It’s Not All Mary Poppins

Sound and fury

… signifying nothing.

Monday: Dad comes in, looking a bit harried. “I’m 45 minutes behind where I should be, but it took us that long to get out the door. First she had to have a story, and then we had to sing some songs, and then we couldn’t find her pink boots, only the grey ones. It took forty-five minutes before everything was just right, so we could leave!”

Tuesday: Dad hands me a box of Cheerios. “Do you mind feeding her some breakfast? She wouldn’t sit down to eat, so I had to chase her with the spoon, and I think most of it ended up on the floor.”

Wednesday: Dad to daughter. “We learned something new today, didn’t we, sweetie? We learned how to sit in a Big People seatbelt!” He turns to me. “She wouldn’t get into her carseat, so we compromised with a seatbelt.”

Thursday: “I’m late! She insisted on pushing the stroller instead of riding in it, and now I have a client waiting in my office for me right now.”

Friday: Child comes wearing a jacket inappropriate to the weather. “She refused to wear her snow-suit, so we had to settle for this. I figure if you can get these tights on her under her jeans…?”

The door closes on dad. Emma looks at me, her eyes wide with disbelief.

“How old is she?”
“Not quite two.”
“And she weighs, what, twenty pounds?”
“Something like that.”
“And he can’t win an argument with her? What’s she going to be like when she’s fourteen? Geez. Come on, guy, she comes up to your knee. You can take her.”

She’s right, of course. When your opponent’s primary weapon is neither reason nor strength, but merely a loud shriek… okay, a really, really, really loud shriek… it’s just noise, guy. Noise. There are some battles you just don’t need to lose against… noise.

January 22, 2010 - Posted by | health and safety, manners, parenting, parents, Peeve me, power struggle, tantrums, whining | , , , , ,


  1. Boy that Emma of yours is a wise one isn’t she?

    And nevermind 14, what’s that child going to be like in a couple of years? I shudder to think.

    “You can take her.” Love it!

    Emma grew up in a daycare. It shows, doesn’t it? Oh, and she is exceptional, OF COURSE. 😀

    The ‘you can take her’ line was what made me decide to blog that incident. Too funny.

    Comment by Zayna | January 22, 2010 | Reply

  2. Wow, I can’t believe he let her ride in an *adult* seatbelt. 😦 Arguing with her about the other things? Meh, it’s his time. But safety should be non-negotiable!

    Yes. I’ve found that even the wussiest of parents can usually find the strength to stand firm on obvious safety issues… but not all, evidently! Apparently he figured a lap belt was just as good, and easier than simply… putting her in the seat.

    This is a child who has learned that everything is up for discussion. Well, not ‘discussion’, given that, despite her fluent English, her contribution is never more than a shriek or a whine. And she wins! Every time! I’ve given some gentle suggestions. Perhaps the time has come for more serious Parent Education.

    Comment by BookMama | January 22, 2010 | Reply

  3. I would say that Parent Education is definitely needed. Children need to know that the word “no” applies, even to them occasionally.

    Children are happier when their world is supported by a parent with the strength to be the parent. I will tell you that this child spends 90% of her days with me sunny and laughing, and, from what I’ve seen, about 60% of her time with her dad whining, fuming, and raging.

    Comment by Dani | January 22, 2010 | Reply

  4. Be. A. Man.

    Snort. After hearing me rant about this for a few minutes, my husband picked up on one of the phrases I’d been tossing about, perhaps a little too liberally. “Hey! THAT should be the title of your book! ‘Do You Have the BALLS to be a Parent?'” Mwah-ha.

    Comment by Rayne of Terror | January 22, 2010 | Reply

  5. I HATE when parents let children be the boss of them. Does no one any good. Least of all the child. Hate it.

    Oh, me too! It’s so bad for everyone.

    Comment by Mwa | January 22, 2010 | Reply

  6. I wasn’t sure how to respond yesterday when a neighbor was complaining that her son “had decided” to play both soccer and baseball this spring. She was unhappy that she’d “have to” be so busy driving him around. (Um, tell him ‘no’?)

    I KNOW! Who’s the grown-up? I always kept my kids’ activities to two at a time: one physical, one not. In part this was because I am philosophically opposed to over-scheduling children — but also because I am consitutionally opposed to over-scheduling myself! Everyone needs down-time, mothers included.

    Comment by Jill in Atlanta | January 22, 2010 | Reply

  7. THIS.

    This is why I want to be a parent. So I can SHOW PEOPLE HOW IT’S DONE. I don’t think my kids will scream less than other people’s kids. I don’t think they will necessarily be BETTER than other people’s kids. But dang it, I can win a battle of wills against someone not quite two.

    If I didn’t know what you did for a living, I’d be saying in my head, ‘Famous last words. She has no idea how powerful a force a two-year-old can be.’ (Which is not to say you can’t win battles of wills against them. You can and you MUST. People are often taken aback by the fury of a thwarted toddler, is all.)

    BUT. You train dogs. If there’s a profession better suited to teaching you the necessary skills to toddler-wrangling (consistency, persistance, sensible and immediate consequences), I have yet to come across it. I think you’ll do just fine.

    Comment by ifbyyes | January 22, 2010 | Reply

  8. “You can take her” made me snarf my drink.

    I love it when you post things like this because I feel a little less like a bad parent. At least I don’t do THAT. Chase her with a spoon? How about “sit your butt down right now and eat or you will go hungry.” And then I apologize to the caregiver for giving her a hungry cranky kid but explain why.

    And, hungry cranky kid notwithstanding, your caregiver will appreciate it.

    Comment by Trish C | January 22, 2010 | Reply

  9. But!

    But she never sounded so naughty when in your custody….

    Dad need to learn to say No.

    He does indeed. She knows how to take a ‘no’… when the person knows how to deliver one … she does all the time with me. And that, of course, is why she is not so naughty in my care, the little monkey.

    Comment by Suzi | January 23, 2010 | Reply

  10. The parents will have a hard life. Better tell them the secret to an easier life, even if it may not go down well, they’ll be endlessly thankful in the future (or not, but you know you’ve done good for them).

    Comment by cartside | January 23, 2010 | Reply

  11. Too right! That child will only get stronger and more willful, and I am not compleetely opposed to using size advantage, particularly when cramming small people into strollers when they try to imitate a plank.

    I hate to see parents cede control like that – but then, I am being taught a bit by The Bun on the subject of hair cuts, so. (Really, I used to be aghast at hearing “he won’t let me” – I mean, who is the parent, here? – until he starting throwing his hands up and shaking his head wildly and I cannot put scissors in there without maiming him, so on this one point, I’m feeling slightly beaten.)

    “Imitate a plank”. Love it. And of course: sometimes there is no other option but to use the size advantage. You don’t generally have to do it often. Once they’ve grasped it’s a possibility, they don’t (often) push it that far.

    That’s a dilemma with the Bun, for sure. I suppose you could manage it with three people to hold him down. Maybe. Or perhaps bribery: have someone wave something edible in front of him while you snip? But then he’d probably just get enraged that you weren’t GIVING it to him! Oh, well. I’ll bet he’ll look just darling with those curls bouncing on this shoulders… 😀

    Comment by kittenpie | January 26, 2010 | Reply

  12. For now, I take a snip or two at him every couple of days until he looks less unkempt – but when he hears the scissors, he loses it. i think it may just be something to be waited out for a while until he is more reason-ready.

    Comment by kittenpie | January 28, 2010 | Reply

    • Kittenpie – or do what I resorted to when mine would freak out over getting their nails cut – do it when they’re asleep. Soundly asleep, but at least you’d get half his head, depending on how he’s sleeping? Then hope he rolls over & you can get the other side! 🙂

      Comment by Ms. Huis Herself | January 28, 2010 | Reply

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