An unfiltered fire hose of flaming condemnation

Poker face

My friend called yesterday in a mild panic to tell me that her daughter who is two days older than Leta had figured out how to climb out of her crib. She and I read the same children’s sleep book, and I asked her if she had gone back to see what it said about situations like this. She said the advice was a little crazy, that she should lock the door and if the kid gets out of the crib to let her fall asleep on the floor. And also? That she shouldn’t worry if the kid falls while hoisting her body over the railing because the risk of injury is negligible. A scientific expert is suggesting that babies can bounce.

I don’t remember that chapter of the book, but it doesn’t really matter because I’m ignoring the possibility that Leta will ever need to sleep in a bed without bars. However, I’m afraid that if we don’t transition her from the crib into a regular bed soon that we will be facing a battle we could have otherwise avoided. A few months ago we began putting Leta into two-minute time-outs in a small chair against a wall in the living room. I was worried, knowing very well the magnitude of her will in the past (see: that one time she went 30 hours without eating just to prove a point), that she would realize that she could just get up out of the chair and walk away. And the first time we did it she did exactly that, hopped out of the chair, walked over to the book she had thrown across the room, picked it up and looked at me like, do you have any other orders that I can willfully disregard?

I put her right back in the chair, though, and continued to do so when she got up for a second and third time. It was after the third time that her lip began quivering with the realization that, oh my god, this woman is serious, life is a prison. Since that first episode she has never moved an inch when we put her into a time-out, and afterward she won’t even look in the direction of whatever it is that got her in trouble in the first place. She is very much like Chuck this way, and whenever we find a stuffed animal with a missing limb — a duck with no beak, a bunny with no cotton tail, an octopus with only three remaining tentacles — all we have to do is show it to him and he will incriminate himself by collapsing on the floor with his ears glued to the back of his head, his eyes darting wildly around the room to look at something, anything other than the amputee, his entire body full of dread that I will put that toy on his head and take a picture of it to show thousands of people.

I like to believe that we got in our bluff early with Leta, and that maybe if we put her into a regular bed soon she will remain in it until we give her an indication that it’s okay to get out. Not likely, I know, and it will require a bit of work on our part, but she is taking our disciplinary routine so seriously that yesterday she put the cow figurine from Noah’s Ark into a time-out on Elmo’s potty.

“TWO MINUTES!” she screamed while pointing an angry finger into the cow’s face. “SIT THERE FOR TWO MINUTES!”

Those delinquent, biblical cows are always causing trouble.

It didn’t move, of course, and she stood a few feet away with her arms crossed over her chest knowing that it had to stay put because she said so. I think I have just pulled off the ultimate parental coup in that my child now believes that BECAUSE I SAID SO requires no further explanation.

  • Trinity

    That’s freaking hilarious!

    Because I said so! Hah! We’ll see how long it lasts, however, because my kids realized real quick that “because I said so” means nothing.

  • there’s a run in my pantyhose!

    My son is so weird. He will get in his bed, whether it be nap time or bed time and even if he doesn’t fall asleep for 2 hours, he will not get out. He’ll flail around calling out “Mommy” or yelling because his blanket fell on the floor and he can’t reach it. He just will not get out. But once he goes to sleep, as soon as he wakes up, he’ll get out of bed and come running to wherever I am. I have no idea how it happened that way… we didn’t train him to do it. He’s just a strange duck, I suppose.

  • farebear

    I’m de-lurking … finally. I’ve been reading your site for months. You crack me up all the time, and I identify with a lot of the things you say, and identify with a lot of the things you experience (even some of the Mormon stuff, although I am an active Mormon).

    Anyway, once again I laughed out loud in the quiet of my house as my daughter and dogs sleep through their afternoon naps. The description of Chuck and his avoidance of eye contact and shifty body language when presented with evidence of his chewing. It mirrored so closely the scenario with our dogs that I’ve never been able to look at so humorously. I think remembering your account will help me in future to take all their chewing more in stride and with a sense of humor.

    We moved our daughter Piper to a regular twin about a month ago. She is not quite 2, and her dad just got a bug up his butt that it was time. She’s tall, so she wasn’t really fitting in her crib very well and that was part of it. The rest was just whim. Yeah, fun whim. Its gone pretty darn well. we put a little railing along part of the bed so that she won’t roll off without some effort on her part, and have treated bed time exactly the same as we did when it was crib time. I did find her asleep on the floor the morning after the 2nd or 3rd night, sleeping pretty darn well actually. But I think she learned that she’s not very good at getting back up there on her own and now she doesn’t get down, no matter how long it takes her to go to sleep. I’ve been very lucky in that she’s a darn good sleeper … I’m sure it could have been much worse when her dad got this particular bur under his saddle.

    AND, I started using time-outs with Piper a month or so ago. I think I do it wrong … or I’m not very good at picking which battles warrant a time-out. Because it usually turns into me making her sit there for a time limit or until she stops crying, neither of which seem very connected to whatever misconduct she’s performed. I’m not even sure she has known why she’s ended up there every time. I really need to refine my technique. I shouldl probably read something about it, instead of just guessing my way through it like I do most things.

    Wow, when I de-lurk, I DE-lurk in rambling, boring comments. Sorry.

  • mslieder

    Crib tent or razor wire…

  • Melissa
  • “Because I said so” were magic words in our house, they halted all conversation, leaving both kids with expressions of defeat. Until three or four days after Ryan (oldest) turned 15.

    Since then, “because I said so!” is met with merely: “… and?”

  • Jo would be so proud of you. Hell, she probably reads you and actually IS proud of you.

  • bluepaolo

    Oooh. comments.

    My two cents is that you want to get them (Leta) into the big bed now at her age, while the belief that she should do what you tell her to do is at least considered. We did this with our son around 26 months or so and he went along with it pretty well. Now that he is all of three, he is constantly testing limits as a matter of fact – often putting himself in timeout when he knows he’s crossed a line. But he hasn’t wavered from the bed thing, mostly because I think it hasn’t occured to him to challenge it. (pooping in the bathtub is another story…sigh) If we were trying to get him to sleep in a big bed at this age I really think it would be a lot harder. Of course every kid is different – but as you note – you have a stubborn one on your hands and it gets a little worse before it gets better.

  • daegad

    Don’t be so sure that, “Because I said so” won’t work in the future — hell, I’ve read your comment policy!
    (and you’ve no idea how many terrible things I’ve wanted to say about Britney, dooce!). . . besides you can always rely on the, “I’m counting to 3!” This still works on my 12 year old (and neither of us knows to this day what will happen if I ever reach 3)! Fear can be a wonderful tool when raising kids, I simply recommending instilling it as early as possible in their cognitive development.

    As for bed-transitioning, I don’t understand the problem. Kids will go through phases of not wanting to go to bed no matter where they sleep or what they’re sleeping in. They have their own reasons. I respect that, but (and here is my favourite:) “I wish you didn’t have to either! I’m only making you because it’s my job.”

  • SarahLou

    I’m just de-lurking because your comment box is open, and I signed up for TypeKey just for that reason!
    So, uh…hi! and good luck with the time-outs. Enjoy the “because I said so” while it lasts. When she’s a teenager, that shit won’t fly anymore.

  • ….and it is SO sweet when they STILL know you mean it BECAUSE YOU SAID SO when they are teens.

    All that repetition as toddlers? It lurks somewhere deep inside the teen. And they know to their core that they are deep doo when the choose defiance.

    And the choose defiance….. And when you ask if they REALLY expected to get away with it, you stifle a laugh when they say in a small voice… “no”.

    And ground their butt.

  • Ktkat

    Why oh why can’t “Because I said so” work on the average Joe on the street? It would make my life SO much easier. My baby is only 10 mos. old, so I have awhile before this particular dilemma overtakes my life. But, I will say this: I think that expert mistook babies for BUMBLES, cuz ya know, Bumbles DO bounce (“Lookie what HE can do!”).

  • Ktkat

    Why oh why can’t “Because I said so” work on the average Joe on the street? It would make my life SO much easier. My baby is only 10 mos. old, so I have awhile before this particular dilemma overtakes my life. But, I will say this: I think that expert mistook babies for BUMBLES, cuz ya know, Bumbles DO bounce (“Lookie what HE can do!”).

  • monkeyaker

    My mom used to put me in a time out when I did something wrong. Like when I was five and I flushed her wedding rings down the toilet– She put me in a time-out. The time-out chair was in a different state and I’m still currently sitting in it motionless waiting for her anger to subside. Oh, and I’m twenty-five now.

  • Go with SoonerGal’s suggestion and get the crib tent. SO worth it. I think my son Evan will be sleeping in his crib until he goes away to college. That way I’ll always know where he is at night.

  • Um Dooce…I love you and I think you’re freaking hysterical. But I have to warn you that Leta will soon figure out your tricks. Trust me, three is way different than two and Leta is getting there. She will one day learn that “because I said so” does not mean a fucking thing. I hate to scare you, but it had to be said.

    By the way, she look more and more like you every day. Love all the pictures.

  • I would try and help, but I slept in my pram (apparently) until I was four, what do I know.


  • Fortunately for me, kids do bounce, but only if they’ve fallen just the right way.

  • We just started time outs with my 2 year old, too. She sees her 4 year old sister get sent to time out often so the first time I sent her, she couldn’t quite decide whether she was injured or proud of herself for the punishment.

    I don’t know how the magic of time outs work. I was in Payless Shoes (you have to be THAT classy to hang with me) and my 3 year old would NOT stop running up and down the aisles. I would have let her but the clerk looked a little miffed about it. I told the child to stand by me and she Would. Not. Listen. Finally, I told her it was a time out – she had to sit at my feet in time out. She DID it. I’m not sure how much different “stand by me” or “sit her in time out” is in reality, but the words obviously carry some weight.

  • I have to remember these tips for when my wife and I have kids…

  • CJ mama

    40. The number of times I had to get up and put my 2 year old son back in bed at one particular naptime shortly after we moved him from crib to bed. I’m determined to find a better way with my daughter.

  • Congrats, Heather! Sounds like a whole new chapter of parenting has begun. BECAUSE I SAID SO!

  • Ugh, the thought of transitioning to a big kid bed for my 2 1/2 year old scares me to death!

  • feministbitch

    Congratulations, Heather! I think getting a two year old to stay in a time out is a HUGE accomplishment, worthy of at least a mild celebration (somewhere between Mormon and Girls Gone Wild). (-:

  • Have you been watching Supernanny?

    I guess it could be worse, Leta could be shoving the cow’s head down into the potty and making it stay there for 2 minutes.

  • We waited a really long time to put the kiddo into a toddler bed. She never tried to climb out of her crib, so we didn’t feel the need. But, by the time she turned three, we felt it was time regardless. We secured her dresser and bookcase to the walls and got a super strong gate for her room (no places for her to put her feet so she can climb over). In fact, we didn’t have to install the gate- we bought a pressure mounted gate (called the “hands free gate”- I LOVE IT!!).

    She loves her new big girl bed. Just loves it. Everybody warned me that she would be screaming at the gate night after night, but they couldn’t be more wrong.

    At nap time, she did try to get out of napping and would just play with her toys, but those days we just put her to bed earlier. I told her that she would get two hours of quiet time regardless of whether she napped or not, and she finally “got it”.

    Good luck 🙂

  • MaggieBelle

    I’m SO using “BECAUSE I SAID SO!” when my baby is old enough.

    I will also use “Because I’m the mom!”

  • Well, and if the “Because I said so” doesn’t work to keep her in the bed, there’s always superglue and duct tape.

  • chelle

    I have one word for you: Supernanny

    I have eight words for you: I adore So You Think You Can Dance!

    Good Luck with the big girl bed thing…

  • Mike-L

    My wife and I are expecting our first in November (it’s a girl!), and we can’t even get our dogs to sit. I hope in two years time I can get our little girl to obey a time out – if not, what are your feelings on Duct Tape as a child monitoring device?

  • s gazzetti

    We’re at the point of considering the transition to a ‘big-kid’ bed, too. We thought about it and then decided to just staple chickenwire over the top of the crib.

  • Wow, for a two year old to stay put in time-out is one thing. For a two year old to start giving time-outs to her toys, that is pretty cool.

    My 20 month old niece will sit on the time-out chair facing the wall and she will force herself to stop screaming long enough to pretend like she is having fun. She will put her hands up against the wall and start playing patty-cake with the wall, and she will giggle and smile in between sobs. It is like she is trying to say “SEE? I CAN have fun in Time Out! So THERE!”

  • The thought of her yelling TWO MINUTES at a toy cow is pretty hilarious. I wonder what it could have possibly done to deserve a time out?

  • at least leta isn’t ripping the limbs off things while chuck punishes god’s creatures. that would be weird.

  • Now, that’s what I call power. Unfortunately I don’t think it lasts forever, although I was scared enough of my parents to not try anything like drinking while I still lived under their roof. After I got out though? All bets were off.

  • ktjane

    I can’t wait until Leta starts a blog – she is HILARIOUS!

  • JenC

    Not that you need any more parenting advice, but the anonymity of the Internet just compels me 🙂

    We used your strategy with the time out for our 18-month-old and the bed. (We did it with both kids at that age.) It worked like a charm. Scared the crap out of them, if I recall.

  • Lisa

    Heather, I think the key is to get a high bed – that’s what we did for Juliet. She is so excited to climb up into it (quite a feat), and she loves stuffing bunny down in between the bed and the safety bar net side thingy so much that it hasn’t occurred to her to try to get out. Maybe Leta will be just so clueless?

  • mamablogs

    Keep her in the crib a few more months and then when you switch her to the bed, use that ole threaten the furry sloth bit.

  • We knew it was time to move our oldest to a “big person” bed when she climbed out of the crib and up onto her dresser. And then fell asleep there on top of the dresser.

  • I recall my own mother using “Because I said so” many, many times. Her other favorite was, “That’s what they teach us to do at Mom School.”

  • I -still- think “because I said so” is a valid reason. And I’m old enough to use the internet and form somewhat grammatical sentences. That’s how effective parental brainwashing can be.

  • Jennadog

    Funny you brought this subject up now since I have been thinking about it the past few weeks too. Until my son gave me no choice. He is 25 months and he just broke his wrist last week from falling out of the crib. He had never tried to get out before this day. Seeing your kid in a full arm cast is enough shame to suck it up and do it. He slept in a bed with rails for the first time this weekend and loved it! I put a gate up to keep him in his room.

    Good luck!

  • Sheila

    I was amazed and astounded on this past Sunday when we took the front bars of our two-and-a-half year old twins’ cribs. I too was sure that they would never stay in when they were able to get out. But they didn’t! They asked for a last kiss, standing up as always, and laid down and went to sleep. So far, they haven’t even gotten up in the morning – they still call out for us to fetch them.

    And not only do they bounce, they don’t even wake up! Every night for the past 3 nights they have each fallen once or twice out of bed (onto the pre-prepared pillows and blankets) and just KEEP SLEEPING. It’s hilarious.

  • What I love about the big kid bed is that I can snuggle with my son 🙂 and then go to MY big kid bed…alone! I am tall like you, and I hated hunching over the crib on the nights of exhaustion. Worst comes to worst, I have let him fall asleep and then crawled out to safety 🙂
    Luv ya Heather, needed your tender, funny insights on life today.

  • lazydays8401

    My 29-month-old hasn’t slept in a crib since she’s been about a year old. Not that this was my choice – she simply refused to sleep in her crib & has always wanted to sleep in a “big bed.” She doesn’t get out, though she does end up in some weird positions where she almost falls out. We were on a vacation recently & I slept in a queen-size bed with her. I awoke in the middle of the night in a panic because she wasn’t lying next to me only to find her at my feet.

  • miss megan

    I’m sure you get plenty of AWESOME child-rearing advice…yeah…so I feel like a jerk

    but (remembering back to my toddler days) I think what my parents did to get me to stay in my big girl bed was act like sleeping in a bed without bars was just the awesomest thing ever. And they showed me how my friend sleeps in a big girl bed and my cousins sleep in big girl beds. But I couldn’t sleep in one unless I stayed in bed.

    I wanted to be like them so I worked hard on staying in bed.

    Oh peer pressure.

  • I got a t-shirt for Mother’s Day with “Because I Said So” in white glitter. If only it said, “Now Get Me a Drink!” on the bacx!

    And I can’t tell you how it pleases me that someone else punishes their dog by putting the item in question on their head and taking photos. I have tons of photos of my dog with torn-up napkins, stuffed animals, paper plates and Big Mac containers on his head.

  • We bought one of those cribs where you can unscrew one side to make it a bed. My wife has been watching my daughter hang off the side of the bed rails for the last 10 months, asking “Do you think it’s time to take down the side for her?” Heck no.

    When Rhiannon started having night terrors about six months ago, we moved some unused couch cushions into her room next to the crib for one of us to lay down next to her until she quietted down. Those will make wonderful air pillows for her to fall on to if she ever makes it over the wire.

  • Chloe

    I made a bit of a big deal out of the transition – we went shopping for sheets for the bed, accessories, that type of stuff, so it was truly her bed by the time she had to sleep in it – plus the crib disappeared and she had no choice.

Heather B. Armstrong

Hi. I’m Heather B. Armstrong, and this used to be called mommy blogging. But then they started calling it Influencer Marketing: hashtag ad, hashtag sponsored, hashtag you know you want me to slap your product on my kid and exploit her for millions and millions of dollars. That’s how this shit works. Now? Well… sit back, buckle up, and enjoy the ride.

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