Any modern mother with access to the internet will no doubt have seen the not-really-for-children, children’s book, Go the F**k to Sleep. Having blazed its way to fame as a PDF landing in every parent’s inbox, it became available in print format last week.
For many parents, it may be virtually impossible not to laugh in self-recognition at the exasperated and exhausted parents wrangling their feisty children to bed. Who hasn’t lived through a bedtime like that? How could you not enjoy the subversive parody of sappy rhyming children’s books? Yet, upon reading it, many mothers might also feel a pang of dissatifaction. It would be easy to blame all those f-words for our flinching, or, to put it more politely, the excessive use of profanity in the context of small children. But we might also wince because reading this book is akin to intruding on someone else’s bad parenting moment. When we witness “bad parenting moments” in public, we look away. (Think of yelling mothers, a poorly handled tantrum, undignified public pleading to please, please, please sit down, or stop running.) When we succumb to these moments ourselves, we might wish we could erase them from our memories, or do them over. So it’s no wonder reading them in a book makes us cringe a little, despite the laughs.
Since Supernanny, and Nanny 911 appear to persist on television, it should come as no surprise that there is a market for this book. Yet, we’re going to echo KJ Dell'Antonia at Slate.com and wonder, who is actually buying Go the F**k to Sleep? And what are they going to do with it? As an alternative choice, a book one might actually read to a child, a kinder but still realistic and funny book about bedtime battles, we’re going to follow the New York Times’ lead, and suggest Once Upon a Time, The End, by Geoffrey Kloske.