And just for the record, you can’t even read the word fuck on the cover.
But that’s not important. No, the contents overshadow the cover and clearly Adam Mansbach must have been striking his own children while writing the book—how else could he have constructed such abusive and Satan-fueled verse?
This isn’t abuse. This is frustration.
Whatever, Anna Smackers—I don’t have kids so I don’t understand—that’s what you said isn’t it? I couldn’t possibly get the point of why you were so upset, you said. Well I don’t think you quite got the point. Do you realize this book is filed under humor? That it’s intended for adults?
And it’s not as if the guy in the story is actually screaming those lines at the child, we’re coming back to that point. Did you miss that? You’re claiming it’s a depiction of verbal abuse, but it isn’t verbal at all.
It must be difficult to be you, Anna, to have such perfect children that you never have to discipline or raise your voice to them. No doubt without the burden of disciplining your kids in any way, must free up a lot of time for you. That must explain how you can visit me so much.
You’re not really allowed to discipline your kids anymore are you? You raise your voice and get accused to verbally abusing them, you spank them and Child Services is knocking on your door because you’re physically abusing them. I think a spanking every once in a while might do some good. How many times growing up did one my parents threaten me with a spanking? And do you know why? Because I was being a little shit, that’s why.
I’m not condoning child abuse—physical, verbal or psychological. Don’t read this wrong and claim I’m saying you should punch a kid in the face when they get out of line. I don’t think so at all.
But getting spanked when I was out of control and past the point of hearing my parent’s verbal admonishments? Got my attention. You don’t want to get spanked when you’re a little kid, you certainly don’t want to get spanked in public—and let’s face it, when you got threatened with a spanking nine times out of ten you were fucking around in the middle of a department store at the mall. You don’t want to get spanked again though; you remember it hurt and was embarrassing, its not something you want to happen repeat.
Of course there are those parents who skip entirely over the verbal portion of attempting to keep their kid in line and begin with the spanking, which is just furious, repeated poorly aimed bottom swatting. They were excessive, took it too far and ruined it for everyone.
Everyone seems to overlook the psychological aspect of parenting; verbal and physical are the real attention grabbers. From what I’ve seen parenting is like being at war—war with really tiny enemies who are always hungry but never want to eat what you offer them.
How many times have you seen a kid throwing a tantrum or not following their parents, and that parent is at their wit’s end? All that parent wants to do is leave the grocery store. Its late, they have to start dinner and that friggin kid has been picking up everything; can I have this, can I have that, why not, of course I’ll eat it, why can’t I have it?
What usually happens? Well first the parent lies to them and claims they’ll buy it for them next time. Then what?
“Fine, you don’t want to leave? Well I’m leaving, see you later.”
And they walk away.
I enjoy watching this because at first the kid doesn’t believe them. They call that parent’s bluff. But then the parent walks away, heads for the door or around the corner.
And then that kid freaks the fuck out.
There’s usually a panic-stricken scream before that kid tears-ass to catch up, tears running down their adorable pudgy little kid faces.
This is acceptable though. Well, at least for now. Complete psychological warfare on toddlers. You just threatened them with abandonment.
Where’s the outcry about that? Instead you’re up in arms because a parent read to their child at bedtime, but was frustrated when three hours later the kid was still up engaging in their own form of warfare.
But it’s OK to threaten your child with leaving them to fend for themselves in the middle of the grocery store because they stopped to check out the Bubble Yum selection.
Go the Fuck to Sleep isn’t about the verbal abuse of children but, rather, the internal monologue that everyone has, not just parents. Yes, specifically this is the frustration of parents with their children, but more then that it reminds us that steady complaining of children with parents, employee with boss and vice versa, coworkers and friends with one another. You’re thinking it all the time.
Our conversational filters stop us—some of us, at least—from saying most of these things. Telling your boss to fuck off, calling your coworker an idiot, spitting in a customer’s food; this book represents the things we don’t say, the things we don’t do.
Mansbach, said it himself, “A lot of these frustrations are not permissible to talk about. We’re not completely honest because we don’t want to be bad parents.”
It’s like admitting you don’t get a joke. Doesn’t happen, you just laugh along with everyone else. So no one admits that their kids are really in charge when it comes to bedtime, instead they keep swapping stories with their other child-bearing friends about how perfect their little angels are.
You can’t admit you don’t know how to put your kids to bed, you can’t admit you just spent three hours reading them half a dozen stories because they refused to lay still, or close their eyes or stay in bed. You can’t admit that they’re in control.
Maureen O’Connor’s all-too short bit for the Gawker is great, and the comments are even better. She addresses David Arrendondo’s suggestion that to properly understand how offensive Go the Fuck to Sleep is one should should instead consider if it was written about Jews, blacks, Muslims or Latinos.
Personally I think one should be more insulted that out of the four Arrendondo mentions, blacks doesn’t get capitalized, that seems racist. Just saying.
O’Connor is absolutely right in her assertion that, “Swapping ‘Jew’ into random sentences about children doesn’t mean the aforementioned sentence is offensive. It means that one does not speak to a Jewish adult the way one speaks to a child.”
Can you think about how disturbing it would be if Mansbach had written a book about how to read a Jew to sleep at night? I prefer the product as we have it now, even if it does incite (one person) riots in my store.