Monday, April 27, 2009

To (some) frazzled mothers of toddlers

I cover my ears, as I walk pass the primate house at the zoo. I start reciting Shel Silverstein poems to my children, to drown out the screams at the community pool. I pretend to look important as I scroll through my pink BlackBerry, to avoid making eye contact at the farm. I am miserable when out at places filled with other kids and feel like I am going to explode soon...

"Do you wanna go home? Huh? Huh? Do you wanna go home? Stop. That. Now." A mother screams at her toddler, on the floor of the condiment aisle, busy stacking mustard bottles like Legos.

"Do you really want to go home. Really? Do you really want to go home. Stop it!!!" A whiny mother of two asks her child at the JCC park after they threw sand in another child's eyes.

"If you do that one more time, we are going home. Stop it. I said... if you do it one more time, we are going home. Do you wanna go home? Stop it." I watch a mother dust off the rocks her toddler son was picking up from the ground of the petting zoo. For the fourth time in a row. Ewww.


"Stop it.
Please? Please, stop it. You want to go home? Do you? Please stop it. Do you want to go home?" A mother of twin girls begs her daughter to stop screaming at the ice scream store.


I used to be a better actress and offer my condolences, "Oh, I have been there too." However, I can no longer make eye contact, smile, and exchange a moment of sympathy. I'm old. I have a grey hair. I am far less patient with my own kids (who aren't little angels themselves) let alone with random encounters. I get easily annoyed when observing any tantrum.

If I hear one more frazzled mother ask her child, "Do you wanna go home?" I will explode ... "DON'T ASK. TAKE THE KID HOME!!! It will be easier next time when they know you are serious." Gah. I am getting old. What type of anti-aging wrinkle cream do you use, while we are on the subject, you know.... for my forehead that shows permanent signs of exhaustion.

67classy comments:

So Not Mom-a-licious said...

I love you now more than ever! I thought I was the only one who was kid intolerant. It's like other people think that just because I have a child, I like children. Well, I don't not like them, I just have no patience for most other kids. Mostly when it comes to flying. Because my son ricks on the airplane! But other parents see me and think "ohhhh, there's another kid, I should sit by her." No, please don't. My son is so content and manageable...until another child starts screaming. Then what does he do..exactly.

Also, I am with you on the stop asking if they want to go home. Or want a time-out. You should never ask that, and just implement it! I hate to say this, but my husband is the worst about this. I can't tell you how many times I have had to say to him "Stop asking him if he wants a time out!!! Just do it already!"

Okay, I am done with my rant. Thank you. You definitely hit home here and I just had to let my frustrations out too!

Nap Warden said...

Now, I am not going to defend the "do you want to go home mothers" but I'd be lying if I said I haven't been one. The truth is, I desperately don't want to drag The Little Man, kicking and screaming off of the tractor at the Farm in the Zoo.

Sometimes, it's an empty threat. Just because I don't have the energy. Many times, I do follow through, and I drag two toddlers out of the Butterfly Museum. Bottom line, parenting is hard...

My moisturizer...Olay Regenerist:)

Rhea said...

I totally get irritated with parents who don't follow through (even thought I know I've been guilty of the same). Don't threaten to take your kids home if you aren't going to do it. They totally SEE THROUGH YOU!

Sheesh.

And I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE Shel Silverstein.

Megryansmom said...

I hate those parents, hate em, hate em, hate em. I just want to scream discipline your kid or I'm going to pick your husband up and beat you with him. Welcome back, you were missed.

Daddy Rogue said...

This seems like such an obvious thing, but so many people SCREW IT UP!

For us this became apparent with bath-time. Very early on, I was guilty of asking Little Man, "Are you ready to get out?" My wife clued me in. He'll never be ready to get out. It doesn't matter whether he's ready to get out or not. I am the "pater familias" and I get to decide when he gets out...or is done eating...or needs to leave the petting zoo (to return to your example).

Great post, terrible habit parents have!

C and C Mommy said...

I can totally relate....

By the way, I bought shower gel that makes your skin look younger....I hate getting old!!

Junebug said...

My children are grown and when I see and hear tantrums in various places I visit, I try to steer clear because I feel like telling the child to stop it myself. I heard on tv the other day that you should never say anything or offer advice to parents in these situations. I agree. Once when I was young, I had my children (three of them) in Wal-Mart and I guess I had told them "no." A woman walked by us and said to me, "No, no, no. Is that all you can say?" I was young and so surprised that I felt like crying. It's better not to say anything. My children honestly did not through tantrums. I am amazed at how many do nowadays.

Junebug said...

I meant "throw." And believe me I am not lecturing you! :D

The White House said...

I *heart* you. You are hilarious and express so well what we all want to say.

I think what those desperate mothers are really thinking is, "I just spent 2 hours dressing you; packing the diaper bag with snacks, sippy cups, diapers, extra clothes, wipes, hand sanitizer; feeding you; and driving 30 minutes in the car with Laurie Berkner blaring in my ears when I would rather listen to talk radio- AND YOU ARE ACTING LIKE A FOOL. If I follow through on this threat to take you home, I may have to open a can of whoop a$$ and a bottle of wine. And it is only 11:30!!!"

krissy said...

I use wine instead of anti wrinkle cream because really, the wine makes me feel so much better and thanks to the "wine goggles" I don't see the wrinkles anyway. Hahaha.

Other children drive me nuts too. Parents who let their children act like crazed maniacs tick me off. Parents whom don't understand that by allowing their children to get whatever they want to shut them up is only going to hinder the child in later years make me want to throw up.

Actually, come to think of it, I'm just easily annoyed. LOL.

Heather said...

I was never tolerant of that type of behavior when the girls were little. I think since they aren't that age any more it makes it easier when I see 'those' parents. I always smile, not because I have have sympathy for them but rather because I am thankful that we are well past that age.

Heather @ Domestic Extraordinaire said...

and that was me above-I logged in with the wrong user name & it worked-I was surprised. I never remember signing up with that name.

Heidi said...

ok, so my cousin is the "do you want to go home" mom and it DRIVES ME CRAZY! I tell my husband all the time, "I hope I am not that kind of mother" at 15 months old, my son gets one warning, after that, he loses the toy, gets a swat on the butt, or whatever my "threat" was. I hope I am teaching him that his behavior/actions have consequences (good & bad) And, when he gets cranky and irritating (uh, i mean irritable) when we are out, I GO HOME! **deep breaths** ok, I feel better now, thanks!

Jenera said...

Oh I don't ask. If my kid is throwing a tantrum, we're out of there. I'm lucky in that I've only had it happen a couple times in his short three years because he knows I mean business. I don't bargain with the kid at all.

I get irritated with some of our family members who just yell and scream and never follow through and their kid knows it. I am already having to teach my kid that other people are crazy and to not follow their not so good behavior.

Zoeyjane said...

Yup. I have been known to leave a full cart at the grocery store, (in the past) a complete happy meal untouched and even birthday parties. I've bagged up her toys and put them away for a day and sent her to bed at 6:30.

I never ever threaten something I'm not going to follow through on, and I've got one who's prone to acting out. She gets one warning and then the threat is fulfilled.

Because I? Cannot stand how kids who know they can walk all over their parents act.

Desiree Fawn said...

Ha! Brilliant, once again ^_^

Jill said...

My daughters were horrific at the grocery store this afternoon... I swear I left bruises on each of their arms as I pulled them apart from each other several times and through clenched teeth told them to, "cut the bleep out." Even one of the baggers gruffly told them to behave.

I threatened to take away the only thing I knew important to them... their blankies they sleep with at night. They told me they didn't care - they kept going at it.

Fast forward 2+ hours when I put them to bed... without their loveys. Tons of crying, lots of "it won't happen agains..." and as much as it hurt - I didn't give in.

It was a painful night for all of us - but I'm hoping to use this as a foundation... hoping.

Kari said...

I hear you...so annoying. I try to use some advice from a fellow blogger - tell them just once, then show them. So, if you say you're going home if they don't stop xyz, then you're supposed to take them home immediately if they don't stop xyz. It's really made me think, before I threaten.

Ringleader said...

I feel bad admitting it- but other people's kids frequently annoy the heck out of me. Not that mine can't behave like monsters from time to time... but they are MY monsters and I am quick to put the ke-bash on monster-like behavior. One rule I had, especially when they were younger, is that I NEVER buy them anything not on our list when they are with me at a store- so "don't even ask... put it on your birthday list"- goes pretty far toward avoiding those types of melt-downs.

Also, I wish people wouldn't let their kids out of the car/stroller/restaurant high chair, if you know they are just going to run off and then the rest of us have to listen to them yelling for them to "come back or stay with Mommy" repeatedly... pre-emptive parenting techniques are the key here!

Jessica said...

Being a mommy is hard, but I think empty threats only make it more difficult. I know my in-laws think I'm the meanest mom sometimes, but I'm a big believer in the "you have a decision to make right now. Do you want to behave or not? If not, we will go home." I feel that gets through to my daughter the best because she realizes that ultimately it's her decision and she is to blame if it doesn't go the way she wants it to. We have had to leave before, but for the most part she's got it figured out now!

Secret Mom Thoughts said...

I hate when parents don't follow through on threats. No wonder the kid is misbehaving, there is no consequence.

Smart A$$ Mom said...

Um? My post this week at NJMom's? I had to rework it because I thought I would offend all the mom's of toddlers. I pretty much declared my annoyance for their mom's and sometimes even them.

MommyTime said...

I know what you mean! It's very hard not to hiss that threat. But if one can use it judiciously, it can be very effective. Case in point: I spent an extremely un-enjoyable 45 minutes once, sitting in the car with a tantruming 3 yr old who had "done it again" (whatever IT was) and therefore had to be taken out of the Children's Museum while all his cousins got to stay. We both had a horrible time. But I won. He believed me when I said we would leave. I have also left the swimming pool 15 minutes after getting there (and if you know how long it takes to get two of them ready to swim and then dried off and changed, you know THAT visit wasn't worth it). I find that if one makes the threat when it can be carried out (we have annual memberships at both places, so I didn't care if we wasted the opportunity that one time), it is astonishingly effective.

amanda said...

YES YES YES YES YES!! thank you. i too get driven nuts by those parents who choose to be a friend first. i'm their mommy first. no messing with me. i do as i say and say as i do. that's that.

brown eyed girl said...

I think all parents should make good on their threats. My parents used to give me a warning that they'd take me home if I didn't start behaving. The second I did it again, off to home we went! Effective, even if I hated them for a little bit for doing it!

Kel said...

I used to have so much patience..ok, maybe not that much but definitely more than now. I always thought age would bring me more, but it seems age is just taking away more than I've got to spare...haha, I can totally relate to everything you are saying!

Happy Monday!!
~K

the planet of janet said...

oh, honey, i am SO with you. the other one that drives me to distraction is the addition of "ok?" to the end of every declarative sentence.

"Go to bed, ok?"

"Put on your jacket, ok?"

"Stop hitting your sister, ok?"

uh... ok??? no, there are no choices here and "ok?" gives them one.

makes. me. insane!

Steph @ Diapers and Divinity said...

I embrace your philosophy and agree whole-heartedly. It's an effort I try to be consistent about with my own kids.

I wonder if I knew more about the other people's lives and history and events of the day if I would be more tolerant with them, because I'm not, so I'm *trying* to learn to give people the benefit of the doubt. Having said that, I hate going places that are inundated with day-care groups. I don't have tolerance for large minimally-supervised and minorly-disciplined children. That's when I leave. I'd rather come back to the zoo on a day when the wild things are animals instead of children.

I am P said...

Sometimes the "do you wanna go home" threat works, but when you have to repeat it, it looses its effect. Those "repeaters" are afraid to carry the threat through.

Tiffany @ Lattes And Life said...

When my daughter was around 3 or 4 maybe? (she's now 16...so it's been awhile!)...we went to Toys R Us. We lived in a VERY remote area, so it took an hour to get there. She started to throw the biggest fit...so I scooped her up and we turned right around and went home. To this day she remembers that, and reminds me of it. But she never gave me grief in a store again!!

LceeL said...

You are so right. The answer is so simple. Gather the child up and do it - take him/her home. Start toward the car. You might get persuaded to turn around and stay, but your child will realize there are limits to behavior and there are real consequences when those limits are passed.

Blessings From Above said...

Empty threats are a HUGE pet peeve of mine!!!

Krystyn said...

My hubby? Totally guilty of this. I tell him empty threats don't work. Then, I end up being the mean mommy that follows though. But, I typically do!

Tara R. said...

There have been a number of shopping carts left abandoned, trips cut short, because I refused to let my kids have control over a situation. You are so right, don't tell them... DO IT! I still do it and my baby is almost 16yo.

Mandy said...

Thank God I'm not alone. I can't stand the pre-pre-warnings to the pre-warnings, to the warnings and then on to the punishments. Get a handle on your kiddos people!!! Tell them once and then do it!!! :) Thanks, now I feel better.

Amy @ Milk Breath and Margaritas said...

Olay Regenerist. I buy bulk at Costco. heh.

I've found myself giving too many warnings in exhausted moments (less and less with each kid), but it's clearly not a good habit.

You are right. The first time you up and leave someplace when they don't listen makes a huge impression.

Tee aka The Diva's Thoughts said...

I totally agree!!! Jsut that kid home already. It shows youare serious and not to be played with.

For more skin, I use Olay Total Effects Daily Moisturizer and its great!

Gotfam said...

Agreed. Asking toddlers questions...well, we all know what types of answers to expect.

"do you want to eat just sugary candy for dinner and never go to bed?"
"Do you want mommy to ram her head against a wall over and over again?"
"do you want to flush your sister down the toilet"

of course they do...they're toddlers.

Irene said...

Oh my! I SO agree with you! I hate empty threats!!!!

Kate Coveny Hood said...

Luckily - you don't live in the DC area - because I'm sure you would be yelling at me. I'm queen of empty threats. My favorites are "do you want a spanking?" and "do you need a nap?" Of course I never enforce either. I like to think that I make up for my poor parenting skills in the manners department. My kids are very polite. And their tantrums usually happen at home, so very few outsiders see me screaming empty threats.

Renny said...

You know, I never liked for kids to come over to our house. I have a sister that is ten years younger than me, and a brother that is 13 years younger than me. So when I was in high school I hated for them to have little friends overs.
They're loud and demanding. We were trained to be quiet as children because my dad worked the graveyard shift and was sleeping during the day. Then other kids come over with loud high pitched voices and I no longer think they are cute. Plus they demand food and then are picky about what they're given, my mom always taught us you eat whatever you're given and you never ask for more than a glass of water!
As much as I would think, "I can't stand that kid," every time certain kids would come over to play, I would more be thinking, "why do you have such crappy parents?" Harsh, I'm sure. They're good people, but for some reason, they let their kids get away with murder.
When parents follow through on those threats they teach their children respect for themselves and others.

Every Day Goddess said...

First off I use Aloette products and love, love, love the line relief they have!! It is awesome!!

My kids are 10 and older now so we don't have the tantrums but I never put up with it either. Drives me crazy the "Do you want to go home!! of course they don't!"

I had a horrible experience at church one time when my middle child was 3, he was being loud so I went to take him out and he started kicking and screaming because he didn't want to go. Some parent afterwards confronted me and told me what a bad parent I was for giving him a talking to when we got out of the church, mind you I was telling him that he can't act that way, and the parent let me know he was acting just fine in church. Great place to be judged by others right ;)

Jennifer said...

I'm with you! I'm only 28, but I can't handle that either! It makes me want to scream!

Stephanie said...

Ugh, I think I heard myself saying that once and I couldn't believe it. However, for the record I follow through. I have a general rule of 2 strikes and your out. First warning is a reminder, second the do it or die. I get a lot of compliments on how well behaved they are. Chicken tries me the most...just like our visit to the pediatrician this morning. He looks at me with those defiant blue eyes and keeps doing it anyway. The one place where I hesitate to discipline in any form!

However, today, my patience was up with him and while Punky was getting her stitches examined, I looked at Chicken and said, "If you don't behave, I'm going to have Dr. D stitch YOU up." He looked at me, I looked at him. He decided I was serious and was an angel the rest of the visit! I guess I do SOMETHING right occasionally! ;oD

Burgh Baby said...

Empty threats make me INSANE. There is a whole gaggle of mothers who practically chant a litany of empty threats every week at dance class. GAH!

Kari said...

Thank you for posting this! But, I must admit that I have been guilty of the empty threat! I *try* to give one warning, then if it happens again, I *try* to follow through. Like, I said, I TRY!! I read through the comments and I saw one that said something to the effect of they worked so hard to get out of the house, they would hate to just go back home. I completely agree with that. Because that is usually case...I never threaten to go home!!!! haha Have you ever seen someone tell their kid, Do you want to go to time out!? and the kid laughs and thinks it's a joke. I have seen a few kids do that. Charlotte doesn't always obey me, but she definitely doesn't think discipline is funny.
I try my best to teach Charlotte that her actions have consequences. Parenting is not easy. And being consistant is hard. But noone said this journey would be easy, right?

Tracey - Just Another Mommy Blog said...

You make me smile...

I hate the idle threats. My husband is a BIG culprit of them. I don't threaten "do you want to go home?" I threaten "Do you want to lose your privileges? One more word and NO TV!!!" Seriously. It works and they shut the heck up. :)

Chris said...

Amen, sister! Totally agree. It's tough, but if you do it the first time, future incidents will be so much easier!

Indy said...

I love this. I have noticed that I don't like first time moms. They make me CRAZY! I know this sounds mean but once you have more than one, you just see the world differently. So, I too put my face down and make no eye contact. Good to know that I am not the only one.

Im2Sexy4MyVan said...

OMG ... was that me you ran into at the zoo today??? OK, I'm just kidding, but a couple years ago it could have been, before I learned the art of the effective CHOICE from my SIL.

"Do you want to clean up your mess or sit in the naughty chair?" (-- Funny how there always happens to be a naughty chair anywhere we go...) "Do you want to take turns on the DS, or give it to me for the next 3 days?" "Do you want to adjust your attitude or cancel the rest of your playdates this week?"

Key is to let them know the consequence and decide to make a better choice themself. But yes, yes, yes. As all your mommy followers point out, you have to follow thru.

I find it helps neutralize the power struggle too. They know the choice/consequence and decide which it will be. It is not Mommy's fault. She just has to follow thru.

And sister, you already know the answer to the wrinkle cream question. If there was 1 magic cream, we would all be drinking it by the gallon. First step is to stay well hydrated and get enough rest. We all know that isn't likely, so instead I recommend:
1) Arbonne Re9 transforming lift; 2)Arbonne Re9 facial serum; 3) Arbonne Re9 Eye Cream; )Arbonne Re9 Night Cream. Without these my face would look like a shattered windshield.

Lisa said...

amen!

rockanddrool said...

amen. empty threats don't work. that's why kids act up and don't stop. because they know that NOTHING is going to happen.
it's so annoying.
see...now i know why i love ya!! except the thing that sucks is...i was going to write a post about the same type of subject matter...sigh.

Cecily R said...

Okay, I admit it. I am the QUEEN of inconsistent discipline. I really stink in that department. HOWEVER. I do not make scenes in public. If the shorties choose to do so, we walk out of wherever we are. Its one thing I do well.

And then in the comfort of home or the car, I fall apart. I swear, this mommy thing is HARD.

Allison Says said...

You aren't alone. I hate hearing other kids' tantrums. HATE it. It's fine if it's short lived, but when the parent doesn't DO anything about it? Ugh.

I must admit to pulling that: "If you keep freaking out we are going home." And Alex loves being out so it generally calms him down. If he doesn't stop after the second time I say it (I give him twice, he IS only one and a half) I actually take him home. It's when the parent DOESN'T do anything that it gets irritating.

You aren't the only old one, I promise.

Caroline said...

Oh my...I hang my head down in shame. Yep, I am "one of those moms" for sure. My hubs tells me so all the time. It sucks, really. Because who wants to have a huge grocery cart full of food and just leave the store? Or, be at a gymnastics meet for your daughter when ornery 4 starts running around like he's on serious sugar, or when you are in church and he won't stop asking "Is it time to go yet? No, it is NOT time to go. I am not going to pick up and leave just because you are being annoying. It is so tough to discipline in public. I am not a perfect parent and realize that my 4 yr old probably bugs others around him..and I think it is about finding the balance of when to chose to leave and when it is better to stay. I don't know. I just don't know. Caroline *mommy of two (one with two missing front tooth ~cute!~ and the other ornery one, getting better everyday from Eczema...thank you God and Vidazorb).

Kelly said...

I have panic attacks if I'm in my kids' daycare too long. Not only is it hot in there, but the other kids are all loud at the same time and I just can't handle the volume. I start to freak...

Anti-aging = Olay Regenerist Anti-Aging Foam. I don't know if it works, I just started using it. BUT I have faith!

thatjaymegirl said...

Hahaha! This is funny! I have said this before, I must admit. My son is 2 but it does work for the most part. I WILL follow through. I mostly quit doing it though, because I don't wanna go home!! So there are other things I do now! I hate seeing mothers out there that do this over and over and over! Just like you I want to say "TAKE THEM HOME"!

designHER Momma said...

for the most part I can turn my head and just be thankful that it's them and not me.

But.....when it gets to me, IT GETS TO ME. I'll admit that other peoples ill behaved kids annoy me to all get out. Oh, especially in Church.

MIT Mommy said...

I ALWAYS make the threat something I desperately want to do - it seems like those mothers don't really WANT to go home. My favorite is always "Would you like to watch Mommy sit here, drink her coffee, and read the paper?!" Oh, they know I'll do it too. =)

Pamela Kramer said...

Oh good lord you are so right. That's all I'm saying! Oh and when you get the name of that cream pass it on, would you?

Colleen - Mommy Always Wins said...

Heh - I'm proud to say I'm that Mommy who threatens "DO YOU WANT TO GO HOME?!?" and my kids are afraid. Cuz I've taken them home before.

At the same time I admit - there are days I'm so tired that I can't even make the threat. We just head home. :-)

Brittany said...

HAHAHAHA! I totally didn't see you standing there in the mustard aisle..sorry you overheard me:)

Flea said...

A.MEN. Take them home. Experience is a wonderful teacher if you let it be.

Michele said...

Going home from the grocery store would probably be the child's dream. I always ask if they want to be in "trouble" which is code word for consequences. It works 100% of the time in public. I know what you mean though. I feel I am losing my patience some with my girls especially the fighting. It drives me batty. I am so not looking forward to summer because all my girls do is fight. Pookie whines and Peanut takes her stuff and antagonizes her. 2 1/2 and 7 is so much fun. I cannot stand it. 6 to 8 weeks of it. AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH! I want a mommy vacation free of kids just for one day.

Pookie had a meltdown one time and I heard some advice from a child psychologist. If they are throwing tantrums in public just leave. It shows you are serious and helps you keep your sanity so I did. It shocked Pookie because she was not expecting me to just walk out from a cart full of groceries. I never had another issue again.

Jaina said...

THANK YOU!!!! I hate hearing the empty threats. If you aren't prepared to follow through, DON'T make them. It's so irritating. And you just perpetuate the problem by teaching them that they can get away with it.

Samantha said...

I completely agree. If your kid is acting up do not threaten to take them home, do it. Give them a warning once and then act on it if they continue the undesirable behavior. It is exhausting watching other adults pleading with their child to behave. Obviously no child will be perfect all of the time, especially when they are in public, but once they know you are serious they will start to understand what is appropriate behavior in public and what is not. Mine certainly know what is expected of them at this point and that when I say no I certainly mean it - although that doesn't mean I don't occasionally have to take them home of course :)

Controlling My Chaos said...

Those moms must not know about the stealthy pinch.

 

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