent...we're human.

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I really did laugh out loud because the first time I read it was the morning after J pulled this with me for hours. I could totally relate (in my head) in the moment because she just kept bouncing out of bed for one reason or another. Kids do that and I know it's natural for parents to feel frustrated when they're challenging what is expected of them. That has nothing to do with resentment, being sexless, or pathetic in wanting to have "me" time. What made me laugh is me relating to the child continuously springing out of bed and the parent thinking, "Seriously, for realz?" I have not heard the narration and it never dawned on me the parent could actually be verbal in these thoughts. Showed DH after, who also found it to be hilarious.

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As the mother of seven, I found it hysterical. I especially liked the youtube version with Samuel L. Jackson narrating. I would not read it to my child nor do I feel it should be read to children. It's like Dr. Seuss for adults. Sometimes you have to know you are not alone and be able to laugh in order to deal with difficult situations

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Sincere question: Do people really not "know that they are not alone" before or until reading this book? I mean, did people not hear stories about how babies make you lose sleep before having them? Do people not talk to their friends or know that other parents out there have a hard time with kids and sleep? Should this spawn a whole new line of books?

*eat your $%)(# food*,
*just wear the (*#*&^# outfit? *
*stop saying Mom for two #(*&$# seconds!*

I don't know. I think that somehow I just find it a little crass. Like the "save the boobies" thing. I mean, I get what they are going for with that and with this, both just are too overt for me or my sense of humor, I guess.

That, or maybe I am totally just missing some of the funny as I do have three really great sleepers Biggrin

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Obviously it's not something children should ever read, but I found it to be very entertaining. This man touches on things that we have all thought for years (especially if you have more than one child!) but didn't have the b@lls to say out loud! Kudos to this guy! I haven't laughed that hard in a long time!

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"Potter75" wrote:

Sincere question: Do people really not "know that they are not alone" before or until reading this book? I mean, did people not hear stories about how babies make you lose sleep before having them? Do people not talk to their friends or know that other parents out there have a hard time with kids and sleep? Should this spawn a whole new line of books?

*eat your $%)(# food*,
*just wear the (*#*&^# outfit? *
*stop saying Mom for two #(*&$# seconds!*

I don't know. I think that somehow I just find it a little crass. Like the "save the boobies" thing. I mean, I get what they are going for with that and with this, both just are too overt for me or my sense of humor, I guess.

That, or maybe I am totally just missing some of the funny as I do have three really great sleepers Biggrin

See, I know its not the point you were trying to make, but I found the bolded hilarious! I guess we just have different senses of humor.

Its not that I felt alone in my kid not sleeping, its that you usually dont discuss those slightly inappropriate thoughts that go through your head in the moment. The swearing, the desire to dump the water on their head or put the pillow over their heads. Things you would never say or do, but think sometimes and may be slightly ashamed of after. It is a bit of a relief to hear these things from others. My favorite page is actually the one where the parent is saying they are a failure as a parent and a horrible human being and I think that really speaks to how life and death these things seem in the moment. That is the sort of think I think this book really speaks to.

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I think that that must be the difference. I'm from the NE, we all have plenty of anger, love to curse, and don't hold back. I'm also a Mom who started her family at 31, and all of my friends are my age, so we had a pretty clear idea of both what we were giving up and what to expect by the time we had kids. My friends and I talk about feeling that way all the time, whether it be from traffic or our spouses, or our kids, so maybe the book just seemed a little obvious to me because we all feel free to share or embrace or relate to one another on those feelings when we have them Smile

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"Potter75" wrote:

Sincere question: Do people really not "know that they are not alone" before or until reading this book? I mean, did people not hear stories about how babies make you lose sleep before having them? Do people not talk to their friends or know that other parents out there have a hard time with kids and sleep? Should this spawn a whole new line of books?

*eat your $%)(# food*,
*just wear the (*#*&^# outfit? *
*stop saying Mom for two #(*&$# seconds!*

I don't know. I think that somehow I just find it a little crass. Like the "save the boobies" thing. I mean, I get what they are going for with that and with this, both just are too overt for me or my sense of humor, I guess.

That, or maybe I am totally just missing some of the funny as I do have three really great sleepers Biggrin

I absolutely know that there are many mom's out there who think they are alone. Not alone in that their kids won't sleep, but alone in feeling frustration and sometimes anger that I think the book illustrates. Also, I think parents feel like if there kids are horrible sleepers or if they give in or even give up, that they are bad parents and that they are alone in that. 100%.

For example, a friend fo mine a year back was talking to me about her DD when she was a baby and admitted that sometimes she felt like a horrible parent. As we talked she told me how when her DD was a baby she was sleeping with her on the couch and she rolled off. She almost cried talking about it. I was like "WTF? Everyone had dropped their child!" she was shocked.

As to the book...I find it hilarious. I don;t think it is some big parenting statment and I think people who take it that way and get offended almost prove the point that we take parenting too seriously soemtimes. If you don't find it funny, then so be it. I however find it hilarious and it reminds me of my son, to the T. I love the book so much I actually boughtit for my SIL who is due in Oct. and she loved it. My favorite part was walking into BarnesNNoble and asking the lady "Um, can you help me find Go the F@$* to Sleep."

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It wasn't the whole "finding out I'm not alone" thing that I found so funny - I think it was more just the verbalization of what I know is a pretty universal parenting experience. The whole "It's funny because it's true" thing. I can see what you mean about not thinking that it's funny because it's so obvious, but I guess that is what I thought was so funny about it. Like, people always try to dress up these parenting experiences in the most sensitive and enlightened way, but under it all, I think most of us really are just saying in our heads "For realz, go the eff to sleep" even if we can't say it out loud. I don't know, it just really struck my funny bone for some reason. But crass usually doesn't bother me. I can see how it might bother someone else.

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It might be that you have 3 great sleepers, Melis. Cause man, I said that same exact phrase (in my head) I don't even know how many times with Violet. Fi is a great sleeper, so I have only been frustrated a few times with her. But man, when you get 'blessed' with a baby who does.not.sleep for the life of you, it's like a whole other dimension of suckage.

Although, maybe it's that I like making use of a good swear word now since I couldn't for so long being LDS. Like one of my fridge magnets says, 'everything is funnier with the word f*ck in it'. Blum 3

I did find this book funny...I think I reposted the SLJ reading of it on facebook.

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"JorgieGirl" wrote:

It might be that you have 3 great sleepers, Melis. Cause man, I said that same exact phrase (in my head) I don't even know how many times with Violet. Fi is a great sleeper, so I have only been frustrated a few times with her. But man, when you get 'blessed' with a baby who does.not.sleep for the life of you, it's like a whole other dimension of suckage.

Although, maybe it's that I like making use of a good swear word now since I couldn't for so long being LDS. Like one of my fridge magnets says, 'everything is funnier with the word f*ck in it'. Blum 3

I did find this book funny...I think I reposted the SLJ reading of it on facebook.

That's funny.

There's a time and a place for certain intensifiers. This is one of those times.

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"Alissa_Sal" wrote:

It wasn't the whole "finding out I'm not alone" thing that I found so funny - I think it was more just the verbalization of what I know is a pretty universal parenting experience. The whole "It's funny because it's true" thing. I can see what you mean about not thinking that it's funny because it's so obvious, but I guess that is what I thought was so funny about it. Like, people always try to dress up these parenting experiences in the most sensitive and enlightened way, but under it all, I think most of us really are just saying in our heads "For realz, go the eff to sleep" even if we can't say it out loud. I don't know, it just really struck my funny bone for some reason. But crass usually doesn't bother me. I can see how it might bother someone else.

This, exactly. Having 6 kids with different experiences with all of them, I can also add that Melis is truly blessed to have 3 great sleepers. I thought we were finally blessed to have one who would go to bed when told and actually stayed in bed to go to sleep. I thought we were in heaven that she was such a good listener with the twins sleeping so soundly next to her. But since they turned 2 1/2, it quickly went to pot with J instigating and drawing in the other two who now feed off each other. Some days, it has gotten better but other days, J has gotten very creative in her reasons to get out of bed. I stand over the twins' cribs and tell them to lay down, close their eyes, and go to sleep when tucking them in. They sweetly smile, say "Otay", lay down and close their eyes with their huge grin still going strong. It's so stinkin cute! Five seconds later, they're peaking to see if I left. They are really good listeners... until I leave their bedroom.

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I don't think it's so much people not knowing they were not alone in this experience or not expecting it, just that many feel it makes them a bad parent to verbalise feelings like this (and other frustrations like mentioned earlier) in public. Last night I could really relate, my DS was waking every half hour or so until 4am when he decided he wanted to play. Around 5am I managed to get him back to sleep and he then stayed asleep and is still sleeping. I was certainly thinking go the eff to sleep by 5am this morning.

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You know, I really think that how you relate to the sleepless thing makes a HUGE difference. I thought it was hilarious, my DH (who sleeps like a log and literally DID NOT wake up when a building next door burnt down) didn't think it was funny at all. Something crazy happens to your brain when it has been deprived a whole nights sleep for a year.

I should add that we don't swear at all in our house and I particularly dislike the f-word. Regardless though, the sentiment behind the book still made me laugh.

Hot crimson rage ROFL

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I would like to note for posterity that my third baby ate every hour or two all night (and all day) long for a solid 8 or 10 weeks. Not a big deal with a first baby, but knowing that I had to wake up and be "on" for a 2 and a 3 year old all day after being a milk machine all night long was awfully exhausting. They are all great sleepers now, but I did put in some time. I'm in no way saying that Mom's should not have those thoughts, I just assumed that everyone had them and that talking about them with ones girlfriends was kosher in most areas. I sometimes forget that I live in the land of easy and allowable frustration and anger here in the corridor between DC and NY Smile

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I've read it, listened to the Samuel L Jackson version, shared it with many, and laughed hard all while remembering all the nights I had many of the same thoughts going through my head. LOVE the book! Smile

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Kind of off topic, but is anyone else seeing a huge Verizon ad blocking out part of the article I posted? I swear that wasn't there when I posted it, and now I can't figure out how to get rid of it. It isn't there when I hit "Edit".

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I just had to add that my favorite part was something like, "That's BULLsh!t! You're lyin'!" etc. The way SLJ read it was hilarious!!! I have *definitely* felt that one, usually in regards to a "bad dream" someone had.

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I think it's hysterical! I'm almost positive every mother on the planet has thought to themselves something similar. I knew what I was in for in deciding to have a child, and was happy to give all sorts of things up, but damn, it gets frustrating sometimes just the same! Smile

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My DS was up this morning at 5:20 am and continued yelling for me every 10 minutes after that (just long enough for me to almost drift back to sleep) until it was time for me to get up for work at 6:30 am. His problem? Well, once he wanted a drink of water, once he lost his baby teddy bear (it was in the bed with him, just covered up with his blanket), once he was cold (he is fully capable of putting his blanket back on himself once he has kicked it off) and the rest of the times his "socks were on backwards!!!" (the bottoms were slightly twisted to the side of his foot.) I went in there seriously like 4 times over "backwards socks." I finally snapped and said "I don't CARE about your socks. Your socks are FINE. FINE. GO. TO. SLEEP."

You can bet I was thinking "GO THE EFF TO SLEEP."

Soooo tired. Zzzzzzzzz

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"Alissa_Sal" wrote:

My DS was up this morning at 5:20 am and continued yelling for me every 10 minutes after that (just long enough for me to almost drift back to sleep) until it was time for me to get up for work at 6:30 am. His problem? Well, once he wanted a drink of water, once he lost his baby teddy bear (it was in the bed with him, just covered up with his blanket), once he was cold (he is fully capable of putting his blanket back on himself once he has kicked it off) and the rest of the times his "socks were on backwards!!!" (the bottoms were slightly twisted to the side of his foot.) I went in there seriously like 4 times over "backwards socks." I finally snapped and said "I don't CARE about your socks. Your socks are FINE. FINE. GO. TO. SLEEP."

You can bet I was thinking "GO THE EFF TO SLEEP."

Soooo tired. Zzzzzzzzz

Sorry your tired, but I had to laugh when I read this. My DS is a few months older than yours and pulls the same nonsense. Except now that he's potty-trained his new ace in the hole is calling us up because he has to go potty. He'll squeeze out a few drops every 10 minutes to guarantee we'll come back.

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Oh yes, he has figured out that having to use the potty (every 10 minutes) is a great way to procrastinate. But moommm! I have to use the potty!!! Works like a charm every time. :rolleyes:

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My DH is kicking himself for not writing this book years ago. ROFL

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"Spacers" wrote:

My DH is kicking himself for not writing this book years ago. ROFL

We all are!!!