Unless you've been on some sort of media fast for the past month or so, chances are you've heard the buzz surrounding Adam Mansbach's expletive-ridden faux-bedtime story, Go The F**k To Sleep. This genre-busting parody was originally intended for an October 2011 release date. But it became an Internet sensation this past spring as a PDF version was leaked to the Facebook pages and Twitter accounts of exhausted parents across the nation.
Within the month, GTFTS had reached #1 on Amazon in pre-sales, prompting the publishing company to move the book's release date up to last week. And it's huge. An audio version featuring the voice talents of the master-of-the-f-bomb Samuel L. Jackson (Pulp Fiction and Snakes on a Plane, anyone?) has just been released. And the 31-page book has been supposedly optioned for (an R-rated and very short?) film by Fox 2000 .
The book, which is sure to be the novelty baby shower gift of the summer, has certainly raised interesting concerns about Internet piracy. It has also raised hackles over the appropriateness of profanity in a book whose cover could be easily be mistaken for Good Night Moon by your average 3-year-old. Some of the most interesting on-line discussions I've encountered have been about what the popularity of such a jaded book says about contemporary parenting culture.
But feel as you may about the book, Mansbach has clearly hit a nerve as well as the jackpot. Sleep (or lack thereof), both theirs, and ours, is a major struggle for parents.
From the moment he came home from the hospital, my oldest son had absolutely no interest in shuteye. Call it "healthy lungs," call it colic (my husband was dying for a "diagnosis"), or call it a nightmare, he wouldn't sleep for more than 45 minutes at a stretch, ever. Many of my slightly-better-rested mom-friends swore by the tactics of Chicago pediatrician and self-proclaimed sleep superhero, Dr. Marc Weissbluth. His book, Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child, they claimed, was sure to teach me everything I needed to know about how to get my new baby to sleep peacefully--both during naps and through the night.
I read the book, not once, not twice, but three times. My husband read it a handful of times as well. I even read it to the baby hoping it might get him to drift off, even for a little. The good doctor's advice was pretty simple. We just needed to let our infant son "cry it out"--essentially let him scream bloody murder until he was so exhausted he'd have no other choice than to fall asleep.
Both my husband and I were staunchly committed going into that first night of "sleep training." Weissbluth promised that if we could just bear two to three nights of fuss, our little guy would be sleeping like, well, a baby, by day four. It is possible the technique works---we gave in long before we could find out. After two hours of straight shrieking, our son ended up in our bed that night. And every successive night for the next two years.
Still scarred from our earlier experience, we didn't even consider any formal "training" for son #2 until his first birthday. This time we opted for the Ferbermethod -- a kinder, gentler version of Weissbluth. Now, the rules said, instead of letting him fuss on his own until he gave in to sleep, we could at least visit our baby in his agony.
It went something like this: put him in his crib and listen to him cry for 10 minutes. Then, go into his room, stroke his back for a minute or two and tell him reassuring words ("don't worry, mama's here") and leave. Then repeat.
It was a continuous cycle of cry, soothing words, and cry again that went on for hours, despite the recommended increasing intervals of "cry time." Soon Ferber became yet another "F" word in our house---and son #2 ended up in our bed (at least son # 1 was out of it by now).
Our third child, a daughter, slept well from day one. But only in her car seat, never the crib. At her eight-week check-up I was relieved that our sympathetic pediatrician gave this alterna-bed his blessing. I'll be honest, even if he had told me that letting her sleep for so many hours in the curled up position that infant car seats induce would permanently stunt her growth, I'm not confident I would have done anything different. Finally sleeping through the night was just too great a gift to toy with it.
Our infant sleep issues morphed into the toddler "Jack-in-the-Box" sleep issue immortalized in Mansbach's book. But by the time each of them hit age three, things got better. And stayed better for quite some time.
But I have some potentially bad news for parents (are you listening, Mr. Mansbach?) who think that once they've won their pre-school sleep battles that they've actually won the war.
My oldest is now 14, goes out with friends and stays up way later than I do.
I am thinking about writing my own book.
I plan to call it, "It's Past G$d D#%n Ten, You Better Get Your A$% Home Soon, I Want To Go The F**k To Sleep."
Any ideas on who should do the audio book?comments powered by Disqus
"I'm envious, mom," said my twelve-year-old daughter as she hopped in the car after theater camp last week. "All the other kids in my group seem to really like, and to be really good at, singing, dancing and acting. But I think all those things are just okay."
"People are looking to book space here all the time," says Remy Fernández-O'Brien, communications and facilities coordinator for the Lussier Community Education Center, a private, nonprofit community center on Madison's west side. "They want to throw their child's first birthday party here or hold a Girl Scout meeting. We're really busy year-round, but it's especially lively here in the summer."
Last week, in response to the county-wide Sleep Safe, Sleep Well public health campaign that encourages parents to "share the room, not the bed" with their sleeping infants, Isthmus contributor Ruth Conniff penned a lovely opinion piece in defense of bed sharing entitled "Confessions of a Co-Sleeper."
As much as I'd like to believe there is latent genius in my daughter's early finger paintings, I'm pretty sure her works are not distinguishable from those created by the pointer fingers and pinkies of thousands of other children from across the world.
Seeing Romeo and Juliet this past weekend was a definite reminder that I need to prepare for something that might resemble a (Near) West Side Story around our place pretty soon.
All during childhood, we calmly tell our kids they don't need to be afraid of the dark, thunder or the monster under the bed. But it's pretty hard to keep your parental cool when your kid is about to embark on the one thing that terrifies you. I knew the problem wasn't really with him. It was with me.
Last January, when temperatures dipped below minus 30 and most people between the ages of 16 and 24 did anything to stay inside, a small yet sturdy group of at-risk teenage boys and young men stacked wood and managed controlled burns at Festge County Park near Cross Plains. Five months later, following a temperature swing of more than 100 degrees, Isthmus found some of those same guys removing invasive honeysuckle and buckthorn at Lake View Hill County Park on Madison's north side.
The first week of summer break at our place usually comes and goes without incident. At times, one could argue, it even verges on pleasant. I have no school lunches to pack and the kids have no 7 a.m. buses to catch.
Have you tried getting anywhere on either Verona Road or East Johnson lately? I'm pretty sure a six-month old could crawl to Fitchburg, or across the isthmus, in less time that it takes me to drive there these days.
As soon as the door closed behind him, I poured myself a cup of the coffee he had made and took a moment to let the enormity of what just happened sink in. My son was ready that morning despite my inability to properly set an alarm clock. My kid was ready that morning without nudging, cajoling, or reminding. He was ready, even when I wasn't.
For the past 17 years or so (i.e., since I've had kids), I haven't made books the priority in my life I know they should be. It's not that I don't try. Just this past weekend I had the best of intentions of picking up, and even finishing, I am Malala, this year's UW-Madison's Go Big Read pick. But the copy still sits untouched on my nightstand.
The longest day of the year is upon us. For those of you keeping track, the sun will rise at 5:18 a.m. and set at 8:41 p.m. on Saturday, June 21. All that daylight, courtesy of the annual summer solstice, will provide the perfect backdrop for Make Music Madison, a daylong event featuring hours and hours of free performances in nearly every corner of the city.
Last week, for the first time, I made my way up to one of the open gallery nights during Madison West's Fine Arts Week, the school's annual showcase for all things creative. The scope of the event is huge, with nearly 1,600 students participating, and the quality of the presented works is phenomenal. It's almost as if the school had been lifted off its perch on Regent Street and traveled back in time to Belle Époque Paris.
If you have aspiring authors in your house, this summer offers a fabulous opportunity for them refine their writing skills. For its second summer, the Greater Madison Writing Project, in partnership with Olbrich Botanical Gardens, is sponsoring two week-long camps in August for young writers entering grades 3-8.
There are lots of benefits to living in a college town. First and foremost, there is always something going on -- a lecture, a film series. Maybe even a protest, if you're lucky. And since becoming a Madisonian, I, for the first time in my life, find myself interested in college football.
My passion for the talent show clearly runs deep, but I'm more than just a fangirl. This year marked my second as one of the "Ziegfelds" of the Follies, Hamilton's annual showcase for singers, musicians, dancers and other varied forms of entertainment. Trust me, when you are part of the spectacle's "producing/directing" team you get a new-found appreciation for how hard the kids worked to get up on stage.
My daughter, who turned twelve just this past week, is not legally "of age" when it comes to social media. But I guess, in many respects, especially in those that involve screens, I am a permissive pushover. I've allowed her join some networks.
What adults love about camping -- sleeping under the stars, getting away from it all, the sounds of nature -- can be scary for children. It's dark in a tent. Nothing is familiar. Of course, camping with kids is more work for adults, too. Stay cool, live in the moment. Forget about that lost fork. Making s'mores, spotting wildlife, that's what kids will remember.
I have just returned from a whirlwind, five-day, four-city college tour with my son. You know those "101 Things to Know Before Visiting Disney World" guidebooks that experienced theme park travelers have written to help the uninitiated? I think I am now officially seasoned enough in information sessions and campus tours to give some serious thought to penning a similar "insiders guide" for the junior-year parent.
This past week, against both my will and better judgement, I accompanied 50 or so middle school kids to the Future Problem Solvers Wisconsin State Bowl, a popular academic and skit-writing competition.