Thursday, February 12, 2015

the heart

Thought behind the thought:
As adults there are only a few blessed ones that hit the pillow and fall asleep. The rest are twiddling their fingers and staring at the ceiling fan, as it breaks the stillness of the night with its droning sounds. The head is full of thoughts that seem to be performing gymnastic stunts. Out of all these thoughts the most nagging ones are the little wants and aspirations that are ever so demanding that they just don’t allow you to catch your forty winks. The mental juggling continues till you eventually fall asleep of exhaustion from thinking too much.

About the art:
I am taken back to the time when my kids were very little and I used to try and get them to sleep. The faster I wanted them to fall asleep they longer they would take. After endless story telling sessions I would fall asleep out of exhaustion and they would sleep only after that. Dr. Seuss Sleep Book was my hope it may not have done much for the kids but even today when I pick the book to read a yawn is only seconds away. The kids used to love the book. The incredible writing and rhyming was really a big hit with them. The quintessential illustrations of all Dr. Seuss books have left an indelible mark on all his readers. Dr. Seuss wrote this book way back in 1962 when the life of an urban parent was still easy. Technological advancements had not yet made the parent available 24X7. Life was slow paced and parenting was a different ball game altogether.

Cut to 2011, parenting is now nothing short of a juggling game. Parents are on a tight schedule and the clock and the phone seemed to have made them slaves. Unclear future, lack of job security and skyrocketing bills have made parents edgy and cranky. Nuclear families, divorced parents, single parents and urban life style means there is little or no help available in raising kids. Obviously after a long hard day when children refuse to sleep the parents are completely exasperated. When Adam Mansbach's daughter Vivien was two, she would take up to two hours to fall asleep. Exhausted and exasperated, one night Mansbach posted a note on Facebook, "Look out for my forthcoming children’s book, Go the — to Sleep".

Macy Halford, writing for The New Yorker, said "the book is super funny, and the art, by Ricardo Cort├ęs, is perversely sweet, so sweet and genuine that it made me cringe

What followed was a satirical book that simply went viral. Every parent connected to the frustration that Mansbach expresses in the book. In India we are extremely cautious about the language that we use around children and I am sure so is the case world over. Yet the helplessness, frustration, anger and guilt of not being a great parent are universal feeling as well. This is a sleep book for parents to get a good laugh at themselves. Adam Mansbach came up with a child friendly version as well called Seriously, Just Go To Sleep. He removed the expletives and changed the content to make it more children friendly for example; the stanza about the child's thirst was changed from

"I know you're not thirsty, that's bullshit. 

Stop lying. Lie the fuck down, my darling, and sleep" to 

"I know you're not thirsty. 

You just had a drink. 

Stop goofing around now, and sleep

The wants in our life are like these little kids. They have to be handled with compassion and patience. Just like parenting you do get better with time handling these nagging wants.

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