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.
Anna is the mother of two little girls around eight and ten years old.
Anna is a fervent critic of the book Go the Fuck to Sleep, so much so that I’ve had to listen to her complaints about it on multiple occasions. She has nothing else to do but complain apparently.
She isn’t alone in her condemnation of the book and of the message she finds in its picture book illustrations juxtaposed with alternating sweet lyrical rhymes and frustrated and profanity laced cries to go to sleep.
Karen Spear Zacharias wrote in a CNN.com article, “Still, there’s no denying the reason “Go the F*** to Sleep” should be kept out of reach of children is because of its violent language and because of the way it demeans children.”
You’re absolutely right, it should be kept out of reach of children—because it isn’t a fucking children’s book. What, because it includes short, rhyming lines and illustrations it should be considered a kid’s book? I’m pretty sure the Kama Sutra has illustrations as well, but I don’t hear any parental outrage over that. What about The Giant Book of Dirty Limericks? That has short, rhyming lines, lyrical almost and descriptive; that sounds pretty similar to the set up of a kid’s book. Yet, I don’t have customers coming and complaining about our sex books or dirty limericks.
Let’s ballpark it here, I’m going to call it about four- to six-hundred sex books in the store, and at least two dozen of those are Letters to Penthouse. Now some are innocent enough in terms of sex books, they’ll talk about making love and romance, spicing up your marriage or relationship, trapping women into having sex with you, that kind of thing.
The rest (by rest I mean the majority) will graphically describe and depict a number of sexual techniques in rousing titles such as Tickle His Pickle; the Hands On Guide to Penis Pleasing, and Ride Em Cowgirl; Sex Position Secrets for Better Bucking.
But I’m not getting lectures about these.
I’m not getting lectures from stay at home moms about selling Last Tango in Paris, and not simply selling it, but it’s marked down and for a month was on a display visible immediately upon entering the DVD department.
You know what’s sitting on the same display? Lolita. That was actually on a display for a while with a sign over the table that read, “Mother’s Day Gifts for Every Interest.” Not one complaint about that.
These last two examples, of those movies’ placement on displays, I bring up because that’s what this mom was complaining about, or the particular issue she was wasting so much of my time with. The book was offensive, she absolutely made that clear. She thought it disgusting and vile, but it was our placement of the book on the Customer Service desk.
This customer complained that we were, “cramming this book down [her] children’s throats” by displaying them at the Customer Service desk. She felt “assaulted” by our flaunting of this title. Apparently our having a stack of these books on the desk is tantamount to us handing one to every child as they walk through the door, and then slapping their parents in the face with a second copy.
That’s what we’re doing, isn’t it?
What we’re doing couldn’t possibly be putting a stack of bestselling books that we sell a dozen copies a day of within easy reach? This isn’t the evil bookstore promoting the degradation of our society for the sake of money. I know you want to think it is. I know you want to vilify the company. But that’s not what’s going on.
This is laziness. This is convenience. I don’t feel like walking the two hundred feet round-trip that it would be to the humor section three times an hour. I’m not trying to promote the seed of Satan here, I’m just trying to save time.
This book brings evil a whole new level though, apparently, in that it has the power to suck in children who get to close to it. Anna didn’t want this book on counter, facing the kid’s department! just feet from summer reading tables! at perfect eye level with her children!
What monsters we are! Evil, innocence stealing, bookselling monsters!
Just by looking at it, children have been known to disappear. Beware! This book is like the basilisk set loose from the Chamber of Secrets, except instead of petrifying mudbloods it steals children’s souls.
I have no other explanation than evil powers, since Anna was very upset with the fact that the book faced the summer reading books and kid’s department. She asked that we display it instead facing the “other filthy books promoting child abuse.”
Unfortunately we haven’t received all the product for that display, so it hasn’t been set up yet. I promise though Anna, as soon as it is I’ll move this book over.