Go the f**k to sleep? Babies fight back...

A new book, Go the F— to Sleep, eloquently describes the feelings of parents who suddenly find themselves sharing a home with a young child. Yet there is another side to this story: that of the child itself. This column has come across a tranche of letters, written by children of all ages, addressed to an organisation called Baby Amnesty.

The human rights abuses that are described therein are extraordinary and deeply troubling. Indeed, they make the complaints of Go the F— to Sleep seem pretty trivial.

Some extracts:

Dear Baby Amnesty,

Is there something that can be done about parents who wilfully refuse to read a story from beginning to end? There’s always a point, about 15 minutes in, when I can see my father starting to look surreptitious, as if he’s about to do something shifty. First he glances over to see if my eyes are closed; then he makes his voice go all bored and sleepy – and then, wham, he goes for it. As cool as you please, he jumps ahead about 10 pages in the picture book as if I’m not going to notice. About 30 seconds later, he’s saying ”the end”, as if he’d read the lot. Well, hellooo, it’s just not good enough. He seems surprised when I make my displeasure clear. Doesn’t he realise I sometimes just close my eyes for a second to reduce eye strain?


Bianca Smythe-Jones, age 4½.

Dear Baby Amnesty,

”Systematic torture” might seem a strong term but it’s the only way to describe the regime of terror under which I currently reside. Bedtime starts off as a pleasant enough affair – my parents read me books and fetch glasses of water on request. About 10pm, however, they insist on turning out the lights. At this point, my mother leans close to my ear and says ”Sleep tight – don’t let the bedbugs bite.” She then walks out! I am left with the horrific image of being trapped in the dark in a bed alive with blood-sucking vermin! Why doesn’t she go the whole hog and say, ”Hope the vampires don’t get you”, or ”Good luck with the neighbourhood prowler.” Hoping you can start some sort of letter-writing campaign. Really, it’s worse than Burma.


Terence J. Nuttall, age 5.

Dear Baby Amnesty,

It may be true that some children, rather irresponsibly, claim that they need to attend the toilet when, in truth, they are just looking for an excuse to get out of bed, pad through the living room and check out that night’s guests on David Letterman. My question: why should the honest suffer because of the actions of the few? I’m the one who has to endure the ignominy of being dubbed ”a bed-wetter” and yet all three ”incidents” have been the direct result of parents who say, ”You’ve already been three times” or ”Let’s not make a fuss over bedtime” and ”I can’t believe you need to go again.” I just want to say: when I’m 30 and in therapy at $110 an hour, I’m not paying the bills.



Mia Petrini, age 6.

Dear Baby Amnesty,

In Guantanamo Bay, music was used to break down the will of the inmates and a similar operation is currently under way in Vimiera Road, Marsfield, in the flat occupied by Terry and Tina O’Brien. I am also resident in the home, in my role as their four-year-old son. Considering she is a first-time mother, my assessment is that Tina is making quite a good fist of things. The same, however, cannot be said of Terry, who seems to be under the misapprehension that he can sing. He has one song: a tuneless rendition of Along the Road to Gundagai, in which most of the words are wrong – how can a shack wind back to a half-deserted track? – and the notes are not so much hit as bludgeoned to death. Worst of all, I can hear him smugly boasting to mummy that I fall asleep almost as soon as he starts up. Can’t he tell: I’ll do anything to make the torture stop?

Yours in pain,

Mark O’Brien, age 4.

Dear Baby Amnesty,

They say sleep deprivation is one of the worst things you can do to a person but how about forcing someone to have TOO MUCH SLEEP. Parents seem to think it’s a big deal when you won’t go to sleep, yet imagine how BORING it is in this cot. They’ve hung this pathetic mobile with monkeys and giraffes above the cot as if that’ll do the trick. Frankly, my interest paled after the first night. What’s worse is the slightly muffled sound of people having a good time in the next room. All I can hear is laughter and people saying, ”Would you like another slice of pie?” Well, it’s not that way cot-side. Cot-side is bor-ing. And I’m wet. Actually the wet nappy is a point of interest. Now if someone, just occasionally, could trouble themselves to change it.

Yours (in desperation),

Lily, age 9 months.

Send your donations now to Baby Amnesty and help bring this horror to an end.

This column originally appeared in the SMH
If your baby could write back to you what do you think he/she would say? What do you think you would have loved to tell your parents before you were old enough to speak?


Richard Glover is the author of 12 books, most recently Why Men are Necessary and More News from Nowhere, a collection of his comic pieces for radio’s Thank God It’s Friday. He is also author of The Mud House, the story of building a house in the middle of nowhere with no power tools.

His book Desperate Husbandshas been a best-seller in Australia and is published in translation in Italy and Poland and he’s also written two short novels for children – The Dirt Experiment and The Joke Trap.

Richard is also the author of The Dag’s Dictionary, published by ABC Books and based on the Drive Show competition.

His other writing includes In Bed with Jocasta, The P-Plate Parent (co-written with Angela Webber), and Lonestar, a stage show about country music.

Click on any of the links to buy Richard’s books. You wont be disappointed.