the smell of my desperation has become a stench

Two brief anecdotes

Jon, Leta, and I are spending a leisurely Saturday afternoon shopping at a nearby outdoor mall and hop into a furniture store just to browse what’s new. We test out a few couches, inspect a few coffee tables, and Leta admires several large pillows. She sees a gigantic floor pillow covered in a soft zebra pattern and declares that she would like one of those right now, please. I check its price tag, gag on the idea of handing over a mortgage payment for a pillow that would no doubt be covered in Capri Sun stains within ten minutes of being in our house, and declare that it will not be coming home with us. But she said please. Yeah, and I said no. But she said the whole thing nicely. Yeah, and your point is? Mama would very much like a bigger set of tits right now, please. See how that didn’t work?

Jon and I head toward the exit and can feel the temperature in the room rising with Leta’s anger, and suddenly she throws her body face first onto the floor. We step over her body and pretend that we don’t know whose kid that is, remarking to each other that some people really need to learn to get control over their rotten offspring, and when she sees that it’s fourth down and twenty yards to go she turns over on her back and yells up from the floor, “OH MY GOD THE HELL.”

Both Jon and I whip around and give her The Menacing Stare, the So Help Me God I Will Risk Going To Prison If That’s What This Is Going To Take kind of glare, and when she makes eye contact with us she yells it again, only this time lingering on the last syllable as if she were singing the national anthem: “OH MY GOD THE HELLLLLLLLLLLLL!”

I march over to her horizontal body, pick her up and throw her over my shoulder like one might do a friend who has passed out from too much tequila and needs to be moved so that you don’t run her over when you back out of the driveway, and quickly transport her outside. There I set her down, and then I squat so that my face is about a centimeter from hers and inform her that what she just did was totally unacceptable. And I think the speed with which that whole maneuver takes place has scared the living HELLLLLLLLLLLLL out of her because her lower lip starts to tremble and she says, “Okay, Mama.” I ask her if she knows what she did wrong, but she is too terrified to answer me. If my dad had been standing there he would have given me a high five as this is the patented Hamilton Method of parenting.

“Leta, we told you never to use those words outside of the house, remember?”

“Yes, Mama,” she says, a tear forming in her right eye.

“And if you ever do this again you’re not going to be allowed to use those words inside the house either. You understand?”


Jon and Leta have gone upstairs to have breakfast, and I stumble in about thirty minutes later half awake, half dead. I head straight for Jon to give him a hug and thank him for getting up with the kid, and as we’re lingering in a sleepy embrace Leta shouts, “Let’s do a family hug!”

She hops down from the table where she is eating a bowl of Fruit Loops, runs over to us, and we pick her up and nuzzle her neck while squeezing each other to the point of discomfort. I give her a final kiss on the forehead before setting her down, and as I go to give Jon a kiss she proudly stares up at both of us as if we’re her children and have just graduated with honors. “That right there…” she says, “…that was a damn good family hug.”

  • Kelly

    2008/09/22 at 2:38 pm

    *wipes away tear*

    You’ve taught her so well. Proud!

  • jennielynn

    2008/09/22 at 2:40 pm

    Could you be any prouder?

  • Anonymous

    2008/09/22 at 2:40 pm

    I feel a tear coming to MY eye.

  • thleen

    2008/09/22 at 2:41 pm

    Excellent and bravo.

  • Sarah

    2008/09/22 at 2:42 pm

    Damn good post!

  • Daddy Scratches

    2008/09/22 at 2:42 pm

    Jeez, and my wife keeps getting upset if I accidentally cuss in front of the kids. She is robbing us of all of this adorable juvenile profanity! Damn her to HELLL!

  • Megan

    2008/09/22 at 2:42 pm

    Holy crap, this post makes me laugh like the mother of a four year old that I am!

    Excellent (appropriate) use of a cuss word, Leta!

  • Anonymous

    2008/09/22 at 2:42 pm

    Fucking seventh!

  • robyn

    2008/09/22 at 2:43 pm

    Our parenting is very similar. Instead of ‘inside voices and outside voices’, we have ‘inside words and outside words’…..

  • Giovanna Diaries

    2008/09/22 at 2:43 pm

    I hate to admit it, but I love when kids talk like adults. It totally cracks me up. My kids aren’t as cool as Leta the most they say is “I have two words for you….shut and up.” Thanks Shrek!
    On the other hand, I do have a little Casanova. One of my little guys is drawn to girls like moth to a flame.
    We went walking around a lake by our house and there were 3 ladies walking their dogs and he rides his bike over to them and says “Hiiiiiiiii Girls!” And I swear, I could almost see a wink! He’ll be 5 next month!

  • Erika

    2008/09/22 at 2:43 pm

    Reminds me of the day a preschooler told me he could see my coochie. (which he could not because I was wearing pants and underwear) or the many times my son has decided to make himself throw up in public. Some people’s kids. =)

  • Nathan Pralle

    2008/09/22 at 2:43 pm

    HA! I love it. If words are the writers sword, no doubt Leta will be a silent ninja in the night with a brace of small, sharp objects at the ready to thunk into someone’s unsuspecting, quivering body. Well done.

  • Heather

    2008/09/22 at 2:44 pm

    Hard to believe its the same kid. At least she remembered where it was appropriate to use those kinds of words 🙂

  • reavolution

    2008/09/22 at 2:44 pm

    That was pure awesome! Nothing worked better on me than my mother putting the fear of G-o-d into my heart…and then finding out my dad didn’t mind when I used those words anywhere. Oh, divorced parents provided so much good leverage as a child.

  • Anonymous

    2008/09/22 at 2:44 pm

    My two favorites that my 7 year old niece uttered around the age of 3. Calling her grandfather an “idiot shit” in the car for bad driving AND in response to her mother calling her smarty pants, “Well you’re a bastard pants.”

  • Marissa

    2008/09/22 at 2:44 pm

    I love it!

  • Jaimie

    2008/09/22 at 2:44 pm

    I just wanted to leave a comment (the comments are usually closed by the time I read your posts) saying that I LOVE reading your blog!! I adore your snark 🙂

    You are a superb writer…and seem to have the BEST source of material to write about!!

    Leta’s frickin hilarious!! (well, so are you 😉 )

    Jaimie (just a lurker)

  • Becca

    2008/09/22 at 2:44 pm

    Love it.. too funny!

  • Tonya Cinnamon

    2008/09/22 at 2:45 pm

    chuckling…. gotta love the kidlets…:D

  • Emily

    2008/09/22 at 2:45 pm

    I think Leta’s just doing her part to balance out Utah a little bit and hell, I think that’s damned awesome.

  • JP

    2008/09/22 at 2:46 pm

    Damn, that’s one hell of a kid you got there. 🙂


  • Me

    2008/09/22 at 2:46 pm

    It only gets better from here. I’d told my friend to curb his language before his child was born. He didn’t listen. As an avid sports gambler, he watches a lot of football with his daughter on multiple TVs in the living room. One particular SUNDAY when the church group is over for a get-together, the TVs have all the games on and my friend is rooting for the visiting team. His daughter, 3 1/2 at the time, hearing the home crowd cheer lets the F word fly while sitting in the preacher’s lap. When the entire room turns to look at her, she said ‘Oops.’ then looks at the preacher and starts to cry that she doesn’t want to go to hell!!!

  • Ariel

    2008/09/22 at 2:47 pm

    I loved it when my 1 year old said ‘fuck’.
    Everyone thought she was saying Truck but I knew the truth 🙂

  • Calee

    2008/09/22 at 2:48 pm

    Just yesterday my husband told me I need to cut down on shouting “shit” whenever I drop something. It’s only a matter of time before the toddler switches from saying a cute “uh oh” to “shit, balls, damn.”


  • calimom

    2008/09/22 at 2:50 pm

    Too funny! Reminds me of the time I had to slam on my brakes for some fool who cut me off. We pulled up next to him at a stop light just a few blocks later. My then 2 year old (now 19) pointed at him and yelled, very clearly, “That guy’s a son of a bitch, huh, mom?”

    Did I mention both my son’s window and the window of the other driver were down?


  • LaurenR

    2008/09/22 at 2:51 pm

    My son started to pitch a huge tantrum like that once on the way out of school. He threw himself down on the stairs and started to scream about whatever it was, and I raised my eyebrows at him and said “Really? You’re going to throw a big fit right here with all your friends watching you?” He stopped, looked at me like, “Damn, woman, you make an excellent point.” and that was that. I have no idea what I’d have done if he wasn’t afraid of public humiliation.

  • Dannie

    2008/09/22 at 2:51 pm

    I completely love you. If I was the kissing type, I would totally kiss you.


  • Kristen

    2008/09/22 at 2:52 pm

    Out of the mouth of babes, I swear!

    I explained to my six-year-old stepson why our dog Roscoe could no longer make puppies and informed him that balls was not the right term to use, that they were testicles and he turned to me and said, “Yeah testicles!!!”

    His brother on the other hand is the one that yells, “Out of my way shitass!” when someone is driving to slow in front of us…yeah he’s seven.

  • Elizabeth

    2008/09/22 at 2:53 pm

    That right there was a damn good family post.

  • Undomestic Diva

    2008/09/22 at 2:55 pm

    My 3 year old is well-versed in the F word, using it in perfect context every time, which you know, makes it illegal and unnecessary to reprimand him since he did use proper grammar and all.

  • kay

    2008/09/22 at 2:56 pm

    who in the hell taught that baby to cuss?!!!! dammit.

  • ORKMommy

    2008/09/22 at 2:56 pm

    Thank God I’m not the only one!

    We were laying in bed one morning (the man, the kid & me) and my stomach growled very loudly. I looked at the man and said “Go make me breakfast bitch” and the 5yr old said “Yea, go make breakfast bitch”. I laughed my ass off and explained that there are words for home and words for everywhere else.

    When I told friends about this, they didn’t find it as funny as I did. Who knew…

  • J. Bo

    2008/09/22 at 2:58 pm

    Aaaand… the torch is passed to the next generation.

  • jen

    2008/09/22 at 2:59 pm

    my neice said she hated elevators because they piss her out.

  • Athenae

    2008/09/22 at 2:59 pm

    Oh, man, this thread is gonna make me giggle uncontrollably all day, right?

    Bastard Pants just became my new insult.

    My father’s a pharmacist and his co-workers used to think it was HI-larious to teach me the names of the really serious narcotic and anti-psychotic drugs and then tell me to go ask my father for some of them. When I was three. I always did it, too. “Can I have some Haldol, Daddy?” It’s a wonder I wasn’t strangled in my crib.


  • ...loveMaegan

    2008/09/22 at 3:00 pm

    just like her mama.

    I would have thrown a tantrum over a fabulous zebra pillow too. Could you blame her?

  • Sarah

    2008/09/22 at 3:00 pm

    When we were in Kentucky visiting my (very Southern Baptist) grandparents, my 3 year old decided to park herself in the middle of their living room floor and stack blocks that my grandpa had made for her. When the tower collapsed, she hung her head and said, “Well, God DAMMIT.”
    I blamed Spongebob. (Like my grandparents are gonna know?)
    I approve of Leta’s upbringing. There is no more valuable skill than knowing how to curse appropriately!

  • E-Lo

    2008/09/22 at 3:02 pm

    Ahhh… that’s one punk rock toddler. Love it!

  • Canadian Reader

    2008/09/22 at 3:02 pm

    Still laughing. I would have loved to see the over the shoulder manouver!! Hilarious. Can you imagine being a witness to that scene!! Anonymous #15, your niece is awesome. You should introduce her to Leta. Working with kids (kindergarten teacher) …you wouldn’t believe what you hear–Hilarious. As a mother of older kids I love to witness the mortification of preschool parents. Too funny, and you just want to say…just wait and see what they do to you when they are teens! HA! Oh to go back in time and relive those moments. Love your blog.

  • The Husband

    2008/09/22 at 3:02 pm

    My favorite is when one of the kids lets loose with a properly used “Godfuckit!” Okay, I’m kidding. But it’s only a matter of time.

  • Ginny

    2008/09/22 at 3:03 pm

    I just love reading Dooce, and your family makes me crack up.

    I live in Houston, Texas and after Ike came through, we had power, water, but no internet. I was dying from my lack of daily Dooce. So glad both of you are back!

  • SuZ

    2008/09/22 at 3:04 pm

    Oh. My. GOD!!! I love it!!!

  • the mighty jimbo

    2008/09/22 at 3:05 pm

    @#$%, if she isn’t your kid after all.


  • tj

    2008/09/22 at 3:05 pm

    …lol…Priceless. I so needed this today, thank you Heather! lol…

    …Blessings… :o)

  • Katie

    2008/09/22 at 3:06 pm

    This just made my day!

  • Kiki D.

    2008/09/22 at 3:07 pm

    That was the cutest thing I’ve read all day.

  • Scott

    2008/09/22 at 3:11 pm

    I would’ve got my ass whupped something awful for that kind of public tantrum.

    Also, I have a very clear memory of swinging on stair post as a wee tot happily singing, “Shit, shit, shit” while my mother tells me to stop.

  • Diane in NC

    2008/09/22 at 3:12 pm

    Too funny! You should post a couple of Leta anecdotes every Monday to take away the pain of it being Monday. Thanks for the laughs. 🙂

  • niz

    2008/09/22 at 3:12 pm

    Wow, can’t wait to see the responses to this post on Hate Mail day. You are a brave woman.

    When I was about 2 my best friend couldn’t pronounce my name (Sophie), and somehow the nearest approximation he could manage was “Fucky.”

    I’m sure our mothers would have discouraged this had they been able to stop laughing long enough to address it.

  • Maddnessofme

    2008/09/22 at 3:14 pm

    That is what I’m going to do if you don’t pick the name FARLEY for that dog!

    The hell! The hell!

1 2 3 9

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.

read more