Heater, Mother of Lance

Wherein I’m just begging you to judge me

Leta and I enter her room after eating breakfast, and because I haven’t slept in several days I forget the structure that we’ve implemented in order to get her to focus her attention on tasks that need to be completed before school. Recently we’ve been making a game out of getting dressed, timing her with our iPhones to see how fast she can switch out of her pajamas and into her clothes. I KNOW. The fun here NEVER ENDS. If I send you an invitation to our tooth-brushing game, you better RSVP the shit out of it.

So I’ve forgotten about the game and just say, “Leta, let’s get dressed.” And because she gets so distracted in the morning I might as well have said, “Je m’appelle le croissant.”

She dives head first into bed, throws the covers over her head and plays dead. I’ve got little-to-no-patience at this point (insert reference to major project launch, ill-timed vasectomy, and baby who wakes up at 4:30AM since the time change) but I summon what I can and say, “Leta, I need your cooperation this morning. Get up and get dressed or I’m going to take away your Nintendo DS.” You know, A THREAT. That’s Quality Parenting 101.

And hoo, I don’t know if it’s just my five-year-old girl who is going through this phase, but she uncovers her head, slowly limps her way out of bed and mumbles, “No you’re not because I’m going to hide it and you won’t find it and then I’ll play it without you knowing.” Like Dennis the Menace, except it’s Dennis the EVIL.

Now, If I had said this to my father when I was growing up, I wouldn’t be alive today.

So I get right up into her face and say NO YOU DID NOT. You are not allowed to talk to me this way DON’T EVEN THINK ABOUT IT. Not to instill fear, necessarily, except, yes. To instill fear. A little bit of fear is good. Oh dear god, the mail I’m going to get about this one.

And that’s when it starts, what we call her Academy Award Winning Performance, and she starts saying things like, “Now I’m sad and I’m going to be sad forever. For the rest of my life, MOM.”

And I’m like, dude, you can be sad. You can choose to feel this way, but we’re getting dressed. Here put on this shirt.

“But you hurt my feelings and I’m never going to be happy again. Ever. For the rest of my life.”

And I’m all, I know what it feels like to have my feelings hurt, that must be hard what you’re going through, but now we’re putting on these pants.

“But now I’m going to have a bad day because I’m sad, and then I’m going to have many bad days forever.”

And there is that irresistible, generation-spanning urge to go, you know what you need? A trip to Humble Camp, a place called AFRICA. But I nip it, I shut off that valve, and I say, “I’m sorry you’re feeling sad, that must be hard, now put on these socks.” SOCKS THAT KIDS IN AFRICA DON’T HAVE.

And I’m not even kidding, she looks up at me and says, “You made me sad, and I don’t know how to go on with the rest of my life.”

A half hour later as she’s gathering up her backpack and lunchbox and headed toward the car, her head hanging down in a pout, I pull Jon aside and give him a heads up that Leta is going to start her period ANY DAY NOW.

  • Barbara E.

    2009/11/04 at 8:50 am

    “Je m’appelle le croissant.” Quelle coincidance! MY name is bagel!!

    I say you displayed phenomenal patience. What’s to judge? Oh, nevermind. Forgot where we were. Yeah, duck.

  • Barbara E.

    2009/11/04 at 8:50 am

    Shee-yit!! First AGAIN, yo!!

  • Meg

    2009/11/04 at 8:52 am

    I want a Nintendo DS! Now I’m sad. FOREVER.

  • Lisa in Seattle

    2009/11/04 at 8:52 am

    At least you’re prepared! And Leta is ready for Hollywood’s call at any time … tho of course you’d have to go with her to enable her descent into darkness. 🙂

  • Daddy Scratches

    2009/11/04 at 8:52 am

    Apparently, Leta and my son have been reading from the same “How to Be A Disgruntled Child” book.

    Often heard around my house: “Aye aye aye! You’re giving me a headache! This is the WORST DAY OF MY LIFE!” Yeah, the worst day in all of his six years.

    The Worst Daddy In The World.

  • tracy from Toronto

    2009/11/04 at 8:52 am

    First time commenting, long time reader! Am I first??!! Thank you for the Community, Heather!!!
    We are your loyal Doocebags, coming to your community with our Doocebaggage!

  • Licha

    2009/11/04 at 8:53 am

    Ugh. I’m all too familiar with this morning craziness!! This morning we had a 15 minute battle because I said something completely crazy like “put your coat on, it’s cold outside”. But I have too many kids to worry about arguing. I let her little smart ass shiver in the cold at the bus stop while her teeth chattered and cracked and fell out of her head. I bet she’ll remember her coat tomorrow!

  • JennKD

    2009/11/04 at 8:55 am

    Both of my girls are doing the same thing. The 7 year old and I got into an entire discussion over what “possession” entails. Because if Santa gave her the object, then I have no legal authority to take it away. What!?! And no, at that point I started talking about taking away her bed and making her sleep on the floor, because, by god, I bought the bed. Ugh.

  • bucky4eyes

    2009/11/04 at 8:57 am

    I predict that her PMS will last about, oh, nine years. In the meantime, I foresee a diary filled with tragic poetry. She and Chuck will probably like the same music.

  • Tracee

    2009/11/04 at 8:57 am

    I’m so glad I’m not the only parent who gets these pity party invitations! My Lilly is 7 1/2 and becomes so sad and gets her “feelings hurt”. I’ve been perplexed as how to deal with it. I don’t recall ever having been that dramatic as a child.???

  • Mommy that pinches

    2009/11/04 at 8:58 am

    Sounds familiar. My daughter often yells “HELP” when we’re in the grocery store together. It’s always nice to see other shoppers giving the “What kind of mother are you” look. I would give helpful parenting advice if I had any at all.

  • Jean

    2009/11/04 at 8:59 am

    Girls are something else. I have three kids and my middle child is a girl. She just turned 20 today and is home with the flu. She is calling me every five seconds. They certainly keep you on your toes. Boys are so much easier. LOL

  • rachsee

    2009/11/04 at 8:59 am

    my parents totally used the fear tactic, and it totally worked. although i definitely needed therapy later on, it got me dressed in the morning. and that’s the overall goal, right?

    but seriously, it’s fine. she’ll get over it. or will she?!?! dun dun DUUUNNN!

  • Jan

    2009/11/04 at 8:59 am

    Right on!
    And thanks for the community!

  • Mia Mei

    2009/11/04 at 9:05 am

    I want an invitation to the tooth brushing game! Is it BYOB?

  • Mrs.tyDoan

    2009/11/04 at 9:05 am

    I just wrote a novel of a comment about my 17 month old and the hell that she is going to give me for the rest of her existence because she’s so freaking independent…but then I realized I wasn’t logged in.

    So in short. I don’t see anything to judge here. I’d be far less composed.

  • vaptor

    2009/11/04 at 9:11 am

    Oh Heather….. I’m afraid it will get muuuuch worse before it gets better! I have 7 year old boy/girl twins, and I’m telling you – the drama that surrounds my girl is i n c r e d i b l e. But, the girl that can make you feel like your head will explode one minute, is also the girl who fills your heart with so much joy that you fear it too might explode – am I right?!
    Thanks for all that you do Heather – your writing is feakin’ awsome!

  • insanelyme

    2009/11/04 at 9:11 am

    Toothbrushing game??? What a great idea!!

    I feel your pain, the guilt trip is a daily occurance in my home. Just think … soon you’ll have it x2.

  • lisa boomerang

    2009/11/04 at 9:11 am

    The sadness and guilt is refreshing. My 7 year old would start by saying “you aren’t the boss of me” and it would degrade all the way down to her standing out in front of the school in her PJs. I’ll show you who’s the boss!

    Anyhow, love the site, thanks for the frank commentary.

  • tlkaply

    2009/11/04 at 9:12 am

    I, for one, think a little healthy fear is the difference between kids I don’t mind seeing in public places and children I feel the urge to dropkick.

  • Lifeissweet16

    2009/11/04 at 9:13 am

    I believe my daughter first informed me that I was ruining her life when she was about 5. I think I told her that was my mission. She hasn’t said it since, and she’s 15 now.

    I think you handled things very well. But you should have said the Africa stuff out loud.

  • fableq

    2009/11/04 at 9:14 am

    Seems to me you kept pretty level headed. Well considering. I was a 5 year old going on 14 too, I hate to break it to you, but if Leta IS like me, then you’ve got years of insanity up ahead! But who knows, perhaps she’s not QUITE so dramatic as I was! Here’s hoping 🙂

  • Mari

    2009/11/04 at 9:14 am

    My second child can pout for DAYS. Drives me crazy. Ends quicker if I ignore it.

  • Tiggerlane

    2009/11/04 at 9:17 am

    Wow…the teenage years are already upon you!! But wait – appreciate the pouting now. Because later, you’re going to make her life so miserable that she will SCREAM and SLAM THINGS and call you HORRIBLE NAMES…and somehow, you’ll still be the one feeling sad and guilty.

    Oh, and it happens all month long – just accompanied by crying jags when she is OTR.

  • megnstuff

    2009/11/04 at 9:18 am

    No judgment here. My parents “played games” with me, bribed me and threatened me and I plan on doing the same thing to my boys!

  • renee

    2009/11/04 at 9:19 am

    My daughter doesn’t get me with words. She can turn on the water works ON DEMAND and those break my heart.

  • lizzieindublin

    2009/11/04 at 9:19 am

    Hahahahahahaha. Sorry. Wow, I don’t like ANY kids right now. Especially not my own.

  • Ariel

    2009/11/04 at 9:20 am

    I made my daughter Emma SO SAD this morning too. SO SO SAD.
    Leta and my daughter should play together. It would be super fun to see which one is more dramatic. And we could totally drink and laugh while we watched.

  • Tricia

    2009/11/04 at 9:20 am

    Instilling fear is important. My parents did it, and I’m working on it with my three year old. It’s not only useful for getting dressed and out the door in a timely manner; it’s critical for kids to listen and obey their parents’ voices immediately– “stop right there!” can keep a kid from getting hit by a car or something similarly horrible. If you fail to use these small moments to teach your child what is and isn’t acceptable, then you can’t be sure that they’ll listen to you when it REALLY MATTERS.

    My dad explained this to me when I was about 7 or 8… it helped me to realize that his job was to keep me safe, and my job was to LISTEN, whether I understood why or not.

    My point is, I think you’re on the right track with Leta. She needs to know that what you and Jon say goes, whether it hurts her feelings or not.

  • Momma

    2009/11/04 at 9:21 am

    I remember those days. My oldest daughter used to respond to me telling her no by dramatically dragging her feet precisely 3 paces before flinging herself to the floor sobbing. I should have video taped those for blackmail now that she’s 16.

  • TexasKatie

    2009/11/04 at 9:22 am

    The part about instilling fear made me laugh out loud. Because I find myself instilling fear on a somewhat daily basis.

  • CrazyApple

    2009/11/04 at 9:23 am

    Girls. Girls are moody and dramatic, Forever and always. I feel your pain.

  • Momma

    2009/11/04 at 9:24 am

    And a little fear… always a good thing. It goes a long way toward making them behave the way they should.

  • Anndruh

    2009/11/04 at 9:28 am

    Tomorrow at my 20 week anatomy scan my hubs and I find out the sex of our first baby. Every one of my other cousins has had boys (9 and counting), so my whole side of the family is like PLEASE BE MAKING GIRL PARTS IN THERE!

    And I’m like, gggggeeeeehhhhhh…..

    Ps my favorite French phrase to throw out there is “Je suis un ananas.” That’s right, “I am a pineapple.”

  • hapamama

    2009/11/04 at 9:29 am

    This is a narrative of every morning in my house. My five year old told me this morning, “Mom, you are not so nice before school.”

    I was like, “Oh yeah? Well, you are not so nice before your daily allowance of high fructose corn syrup.” *sigh*

    I’m hoping it gets easier?…. maybe not.

  • meanestmomintheworld

    2009/11/04 at 9:29 am

    Sounds familiar… my four year old daughter is incredibly dramatic. About three months ago during a bedtime routine that could be compared in length to an eon or era I finally told her I was leaving, kiss kiss, good night. She threw her arm over her eyes and screeched “You’re ruining my life! And my family!” My response? Thank God I got that mom job out of the way for you…at age 4. Now when she’s 15 and wants to stay out past midnight with a senior who has his own band and I say no I will be immune to the “you’re-ruining-my-life” schtick…’cause I already took care of it yearrrrs ago!

  • Wildlifes Words

    2009/11/04 at 9:31 am

    This is hilarious! I am SO not ready to be a parent, but I am taking a lot of notes!

  • ravengrace

    2009/11/04 at 9:32 am

    A healthy dose of fear is GOOD for any child. I always tell my BFF (she has twins 1 boy 1 girl) I want a girl next and she then looks at me like I’ve lost my mind and just giggles…I guess this is why!

  • sarahdoow

    2009/11/04 at 9:34 am

    Never mind the parenting side of things, I want to applaud Leta for that true piece of menace regarding hiding the Nintendo. That was a masterstroke and one I’d plan to use, were it not for the fact that I’m an adult now and people tend not to confiscate my stuff when I refuse to get up. I guess being self-employed is my masterstroke in that regard, because I can’t get fired for being late.

  • sarahmichelef

    2009/11/04 at 9:37 am

    Somebody really smart told me that five is like a preview of the teen years, and hoo boy were they right.

    Might have to take the “timing her getting dressed” idea, though.

  • littlebitsocracker

    2009/11/04 at 9:38 am

    Why that sounds like typical 6 year old behavior. Get ready because…ugh…six sucks.

  • Mom2Gizmo

    2009/11/04 at 9:38 am

    I hope you know how much I like you because I don’t join communities for just anyone…
    That said, you have AMAZING patience. My 6 year old has mumbled that stuff, too, and I agree…If I had spoken to my dad like that…WOOHOO…well, I wouldn’t have walked for a week…or ever…
    You never told us…DID you take the DS?

  • mrswilson

    2009/11/04 at 9:38 am

    Dude. I’m TOTALLY with you. I think you pulled it off right 🙂 I also have a child with similar GOING TO HIDE THE DS SO YOU CAN’T TAKE IT AWAY and YOU MADE ME SAD, MOM, WHY DID YOU MAKE ME SAD? tendencies.

    You’re an amazing mom.

  • Phatchik

    2009/11/04 at 9:40 am

    I think it’s sad that all the judgement thrust upon you has forced you to add disclaimers. You’re real a mother talking about real interactions with your [very dramatic] daughter. THAT is precisely why I love to read this blog. It’s REAL! Good luck with those teenage years, though! *wink

  • dreag21

    2009/11/04 at 9:40 am

    Leta is an evil genius! Threatening to hide her DS. Man, I better hope my 7-year-old doesn’t read this, she’ll def pick up some ideas.

    Aside from that, I say instill the fear, INSTILL THE FEAR! I’m all for it. These children are cut-throat, you gotta take whatever measures you can now before you’re old and they’re picking your retirement home!

  • kristin k

    2009/11/04 at 9:44 am

    um. She is scary smart. I’m thinking of trying this tactic if ever the repo man comes to take my car. “Oh no you’re NOT, because I’m going to hide it and drive it WHEN YOU DON’T EVEN KNOW!” She should write a “how-to” book.

  • betsyashbrook

    2009/11/04 at 9:44 am

    Hahaha, awesome. I can hear Leta saying that.

    Your haircut looks phenomenal and best. masthead. ever.

  • OldGrayMare

    2009/11/04 at 9:47 am

    You know, I’m dreading Leta’s teenage years on YOUR behalf…but looking forward to them on mine, since they ought to make for some pretty funny blog posts.

    My five year-old’s favorite phrase when it is time to get dressed in the morning is “I can’t! I need help!” He has such anxiety about it that I have to literally displace my emotions into a giant impenetrable safe locked in cotton just to get through the process of dressing him without killing him. Its cuh-razy making.

  • JackifromDE

    2009/11/04 at 9:47 am

    “instilling fear” is the new “accountability”..and there is far too little of it… love & respect is a lesson that needs to be taught from day one, and the benefits last a lifetime…I required it of my 2 girls..they are now 19 & 20 & the most remarkable, loving young women, and a joy to be around. Make it so Moms…you deserve it!!

  • www.motherlawyercrazywoman.blogspot.com

    2009/11/04 at 9:48 am

    No judging here. I am certain my six-year-old (boy) is about to start his period sometime soon too. Judging by this behavior.

    My favorite line in this: SOCKS THAT KIDS IN AFRICA DO NOT HAVE. I used a variation on that theme last night (but less creative): SOME KIDS DO NOT HAVE PIZZA. NOW EAT YOURS AND BE APPRECIATIVE.

    Fear can be our friend. But I am sorry to hear that Leta is now forever doomed to a lifetime of bad days. That IS sad.

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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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