Heater, Mother of Lance

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.”

  • Jennsa

    2008/09/22 at 3:51 pm

    Oh my god.

    In 5 years time this will SO be my child. And I will be satisfied so long as the swear has been used appropriately and in context. LOL.

  • Catie

    2008/09/22 at 3:52 pm

    When my son was 4 yrs old I heard him yell from the other room, with all the all the right inflection “Where’s the FUCKIN screw driver?!”

  • dani

    2008/09/22 at 3:53 pm

    Holy wow! That is hilarious!

  • Jen

    2008/09/22 at 3:53 pm

    Heh… and here I thought I was a nice mom since I let my kids use the “d” word whenever we go by a dam.

    You are nicer. You win. You rock!

  • Katie

    2008/09/22 at 3:56 pm

    So were you getting onto her for the profanity or the grammar? C’mon now, she IS only four… she’ll get it right soon enough!

  • Desiree

    2008/09/22 at 3:58 pm

    My fiance and I like to coax our niece into saying certain words she can’t quite pronounce yet – like movies = boobies. She also has taken up calling her Dad a “jackass”.

    I approve of your parenting skills!

    The great debate amongst my parents is my first word. Mom says it was “Dada”, Dad says it was “Shit”.

  • #99

    2008/09/22 at 3:58 pm

    Well, damn and no wonder poor Chuck’s going gray!

  • Ms. Moon

    2008/09/22 at 3:59 pm

    Yep. And that’s why we don’t eat them.

  • kim at allconsuming

    2008/09/22 at 4:00 pm

    the whippet quick lean in using the low voice and steely eye-contact? it’s the key to parenting nirvana.


  • Catootes

    2008/09/22 at 4:01 pm

    My kids need to read this as they charge me 25 cents for every curse that tumbles over my lips. I believe they’ll be rich by the time they hit 20.

    Parenting is not for wimps.

  • Taylee

    2008/09/22 at 4:02 pm


    I just wanted a chance to say it. HA!


  • crzylady

    2008/09/22 at 4:03 pm

    My daughter (almost 3) also curses inside the home.. except sometimes also at Nana’s and Nana’s not a big fan. so my dauther yelling frustratedly about Nana’s DVD player not opening, “It’s NOT BUCKING workinggggg!” didn’t go over so well with anyone except me, who was so proud she used the word correctly I gave her ice cream when we got home.

  • Stass

    2008/09/22 at 4:03 pm

    I think Oh my God the Hell is a good name for a dog. lol

  • Anonymous

    2008/09/22 at 4:03 pm

    Just so you know when she hollas out


    she means it fondly 🙂

  • yukkyflugirl

    2008/09/22 at 4:06 pm

    I have had the worst day today, and you just made me laugh… so thanks!

    I was a toddler in Australia, and I used to get muddled and greet people by “D’gay”
    … not rude but pretty cute 🙂

  • shonda

    2008/09/22 at 4:07 pm

    I fucking love that you told her not to say those words…..outside of the house. Seriously, I think you should write a “How To” parenting book. I totally subscribe to your method.

  • Tachae

    2008/09/22 at 4:09 pm

    Love it when kids test the boundaries… either makes you want to leave them there forever or grab them in embarrassment and leave asap.

    I honestly think you guys are 2 of the best parents Ive read about.

  • Talon

    2008/09/22 at 4:10 pm

    *sighs happily*

    It makes me fondly remember my late grandfather. We used to live with my grandparents around the time I was two. And they had a HUGE garden. HUGE. Apparently I used to run around it like a budding track star.

    So one day a friend of Poppi’s came over, and Poppi took him out to the garden for some reason. And for some reason two year old me wasn’t allowed to come along like I usually was.

    *leans back and chews on a straw* Story goes that I stood stock in the middle of the kitchen after being told no, then ran to the window that faced the garden and yelled “BULLSHIT POPPI BULLSHIT!!!”

    The story also goes that my grandmother in the next room was laughing too hard and trying to hide it from me to properly discipline me.

    And that is the story behind my grandfather’s coffee mug that said “Sounds like BULLSHIT to me!!”



  • APeetsMom

    2008/09/22 at 4:13 pm

    Oh My God the Heeeeeellllll – that was so funny!

  • Lisa

    2008/09/22 at 4:14 pm

    That is TOO funny! I’m a long time reader and I’m delurking now that I have a blog of my own. I love your writing and I always look forward to reading your entries 🙂


  • Jess

    2008/09/22 at 4:21 pm

    Reminds me of my friend’s two year old.
    She tripped and fell over a toy one day and said
    “oh shit!”

    funniest thing ever.

  • Sarah

    2008/09/22 at 4:25 pm

    That was hysterical. 😀

  • sad mom

    2008/09/22 at 4:29 pm

    Wow. I have been reading your posts for years and find them truly funny and refreshing. But at some point, you’re going to have to look down the road and decide how you can best help Leta to grow into her potential. Setting the example of swearing is certainly one way, but perhaps not the most effective if you want her to be able to verbalize frustration or anger in a way that will actually help her get her needs met.

    I know this comment comes off as being a wet blanket to the general hilarity of children swearing (they all do at some point), but it’s not very attractive for an older child to have swear words on the tip of her tongue. In fact, most schools frown on it.

    Good luck.

  • Becky..The Absent Minded Housewife

    2008/09/22 at 4:30 pm

    My oldest son once screeched out “FUCK!” in front of his very proper, and wonderful, and very mormon grandmother around that age. It’s a forever family moment for sure.

    Now that he’s 14 he thinks that a sarcastic, “Dayummmm” is the wittiest thing to say on every occasion. I tell him if that’s all he’s got as commentary that he might as well stay quiet.

  • Auburn

    2008/09/22 at 4:30 pm

    Excellent post. You’re the Doctor Spock of this generation of moms.

  • Mom of a Cusser

    2008/09/22 at 4:31 pm

    So glad I’m not alone…. at two, during a Birthday party at which she received a set of fake ice cream cones which someone accidentally sat on, my little princess screamed “Get off my F*%$ing Ice cream!!”

  • Kristina C.

    2008/09/22 at 4:32 pm

    Aren’t kids fun?! You should have another – you’ll make us laugh twice as much!!


  • Kristan

    2008/09/22 at 4:36 pm

    Well I’ll be damned!

  • Tami A.

    2008/09/22 at 4:36 pm

    My 2 year old says Fuck. Hasn’t said it in front of my very Mormon family yet, but I know it’s coming.
    Great post today.

  • Amy

    2008/09/22 at 4:38 pm

    I love how well you parent. I would have laughed. Well, maybe I would have done the same thing you did, but later I would have laughed.

  • Karryn

    2008/09/22 at 4:42 pm

    We were out cruising on our sailboat for five years, so my husband decided to be the one to teach our two children profanity (his excuse was that there were not enough kids around to teach them instead). They followed the same rules and swearing was usually appropriate — until they started watching Kevin Smith movies. My just-turned-13 daughter swears like a sailor at home, but in school behaves herself well enough to get awards for “exemplary citizenship.” Sometimes I wonder if we’ve gone down that slippery slope too far… and then I read this and know we’re doing just fine!

  • Clark

    2008/09/22 at 4:43 pm

    I don’t care who you are, that’s funny.

  • Mental P Mama

    2008/09/22 at 4:44 pm

    That child is brilliant. I’d go right ahead and give her an English Degree if I could.

  • Jodie H

    2008/09/22 at 4:48 pm

    Honestly, what WOULD we do to entertain ourselves without children…….Um, wait, I can think of a few things…..

    Great post! Do you give funny lessons?

  • Deanna

    2008/09/22 at 4:50 pm

    I am NOT one of those “you are a bad parent” readers, i actually find it offensively ridiculous when you report back on some of the emails you get.

    That being said: the stories of Leta acting out like this are remarkably consistent: her ‘difficult’ behaviour seems to be similar across circumstances. Have you looked into learning some cognitive behavioural techniques to use with her? (I used to work at a parent/child center that focused on kids with behavioural issues, a LOT of them had behavioural patterns similar to Leta and the techniques worked really well. Essentially, it’s about her understanding her own choices. Will screaming in the store make her life better or worse? If she understands that she can make her own choice not make her life worse, and in fact how to make it better – ie consistent good behaviour is rewarded, rather than bad behaviour being punished – then she will eventually learn to make those choices.) Your own life would probably be a lot more peaceful if you didn’t have to deal with the tantrums all the time.

    And yes, this is way longer than i planned.

  • ML

    2008/09/22 at 4:53 pm

    My mother – when I brought home my fiancee to stay with the family – asked him to apologize when he used the “f-word” in front of her.

    He had said fart.

    We take alot of glory in teaching our kids to say fart and can’t wait until the real deal gets “accidently used” in front of Grandma…

  • Jayme

    2008/09/22 at 4:53 pm

    I SO needed that today! I love it when tiny kids use expletives in the correct context. Like when my four year said, upon finding out that grandma would not be visiting that day… “This is BULLSHIT!”. My husband and I just about died laughing (trying to hide our amusement of course).

  • Becca D.H.

    2008/09/22 at 4:59 pm

    You are precisely the type of mom I want to be when I grow up (I’m 25). Bravo.

  • Andrea's Sweet Life

    2008/09/22 at 5:01 pm

    My niece was driving in the car with her Papa, and he commented on the long train running parallel to them.

    “Yup,” she replied, “That is one long ass train.”

  • Brittanny

    2008/09/22 at 5:03 pm

    This was a great post. It made my Monday.

  • sparksflymom

    2008/09/22 at 5:04 pm

    I rarely laugh out loud. I often complain that there just isn’t enough out there to make me giggle. Now you’ve done it. I have laughed my ass off and am totally choked up thinking of this sort of thing with my kids–ALL AT THE SAME TIME!

    I love how you make me see the messy things in life.

    Thank you. So. Much.

  • sparksflymom

    2008/09/22 at 5:06 pm

    p.s.I have never commented on a stranger’s blog before. I have read your blog since you were dooced. Today I broke the seal. Big day for a Tennessee flymom.

  • Speedglenn

    2008/09/22 at 5:07 pm

    Oh sweet fancy Moses, that is the funniest thing ever. I fear that I will be reliving a moment quite similar to that in the not too distant future.

    It will also please you to know that my son, son of a yankee (me) and son of a southerner (Bif, my husband) says the phrase “Get down” how I imagine you might say it. It sounds something like “Git DAY-un!”

    Imagine him saying “Fucker” with a southern accent.

  • Julie

    2008/09/22 at 5:07 pm

    When my son was about four he wasn’t feeling well. We took his temperature and after the thermometer beeped he asked what it said. When I told him it was 102 he said “Awww…Dammit” with what sounded like a British accent. At the age of four I don’t think he even knew that 102 wasn’t a good thing! We still laugh about it today and every time I take his temp I tell him about it again!

  • Anonymous

    2008/09/22 at 5:16 pm

    I just LOVE Leta, when I was three (keep in mind this was in 1962) I leaned back in my chair at my grandmother and grandfathers dinner table and said “gramma, that was a damn fine meal” in a house where profanity was Not allowed, EVER. my mom was mortified, of course my dad loved it and I think was proud of me..
    maybe not so much the time we went to friends for Spagetti and I looked at my plate and said “Jesus Christ she didn’t cut it up for me” I don’t know that we ate there ever again..
    Leta and I would have been friends when i was three…

  • keagansmom

    2008/09/22 at 5:17 pm

    When my 3 year old son (who attends a christian preschool), started saying “JESUS!!!” very loudly whenever he was frustrated, I thought I was gonna die laughing.

    I wonder how many comments you will get telling you you’re a “bad, bad, mommy” for letting Leta say those words…Heather, you’re going to HELL for this (I’ll save ya a seat!)

  • Mothering Two

    2008/09/22 at 5:20 pm

    Bwahahahaaha! Your daughter sounds a lot like my almost 4 y/o son, Max. We also have a relaxed tude’ about curse words, but have rules about when to use them. I read this entry to my hubby while he was cooking dinner, he got a good laugh, too. 🙂

  • Avery Jones

    2008/09/22 at 5:25 pm

    Great story. It’s like the time I had my 3 year old nephew in the backseat of the car. While I was driving a car suddenly pulled out in front me.

    Before I could say anything a little voice in the backseat said “Jesus!”

  • Madness

    2008/09/22 at 5:27 pm

    Madness YELLS at her kids all.the.time. For reals. Madness doesnt know how to speak in a calm tone.
    But anyway .. one day Madness was dropping one of the kids friends off at their house and was sitting in the drivers seat talking to the kids mom .. the passenger side door of the minivan was open and kids were in and out in and out blah blah .. next thing Madnss knew .. she saw her baby daughter dart across the street through the rear view. Madness darted out of the minivan and SCREAMED VERY LOUDLY “YOU HAVE LOST YOUR MIND CHILD!!!” and proceeded to run to said child and grab her up and fling her over her shoulder, plant her squarely back in her seat in the van and then drive straight home at a very high rate of speed .. not uttering another single solitary word. Madness baby Daughter was so shaken by Madness’ reaction.. she went in the house and went straight to bed and when Madness went in the room to talk to her and explain that she made Momma VERY scared when she saw her run across the street and thats why Momma yelled the way she did, all baby daughter could do was quiver her lip and cry.
    I know EXACTLY the reaction Leta gave you and I was just that exactly satisfied with it.. if I scared the shit out of her .. GOOD. Rather have a scared shitless baby than a splattered across the road baby!

  • under sundog

    2008/09/22 at 5:33 pm

    I personally prefer the shame-them-out-of-it method for grooming children. When my brother was 7 he had a Grade-A choice meltdown in Disneyland. In August. The tipping point was when my parents opted not to buy him an Aladdin-style plastic saber.

    Now, a mere five years later, whenever he gets uppity about anything we simply employ our most tearful voices and remind him, “Boo Hoo … I just want a sword! Boo Hoo Boo Hoo.”

    We expect him to be sapped of all self esteem before his teen years.

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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