I’m the Telephone in “Goodnight Moon”—Why Didn’t I Get Wished Goodnight?

You say goodnight to “nobody”? Nobody!? That doesn’t even rhyme!

Room from Goodnight Moon with orange bedframe and carpet and green walls and bedspread. There's an anthropomorphized bunny in blue striped pajamas in the bed. The old-fashioned black telephone on the yellow side table is emphasized with a starburst pattern.
If you enjoy reading Electric Literature, join our mailing list! We’ll send you the best of EL each week, and you’ll be the first to know about upcoming submissions periods and virtual events.

Good morning, little bunny. I hope you had a good night’s sleep. Oh, me? Funny you should ask. I did not sleep that well because I was up all night pondering a question: Why is it that every night you spend an hour and ten minutes wishing goodnight to a frankly not-that-crowded room, but can never bother to wish me goodnight?

As a bunny, your eyes are located on the sides of your head, which means you literally stare at me on your bedside table throughout your entire bedtime routine.

I’ve been trying to comprehend this hurtful slight. I know I’m not invisible; I am the first object mentioned in the so-called “great” green room. Plus, as a bunny, your eyes are located on the sides of your head, which means you literally stare at me on your bedside table throughout your entire bedtime routine. And don’t even try to pretend you’ve never noticed me—with those large ears, I know you hear me ring.

Am I that insignificant to you? 

Imagine what it’s like to be me—staring at the tiger skin rug every night at bedtime and listening to you say your goodnights. Expecting my name to come up at any time and then it never does. You say goodnight to “nobody”? Nobody!? That doesn’t even rhyme with mush or brush! Am I supposed to be the nobody here? 

The final straw was last night when I even heard you tell the socks goodnight! Have socks ever helped you schedule a playdate with your friend Cinnabunny from Hare Scouts? Have socks ever been a lifeline in an emergency? (Speaking of emergencies, is anyone going to put out that log fire?)

And look, I get it—we all get sleepy when nighttime comes. I’m not a heartless monster. I just can’t stop thinking about how you always get into bed at 7:00 pm (according to the two clocks in your weird bedroom), begin wishing the room goodnight at 7:16 pm, and you continue until 8:00 pm, with one last goodnight at 8:10 pm. In 70 minutes, a typical speaker can say 9,100 words. That’s a lot of missed opportunities to acknowledge me.

You know, out of all the objects in the room, I am the one that is specifically designed for talking! Me! The telephone! When you talk through me but never to me, it makes me feel used.

When you talk through me but never to me, it makes me feel used.

Here’s another thing: As a telephone, I hear tons of words all the time: Carrot. Whiskers. The annual bunny hop. I’ve even heard the old lady who was whispering hush say a lot of other words, like, “Little bunny is finally asleep—took him long enough! Want to come over and watch a movie?” So you can see why it pains me to hear the same goodnight message repeated 20 times. Maybe try varying your word choice? Here are some other options I’ve overheard in my many years of facilitating calls:

  • “Sleep well”
  • “Sweet dreams”
  • “Nighty night”
  • “Hope you don’t have any nightmares about jarringly bright green rooms”

Here’s another idea:

  • “Goodnight telephone”

I hope you can take some time to consider who you will be wishing goodnight to in the future. The slippers, tiger-skin rug, and I will be busy commiserating tonight from 7:00–8:10 pm. Don’t bother trying to reach us.

And one last thing: Maybe put the mush away before you go to bed? I think it’s not supposed to be out overnight.

More Like This

Classic Literature for Babies

We believe literature should be inclusive, so we've made the Western canon accessible to readers under one year old

Dec 31 - McKayla Coyle

Your Favorite Children’s Book Heroes: Where Are They Now?

Adults have failed us, so here are the children we’d like to imagine growing up to do a better job

Oct 5 - Erin Bartnett
Thank You!