Posts Tagged ‘terrible twos’

Yelling At A Kid Doesn’t Make You A Hero

Wednesday, July 22nd, 2015

This is not the post I was supposed to be writing today. Right now I am supposed to be taking pictures of my 364-day-old baby so I can post a sweet, heartfelt, sob-worthy birthday post tomorrow when he turns 1. But my baby is blissfully taking a much-needed nap while I get to sit on the couch with a Diet Coke and think about how much needs to be done before his party on Saturday.

Except instead of party planning, I am working myself into a rage for the third time this week over that story out of the diner in Maine. I have spent entirely too much time, energy and furious typing on this story already, so what’s another hour?

Sometimes my children are monsters. I'm sorry.

Sometimes my children are monsters. I’m sorry. But screaming at them is not the answer.

If you have no idea what I’m talking about, you can catch up here on Buzzfeed and also read the mother’s account of what happened here. Do NOT read the comments.

Although I am extremely inclined to believe the family over the diner owner, I cannot prove anything one way or another. Even in this age of social media and cell phone videos as far as I know there isn’t any footage to confirm or deny the length of the tantrum. I’ve already word-vomited my feelings about that part of the story all over Facebook, much to the distress of some of my friends’ friends who insist I can’t possibly know what I’m talking about because THEY SEE parents being bad parents ALL THE TIME. I actually hardly ever see anyone being a terrible parent and can’t remember any time vividly enough to recount it for you now. Maybe I’m not observant or maybe my threshold for “terrible parenting” is just wicked high after having three kids. But if that is something ALL these internet commenters experience ALL the time, I cannot deny it happens.

So I give up on all my previous statements, assumptions and conclusions. You are right, people of the internet. Maybe these parents were incredibly neglectful, lazy and selfish and their monster of a toddler screamed at the top fo her lungs for 40 minutes, ruining everyone else’s morning. They are horrible and completely in the wrong for not taking their kid out of the restaurant.

But the part I absolutely WILL NOT concede is that the diner owner should be congratulated or treated as some sort of hero, standing up for the rights and eardrums of all the polite, respectable people who all seem to have raised their children without a single mistake ever or who are doing us all a favor by not having children in the first place.

I will cut a paste a few congratulatory comments so you don’t have to read all 1,000+ of them yourself.

“LOL I really like this owner!”

“owner did the right thing. that’s it!”

“I think the owner had every right when the parents r sitting there making everyone pay for their child’s temper tantrum. If u can’t control a Whiney kid….Stay the hell home! When I go out the last thing I want to listen to is a whaling brat!”

“Ugh. I’d have thanked her right then. Take your shrieking spawn outside please.”

“Restaurant owner is right. Dumbass mother is wrong. Case closed.”

“As for the owner, I applaud her. Simply put, her restaurant, her rules. It doesn’t necessarily matter if she has kids of her own or not either. She acted perfectly fine.”

“I give the owner support for her so-called rude response…apparently that’s the only way to get thru to the parents…the child had given a pure example of that truth! 40 minutes of ignoring your child is rude …BE A PARENT!”

Let me just be clear here: yelling at a kid in this situation does not make you a hero.

Do you know what makes you a hero in this situation? Kindness.

Kindness, patience and sympathy, which all seem to be rarer than unicorns these days. I feel extremely lucky that most of my interactions on a daily basis fall into the “polite indifference” section of the grid rather than “angry hostility” or “crazy screaming person” areas. I appreciate anyone who lets me just go about my parenting and life business without instantly writing me and my kids off as brats, jerks, whiners, life-ruiners who don’t really deserve to be out in public at all.

My heroes are the people who help when they don’t have to. The waitress who sees that I am struggling to keep my toddler in his high chair long enough to eat my meal and brings him apple slices to gnaw on is a hero. The cashier at the grocery store who starts to talk to my whining 4-year-old to distract her is a hero. The nurse at my doctor’s appointment who holds my baby for me so I can get changed is a hero. The lady at the beach who shares her snacks with my kids so they don’t have a hunger meltdown after all the snacks I brought have run out is a hero. My definition of hero here is pretty low, but in all those situations I am as grateful as if they had saved me from drowning. In a way, that is exactly what they are doing.

Those people are heroes because not only are they doing me a huge favor and embodying the idea that it takes a village, they are demonstrating in a real, tangible way to my kids what good behavior looks like. Instead of reacting to anger and frustration with anger and frustration, they are living proof being kind and calm is a real solution. “Oh!” thinks my kid, “She is trying to communicate without throwing a fit! Maybe I should also try that!”

That is how you turn irrational, screaming babies into full-sized good people. You model the behavior you want them to emulate, in private, in public and in diners. It can take a while, years even, but there isn’t really another option. I work really, really hard every waking hour of my day to give my kids the life skills, language and emotional maturity to one day be someone’s employee, boss, wife, husband, neighbor or friend. It is a fact of human survival that babies and children are necessary to create full-grown adults, so we need to allow for them to exist, even if sometimes they are awful. Kindness is how we teach them not to be so awful.

If you tell me that because these are not YOUR kids and YOU didn’t choose to bring them into this world you have no responsibility or obligation to help me teach them to be kind, I cannot argue with you. That is totally true. You are not obligated to do any parenting, so please enjoy doing things like sleeping in, going to brunch and yelling at whoever you want. But try to remember that you – YES YOU – were once a child. If your mother or father is available, call them up and ask them to tell you about their absolute WORST parenting moment. Maybe they can remember a time someone was kind to them while they were struggling, and the next time you encounter a horrible child in public you can pay that act of kindness forward.

No, you do not have to go above and beyond for me just because I have kids. No, I am not asking for special treatment. It is just so disheartening to think that so many people hate my family just because we exist in public spaces, we have bad days, and sometimes we make noise. I swear I am doing the best that I can to raise my tiny humans into people you would be happy to sit next to in a diner. If you can show them a little kindness, you can be a hero.

I’ve been staring at this for 15 minutes now, trying to decide if it’s worth hitting publish when I am fairly certain I’ll get yelled at for my post about not yelling at people. If you feel the need to comment or share, please be kind and give me and my commenters the benefit of the doubt when it comes to judgment, entitlement, parenting styles and anything else.

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My Children Are Making You Hate Children

Wednesday, July 3rd, 2013

Caroline is two and a half, Evan is four and a quarter and I am going absolutely bananas. B A N A N A S.

This morning at the aquarium Evan thought it would be fun to get into a pretend-slap-fight with a little girl trying to look at the turtles. I think it maybe started as hand-holding but quickly turned into him acting like a rabid raccoon trying to catch a fish. He flailed his hands around and screeched and basically scared the poor child to death in the 4.6 seconds it took me to lunge across the aisle and grab him bodily.

“NO!” I said. “WE DO NOT HIT.” I said. “APOLOGIZE RIGHT NOW.” I said. “I’m so, so sorry,” I said to the girl’s grandmother, who looked like she might start slapping me. “I’m so, so sorry,” I said to the little girl, who was crying big scared tears. “YOU ARE IN TIME OUT.” I said to Evan, who put his hand on his hip and said “Fine. I want a marshmallow.”

I think I blacked out. I’m allergic to sass and that was just too much. Kids need a warning like at the end of a prescription drug commercial: Children may cause blurred vision, dizziness, fits of rage, a high screechy voice, hearing loss, the inability to speak coherent sentences, hallucinations, unconsciousness and wishing for a quick death.

Right now, my children are the reason so many people hate children. They are incredibly, ear-splittingly loud and my only recourse has been to becoming slightly deaf. I can be standing right next to them while they shout “MOMMY MOMMY MOMMY MY BUG BITE ITCHES SO I ITCHED IT AND NOW I AM BLEEDING MY BLOOD MOMMY LOOK” and I just carry on my conversation slightly louder. Our respective volumes with raise proportionately until everyone within a 2 mile radius is checking themselves for exposed wounds to avoid contamination and I am shouting to my friend that Yes, my vacation was lovely but it would have been slightly more so without my children DO YOU THINK IT’S TOO EARLY FOR A DRINK? We’re awful.

When we are in public restrooms, Evan usually narrates everything going on in our stall while Caroline tries to climb under the partitions to join other bathroom visitors to discuss why they are there. I am the one hissing “We. Do. Not. Need. To. Talk. About. Your. Poop. Or. My. Poop. Or. Any. Poop. CAROLINE NOOOOOOO!” They like to check our the reverb in new bathrooms by shouting “ECHO ECHO ECHO” as loudly as possible. We’re horrible.

At the store, Caroline hates the shopping cart but also walking and also being carried. She is very disappointed levitation or teleportaion are not currently options and will let everyone know about her displeasure. If she sees someone she knows, she will insist on riding in THEIR shopping cart because it is blue or red or green or wet or dry or better for some other reason. When I tell her they are leaving and she needs to ride in any of the 4 available seats in my cart she will cry like I am ripping out her toenails while hitting me in the face (true, actual story that happened Tuesday). We’re the worst.

My children run away. They shout. They throw tantrums. They bump into people in public. They touch strangers. They act like I am kidnapping them. They refuse all my requests. They spill things. They insist on opening food in the grocery store before I pay for it and I give in because even though I think people who do that are on par with people who steal all the change from Children’s Charity jars or intentionally take up two parking spaces at the mall it is better to just give in than endure the disasters that refusal will bring. I AM SOMEONE I HATE.

A few short months ago I was gushing about how adorable and fun my kids were together and as siblings, and now I am one car ride away from dropping them off at the firehouse. It’s all a phase. One day I’ll look back on this age fondly. This too shall pass. I repeat all that to myself constantly, muttering like a crazy person to keep from becoming an actual crazy person. I love my children dearly because they are my children, but oh my God are there awful right now.

I apologize to everyone without children for our very presence in your general vicinity and to everyone with children for all the dirty looks the childless give you just for breathing the same air they are. That’s my bad. This too shall pass.

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Caroline: 30 Months

Thursday, June 27th, 2013

This is me throwing up my hands and admitting my poor second child isn’t going to get monthday updates anymore. I’m not going to make it to 36 months. I’ve barely made it to 30 months. I’m not going to force myself to do these when I’m already posted dozens of photos of her every week and chronicling our lives in detail. But honestly, keeping track of Caroline’s milestones isn’t useful when she’s basically done with them. All levels of toddlerness have been achieved, game over. The only thing that makes her even a LITTLE bit like a baby is wen’re not done potty training. (Honestly, we haven’t started in earnest. I’m so lazy.) Besides the diapers, she’s pretty much identical to her 4 year old brother. And TALL. I still think of her as a peanut but her legs are insanely long.

I left her with a sitter for 9 hours on Tuesday while E and Evan and I went to Boston and she didn’t care. Whatevs, Mom. Just leave me some pizza money and a Princess movie and I’m good. I picked her up at 10 pm and she was talking a mile a minute. The sitter said Caroline seemed tired right before dinner, so Caroline went and got her pillow and blankie and put herself down for a 2.5 hour nap. Because she’s a real human person. A tiny, curly-haired, amazing little person.

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Possibly my favorite photo of her ever.

Two and a half is basically the very best and the very worst. SO WORST. Taking her on vacation was the most exhausting thing I’ve ever done, including giving birth. She can be incredibly unreasonable one minute and perfectly reasonable the next, so it makes dealing with her more like hostage negotiation than anything else. I’m tempted to videotape our next argument and share it, but anyone who has ever had a 2 year old can tell you exactly what it looks like. Plus I don’t want her to have MORE things to complain to her therapist about some day. Her emotions are just totally unpredictable. At the beach, she rocked over her toe with a huge rocking chair, crushed her nail and bled all over the place. She cried for like, 90 seconds and then was totally fine, even as we bandaged it up. But GOD FORBID you get tired of holding her upside down by her feet after 10 minutes, or she’ll scream at you for an hour straight.

Likes include talking, eating, talking, eating, talking, the iPad, the other iPad, my iPhone, movies, Macklemore, singing, dancing, cats, dogs, talking, running, jumping, pretending she’s a kitty, ponies, drinking water, Princesses, Elmo, pillows, hugs, climbing, dolls, gently sloping sand beaches, seashells, buckets, marshmallows, eating, talking, eating, making up songs, spinning until she’s so dizzy she falls down, ice cream, cheese, Daddy, Evan, and me.

Dislikes include swimming, swimming pools, boats, life jackets, sleeping past 6 am, being told NO, and being teased by her brother.

All pictures are from the lake house portion of our vacation, right around her actual 30th monthday:

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30 Month Milestones (from BabyCenter originally, but they changed their format so these are from Evan’s 2 1/2 year post.)

Mastered Skills (most kids can do)
• Brushes teeth with help – Brushed teeth on her own. I go over them again just to be thorough.
• Washes and dries own hands – Yep.
• Draws a vertical line – Mostly, but would rather continue to draw the sort of creepy counter clockwise circles. I keep expecting Nicolas Cage to show up and tell me it’s part of some secret code.

Emerging Skills (half of kids can do)
• Draws a circle – Yep.
• Balances on one foot – Yep.

Advanced Skills (a few kids can do)
• Puts on a T-shirt – Yep.
• Names one color – Names all the colors and will ask you what your favorite color is and discusses in length which one is best.
• Names one friend – Names all her friends, plus her aunts and uncles (both real and basically-like-family) and all her grandparents.

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Caroline: 23 Months

Monday, November 19th, 2012


This is the last month my baby will be my baby. I’ve been letting myself say she’s “one” for the past couple weeks instead of “almost 2”, even though it feels sort of ridiculous. She’s been shedding her babyhood faster than I can gather it up in my memory for more than a year now. Recently she’s moved farther away from charming, silly and good-natured and more towards willful, stubborn and independent.  She’s mostly capable of doing things on her own but has very strong opinions about WHEN and WHERE she wants to do them. It’s like a tiny window into what it will be like to have a 16 year old. It doesn’t help that she’s been having physical and emotional growing pains that frustrate both of us immensely and leave me wrung out by bedtime.

And then, on Saturday night, right as I was leaving her room after an hour of stories and rocking and singing and cajoling and begging her to please, please, please just lie in your bed and sleep already she said “Rock Mommy, rock”. I held her in my lap and we rocked. I felt her go limp and still then twitchy and dreaming and tried to remember the last time we rocked to sleep. I couldn’t. I know the last time  she couldn’t have asked so clearly. I know the last time her feet didn’t hang off the chair and I couldn’t rest my chin on her head. And then I lifted her full sleeping body weight to put her into bed and all of her babyness dropped away. She is long and heavy and definitely a child, even if I’m not completely ready for her to be one.

Two seems like it’s going to be a challenge. Along with learning to say adorable things like “Oh coconuts!” and “Don’t whorry, Mommy!” she loves to yell “I DO IT!” and “EAT! EAT! EAT! NOW!” and “Jammies on, NO BATH!” For every spontaneous please and thank you there’s a screaming fit over wearing shoes or pants. I keep telling myself it’s just a phase – it’s ALWAYS just a phase – but right now I’m just hoping we both survive it with no permanent damage.

It the face of her epic tantrums, it’s a good thing she’s really, really cute. She loves to narrate what we’re doing, so at Target she sounds like this: “Target! I love you Target! Cart. No that cart. Big cart! I DO IT. I push. Caroline walking. See! C’mon Mommy! Coffee, Mommy? Coffee? Icee? Hi! Hi baby! Hi! No, my cart! Buy it Mommy? I have it. HAVE IT NOW. Yahhhhh Target! Bye bye bye bye Target! Bye!” times one thousand times a day. She picks out her own clothes and if that means she wears a short summer PJ’s over footie PJ’s then that’s OK with me, although it’s cold enough now that I keep getting Looks when we go into a store and she isn’t wearing shoes. She eats more than anyone else in the house but is still a peanut. She’s really into coloring and painting now, although the mess she makes is incredible. But that’s the part she likes the best so clever toddler-friendly alternatives like Color Wonder markers don’t fool her one bit. She wants me to read to her 12 hours a day, although she also likes to “read” her own books. Yesterday she tried to play Twinkle Twinkle Little Star on the piano, although I only know that’s what she was playing because she was also singing at the top of her lungs. I wish she would let me put a barrette in her hair to keep her bangs out of her eyes but there is no way I am cutting a single hair on her head.

Likes include her blankies (she calls them both “Bee”), her pillow, books, blocks, music boxes, CHRISTMAS STUFF, art, making a mess, Sesame Street, music, dancing, gymnastics, putting on clothes, taking off clothes, running, cuddles, iPads, iPhones, Daddy, the dog, the cat, singing, climbing stairs, her brother, doing things herself, bossing me around, Mickey Mouse, apples, eggs, eating and giving kisses.

Dislikes helping me run errands, being left behind, not getting her way, wearing shoes, and bedtime.

Milestones below the adorable photos, as usual.

23 Month Milestones (from BabyCenter, as usual)

Mastered Skills (most kids can do)
Names simple picture in a book – She can name almost anything in a book and insists on doing it every time we read anything.
Uses 50 to 70 words – More like 500 to 700 words and that is only a tiny exaggeration. She knows ALL THE WORDS.

Emerging Skills (half of kids can do)
Opens doors – She can, but she’s mostly too short for the ones in our house. THANK GOD.
Sings simple tunes – Yesterday she tried to play Twinkle Twinkle on the piano while singing. It was a nice effort but she is clearly not a musical prodigy.
Takes more of an interest in playing with other kids – Was she supposed to be uninterested in other kids? She’s a second child, the poor girl has no idea how to entertain herself.

Advanced Skills (a few kids can do)
Talks about self (likes, dislikes) – Mostly dislikes. “NO WANT IT BERRIES! WANT MOMMY’S FOOD.” “Nooooo bathtime! Nooooo NOT filthy!” but she will tell you her favorite color is green and she likes her blankie.
Asks “why?” – No, but she asks “HUH?” and taps her finger on her chin and says “Ummmmmm” while she’s thinking.

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Monday, December 12th, 2011

I am enjoying the CRAP out of having a 2 1/2 year old right now. A lot of the time with kids, they have SO MANY NEEDS that you expend all your energy fulfilling them and don’t have any left over for fun stuff like playing trains or teaching them to fist-bump-then-blow-it-up or reading The Napping House fifty bazillion times a day. I’ve felt like that a lot over the past year – which is probably the opposite of shocking, seeing as how that’s when I doubled my need-o-meter by adding ANOTHER tiny helpless human to the mix. I’m not saying I haven’t enjoyed anything up until this point, but lately I’ve found myself doing a lot more fun kid stuff instead of parenting stuff. I almost say that I’d be OK with Evan dropping his nap if he wanted (it would free up our schedule SO MUCH!) but I’m not quite there yet. Sometimes I still need a minute to shower, you know?

DID YOU HEAR THAT UNIVERSE? I said DON’T drop the nap yet. DON’T.

I don’t think being exactly 2 years and 8 months old is the deciding factor in enjoying my kid more. I think it mostly has to do with this stage of understanding and development and communication and self-control. I haven’t had to drag him kicking and screaming and crying out of anywhere for almost a month. He understands consequences BEFORE they happen, so I can threaten time out or no games or being sold to a circus without actually having to do it. He has ALL THE WORDS and can tell me what hurts or why he’s sad or what he needs without screaming at me. He can be reasoned with. And since we’re using our words when we’re angry, we’re also using our words when we’re sitting on the couch or riding in the car or watching TV or making dinner. He asks “whachu doin’, Mommy?” Yesterday I told him I was making a pinata for Caroline’s party. He looked it up and down, and then said “AWESOME Mommy! High five!”

How can you NOT love that kid?

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