Short of being a children’s book author, I feel I am an authority (as I am sure many parents other could say the same) in children’s books. I could say with confidence that I have now read significantly more children’s titles in the past five years than I have read adult titles in the nearly four decades I have been alive (it is probably a 8:1 ratio). I have cut my fingers on the best of books (The Lorax, Ladybug Girl, etc) and the worst of books (Clifford Goes to Washington, Star Wars: What is a Wookie? etc) and have grown to deeply appreciate how a solid piece of children’s literature can illuminate the struggles and respective bewilderment of childhood. These books imprint meaning, humor, and perspective onto the chaos and confusion, while entertaining and enchanting (this is a far cry for the near-sadistic morality tales that passed for children’s literature a century ago). And while the parenting section of bookstores are sagging under the weight of a million or so titles that try, as they might, to illuminate the existential struggle of parents, most miss the mark. But there may be hope.
The interweb has been all a flutter (and a twitter) over one such upcoming book that holds the promises to address the parental frustration of having a sleep challenged child, and it is quite appropriately titled, Go the F**k to Sleep. Now in fervent pre-order mode on Amazon, this blunt title, by author Adam Mansbach, is a sort of bedtime book for parents, in the style of so many other “good night” books that hold the promise of delivering sleepless children to a land of serene napping animals and muted rainbows. However, although this book is written in verse and approximates the cadences of Goodnight Moon and the like, it is decidedly honest, profane and droll, in a way no other children’s title would dare to be. To be sure, this is not really a children’s book, but more of an adult pacifier in the fashion and manner of children’s lit. As an example, here is a passage from the upcoming book:
“The cubs and the lions are snoring,
Wrapped in a big snuggly heap.
How is it you can do all this other great s**t
But you can’t lie the f**k down and sleep?”
This is certainly not the first book of its kind to tackle the exhaustion and cumulative fatigue of parenting with a keen sense of humor. Baby Mix Me a Drink, by Lisa Brown, attempted to craft a baby shape and color book that also did double-duty as a primer on mixing basic cocktails. But it is safe to say that this eagerly awaited title by Mansbach is the first to attack the subject of sleep-deprived parents in quite this manner.
What other aspects of parenting do you feel can, and should, be addressed in this way? Do you find that this sort of humor helps you through even the most trying or infuriating aspects of parenting?