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Go the F*** to Sleep

Samuel L. Jackson narrates the best bedtime story, ever. Written for adults (obviously), it’s called Go the F*** to Sleep. I recite this story in my mind in his voice when my kids either don’t want to go to sleep or wake up obscenely early. Last night was the latter. Hazel woke us all up at 3 a.m. by banging on the door shrieking, “I want! I want! I want!”

Outside the windows, all was pitch black. Perhaps the sounds of crickets or birds were in the air, but human-wise, there was nothing. Nothing but the sounds of my toddler, her shrieks loud enough to probably wake up the neighbors.

What she wanted, what she always wants when she first wakes up, is a cup of milk. Her annoying insistence about getting this first cup of milk is like mine, should I be denied my morning cup of coffee.

“Hazel. Go back to bed. It’s 3 a.m.”

Instead, Maggie now awake jumps out of bed like she was propelled by a cartoon spring.

In Samuel L. Jackson’s voice, I think, “Go the f*** to sleep.”

In Andy’s actual voice, I hear, “Vane, I have to work today. Please take them.” Andy’s job requires his brain to be fully charged.

I take them to the playroom which has a daybed in addition to their toys. I try to lie down with them but the wake up fairy must have sprinkled pixie dust all over them when I wasn’t looking because they weren’t having it. Keeping them down was like mud wrestling two slippery leprechauns, which only got them more riled up.

Fine! Go play.

Hazel brings me a book. I look at her, bags under my eyes, my head foggy from the imminent headache and think in his voice, “I’ll read you one very last book if you swear you’ll go the f*** to sleep.”

Maggie, on the other hand, decided to do what she loves to do with her toys. I could imagine her growing up to be engineer of the destructive sort. Perhaps demolition. Perhaps product testing for quality control. She likes to take her toys from as high as possible and throw them down. Perhaps she loves the great loud noises she can make, or perhaps she wants to see if she can damage the toys. She took Noah’s Ark, full of plastic animals, and slammed it down. The noise was, for her, probably loud and obnoxious enough to be satisfying. For Andy, it was intolerable.

“You’re going back to sleep!” Andy said, grabbing Maggie and going back to the bedroom. Hazel and I followed.

With Andy holding Maggie and Hazel curled up on me on the armchair, we rocked. I read through Go the F*** to Sleep in its entirety in my mind, flipping through pages that resemble the illustrations in a Nancy Tillman bedtime picture book. “It’s been thirty-eight minutes already! Jesus Christ, what the f***? Go to sleep,” I think in his voice.

So we rock and rock. I visualize sleeping wildlife and my children floating away into the stars, exploring the depths of the seas, curling up next to a harmless sleeping tiger, probably larger than the daybed, all painted in vibrant hues.

Hazel tries to escape from my arms and I hear Maggie trying to rustle her way free. In Jackson’s voice, I wail in my mind. “My life is a failure. I’m a terrible parent. Stop f****** with me, please, and sleep. The giant Pagolins of Madagascar are snoozing as I lie here and openly weep. Sure, fine, whatever, I’ll bring you some milk. Who the f*** cares? You’re not going to sleep.”

We must have dozed. I woke up, startled by the sensation of imaginary ants crawling up my arm and a cramp in my shoulder. I adjusted Hazel, the weight of her body cutting off circulation on my arm. She opened her eyes, smiled at me, and said, “Mommy.”

I give up. We’re awake. All of us are awake, except Andy. I bring coffee for myself, milk for Hazel, and heavy whipping cream for Maggie. I sit back and type, sipping my black steaming coffee and watching the organized playroom dissolve into an array of toys and clutter. I listen to the songs of nearly any toy that plays music or sing, going off at the same time. It’s a cacophony of conflicting sounds.

The day has begun. I need more coffee.


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