Ah, bedtime! Could there be a more Rockwellian ideal of parenting than the fantasy of snuggling under the covers with your pajama-clad cherubs, reading bedtime stories about baby bunnies together until they drift off to sleep, lulled by the soothing sound of your voice?
If this is your bedtime reality, I offer my congratulations (but believe you're the one in dreamland). For the rest of us parental underachievers, acclaimed novelist and dad Adam Mansbach wrote a bedtime story for parents called "Go the F**k to Sleep."
If the title isn't enough of a clue, this book is really meant for adults. Written and illustrated in the format of a children's storybook, it intersperses all the sweet nothings a parent might say to coax their child to sleep with the R-rated language that's actually going through our exasperated heads.
Here's an excerpt from the book:
The cats nestle close to their kittens.
The lambs have laid down with the sheep.
You're cozy and warm in your bed, my dear
Please go the f@#k to sleep.
The only way I could love this book more would be if its pages were laced with Ambien, so that licking my fingers to turn the pages would actually help me fall asleep after the stress of watching my children stubbornly NOT going to sleep.
As a mom to two energetic boys, now ages 4 and 10, I must've gone through multiple copies of their beloved "Pat the Bunny," because they bit, poked, punched, perforated and even decapitated the bunny. In fact, they did everything but pat that damn bunny. Too bad the parenting books never mentioned that a mom to toddler boys would need a mouth guard and hockey mask just to read bedtime stories.
Those unhelpful parenting books also failed to mention that every night my kids would go through the five stages of grief at bedtime. If you stayed awake in your Psych 101 class, you might recognize these stages:
Denial: "I'm not tired! It can't be bedtime, it's not even dark yet!"
Anger: "You can't make me go to sleep!"
Bargaining: "Please can I have ______ (insert your child's favorite procrastination tactic here, e.g., a glass of water, another story, a trip to the bathroom, a different lovey, another five minutes of snuggling, etc.)"
Depression: Tears and Category 5 tantrums.
However, most parenting books do recommend the importance of a consistent bedtime ritual – bold, underlined, emphasis on the ritual. My kids love their bedtime rituals with fanatical, obsessive-compulsive attention to detail that leaves no room for error or deviation. My four-year-old son Asher's bedtime ritual rivals any rock star's crazy, backstage demands (and encores).
The current, abridged list: a sound machine set to white noise, two puppy blankets (one for his feet and one for him to cuddle), three Angry Bird toys lined up against the wall, a straw cup of water, three bedtime stories, a piggy back ride into the bedroom, night light, a cow pillow pet under his head, a memory foam pillow just for his Star Wars mini-figures and five minutes of cuddle time once stories are done.
And during that cuddle time, I'm grinding my teeth because I have a million things to do and he's just going to get up in the middle of the night and jump into bed with me and kick me in the kidneys until I give up and go to sleep in his tiny bed.
If the buzz being generated from the blogosphere and on facebook is any indication, I'm so not alone. This book is being marketed as "a bedtime book for parents who live in the real world" and it clearly has touched a collective nerve – albeit a frayed one. "Go the F**k to Sleep" isn't even coming out until October 2011, and it's already a top 300 book on Amazon.com based on pre-orders.
The title alone certainly gives a much-needed laugh – and what parent hasn't read "Goodnight Moon" for the thousandth time and thought, "Hello Nightcap?" (And for those parents seeking an alternative to "Goodnight Moon," check out the forthcoming parody board book, "Goodnight Keith Moon.")
It gives me hope that maybe we can expect more bedtime stories or sequels in the works with similarly inappropriate titles like "It's Not Just a Bad Dream" or "Mommy's Got a New Baby to Love."
In fact, there is already a book series by Lisa Brown called Baby Be of Use, with individual titles like "Baby Do My Banking" and "Baby Fix My Car." And a P.S. to parents who grew up watching Rocky & Bullwinkle: The original Fractured Fairy Tales are out on DVD.
Hey – if we're not getting any sleep, we might as well settle for a tired laugh.
What do you think of books like "Go the F**k to Sleep" and "Goodnight Keith Moon" – inappropriate or infinitely hilarous? Tell us in the comments!
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