An unfiltered fire hose of flaming condemnation

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.

  • kwallca

    I have twin eleven year old daughters. My new name is YouresomeanIhateyou. I will answer only to that.
    The more they hate you, the better job you’re doing. At least that’s what I tell myself when I’m lying in bed, curled up in the fetal position.

  • playrawkstar

    sounds like someone is ready for her introduction to the smiths – morrissey can teach her all about misery!

  • InfamousQBert

    if you don’t give into the urge to invoke africa, you’ll be truly failing in your parental duties. think of leta, 20 years from now, with her own kid. she’ll have the urge to use something totally overblown as a reason her own kids should be grateful for socks. but where will she be? she’ll have no recollection of having been given the same threats, and the great cycle of first-world parenting will be broken. and it will ALL. BE. YOUR. FAULT.

  • KT

    It’s not just Leta. Ava is 5 and used to be so much fun to be around. We used to get compliments on how well she behaved.
    Until last week when we served her a breakfast that she didn’t like. She threw the plate across the table and used all of her body weight- all 35 pounds- to stomp her way to her room.
    Trying desperately to re-cage that kind of attitude.

  • Lunaticinthehouse

    I think our girls were separated at birth– only ten years apart. Not only do I get to enjoy the everlasting DRAMA only a 15 year old girl can muster, but she still takes off her pants the second she walks in the door, will only eat foods that are white and even then, only if different foods aren’t touching.

  • wendyf

    Boy, did I laugh when I read this..and not AT you but WITH you. My 4-year-old daughter is exactly like this: Supreme Emrpess of Drama-Land. It took me a while to realize that her version of a temper tantrum is giant crocodile tears and crying so hard that she hyperventilates and coughs to the point of vomiting. My husband still doesn’t quite get it.

  • deepthoughts78

    No judgment here. Life kind of sucks sometimes, and I think that if kids grow up knowing that they don’t always get their way, they will be happier for it in the long run. Now I don’t mean we should with hold anything from our kids, I am just saying we shouldn’t sugarcoat the crummy stuff like the fact that we all have to get up and go to work/school. It is life.

  • kellys

    Love #20’s response and couldn’t agree more: “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.” HA!

  • kristenf7

    My SON tells me frequently “you are making me DIE”

  • jda127

    Yet another “amen” from the parent of a five-year-old girl. Not only the a.m. struggle to get dressed and ready for school in a reasonable manner, but also the “oh no you won’t, because then I’ll do THIS to you, mean, mean Mommy” business. I get that daily.

    Why are you so mean, Mommy?
    Because I am an ogre, dear child. Live with it 🙂

  • sallymegan

    Speaking as one of the childless, I’m sorry, but I just laughed SO FREAKING HARD at that post.
    Getting dressed tomorrow morning is going to be hard without excessive giggling.

  • Bratfink

    My mother would have knocked me across a room, even at 5 years old.

    And people call YOU a bad mom?

    You are a Model of Restraint. LOL!

  • leafgirl

    My 4 yr old and I have been having talks about how him saying I’m a bad mommy hurts my feelings and he can be upset with me but he doesn’t have to say hurtful things. So the next time he was crying under a blanket he stuck his head out and said “Mommy I love you so much, but I’m sorry you are a bad mommy” 🙂

  • Kona

    I’m listening to Harry Potter book 3 in the car right now, and it has allowed me to properly diagnose you: You are a DEMENTOR! You suck out all of the pleasant thoughts a person has EVER HAD, MOM.

  • Lorena13

    You are so going to have to take the NintendoDS away from her now! If you don’t, she will have even more power than she does now! 🙂

    I just can’t imagine why in the world people want girls instead of boys! Girls are E.V.I.L. And it doesn’t get any easier as they get older, either!

    Good Luck!

  • Monday

    Warning: Unsolicited Parental advice below.
    Stop giving a shit if she is “sad”.
    How’s that for being straight forward.

    She’s got you figured out that you care more about her “feelings” then needing to listen to you.

    I smell excess pot smoking in her future, because she wants to!

  • kristanhoffman


    You know how you know I’m not a parent? When I read that — “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” — I thought, Hey, that’s clever! At least you know she’s smart!

  • talleyklotz

    Fear is a legitimate form of communication.
    – Someone important said that and I totally use it ALL THE TIME.

  • The Prima Momma

    LOL! Oh Heather, thank you for this. We are at the “I am *not* your friend anymore!” stage. Which I would be totally okay with, except she only lets FRIENDS brush her damn teeth.
    God help me when puberty sets in.

  • connie

    You should be thankful you’re not Kate Gosselin. I’m pretty sure the entire world chewed her out for telling her children to behave. Imagine what they’d do to you for threatening to take Leta’s DS away.

  • rainonfire

    This goes along with my bf’s 7 year old who insists that “This is the WORST day EVER!” when we tell her no. Drama, drama, drama.

  • tracy

    thank you so very much for giving me a glimpse of what my life will be like in three & a half years.

  • Earthy Beginnings

    Guess I’m lucky I can still use the “oh you’re not coming??? ok but I’m leaving, bye!” which is quickly followed by my 3yr old’s “wait for meeeeeee!!!”… Ahhhhh but the joys of parenthood. Hang in there!

  • kariberi

    ya know you did what works for you and that is perfectly fine. Screw those who think it was bad on how you handled the situation. They are the same parents that have rotten kids that treat them and everyone else like crap and grow up thinking its all about them.

    By the way, Leta is really good at trying to make people feel bad. Lets hope her future husband wont put up with it like you dont!

  • reluctantcrafter

    I have 6 y/o g/g twins. So, to make you feel better, no, it’s not just you. And regretfully, it will probably get worse b/4 it gets better. Our best actress line is “this is the worse day EVER” (I also have no patience for this), to which my usual response is a story from my childhood followed by “you don’t know what a bad day is”. I’ll see you in line at the “Mom of the Year awards”…

  • carolfrog

    I know exactly how Leta feels. And I’m 32. But, somehow, the next day eventually comes, and I usually feel better. So that’s encouraging, right? . . . Right?

  • meanie

    Someone in our house had to wear pjs to school today. Yep I’m a mean mom who doesn’t want to hear the whining. As soon as she whines about clothing choices, it’s pjs all day. Today was the first trial of this parental technique. Curious to see what happens tomorrow AM..

  • Alexandra

    Heather don’t even joke about getting her period! I was a camp counselor for four years and had the pleasure of getting wee Brownies (it was a Girl Scout camp) and I had a camper that was six years old with a developmental disorder that meant she had the hormone levels of a thirteen year old and COULD GET HER PERIOD ANY DAY.


    She was the moodiest, brattiest child, but you couldn’t really fault her for it – she was like a teenager in a six year old’s body. Thank GOD she didn’t get her period, but I was so terrified that she would.

    She also had two mommies which didn’t make things easier for her, but her moms were both awesome and we had a great chat about her condition, but man was I scared she was going to get her period and all hell would break lose.

  • Little L

    “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.”

    I would – if I were you – wish I had this on tape so when, most likely this afternoon, she has forgotten and is enjoying herself you can play it back at her.

    I kinda dig how she stood her ground after you got in her face. Sounds like she did it quietly and with much guilt tripping. My kids would have never done such a thing. They do funny in other ways.

    (Yes, I find this exchange funny. Nothing worthy of judging, IMO)

  • vakadesign

    Holy crap, I hate it when that happens! You have one little moment of veering in the not perfect parenting direction, and the whole situation blows up and goes to hell.

    FYI? I totally brought up naked, starving African children this morning. I even described their distended starvation bellies. Oh yes, I went there.
    Katie: Parent Extraordinare.

  • sara-sundries

    I have a 5 year old girl. I totally hear you. And I’m so glad you are blogging about it because now I know I am not alone. (BTW,I would be SO dead so many times over by now, as well!)

  • Becca

    I am all about getting in my kid’s face when required. There is no shame in instilling fear. My dad had an eyebrow lift that was all he needed for control. He never hit us but we knew there would be deep shit if we didn’t obey THE EYEBROW.

  • chanachang

    wow. my four year old has very similar reactions to my stellar parenting methods. I am worried for the future.

  • Caitlinator

    I think I may need to use some of your parenting techniques on my mom.

  • Little L

    Those asking about the confiscating of the DS: read the story- Leta got out of bed and in between little sentences intended to throw Heather into intense guilt, slowly put her clothing on.

    Oh and Barbara? “First”??? What is this,

  • AmandaB

    Oh dude. SOOOOOOO happy to know my son isn’t the only one who talks to his mother that way. That whole convo coulda been me and him. And I can’t even blame his period for his melodramatics.

    So I blame Bush.

  • The imPerfect Housewife

    You make your child get dressed before school??? Where is mom jail because you need to be there! Why don’t you really show her and let her go in her underpants one day – I bet you won’t have that “getting dressed” issue anymore! HA HA I’ve got two teen daughters…need I say more??

  • Marriage Confessions

    I don’t know about the hate mail, but personally? You’re my parenting hero.

    Shut it, Leta. (Even though you are adorable and brilliant and I probably would never be able to say “Shut it” to your cute face in real life…)

  • rochelle

    Did you steal my child in the middle of the night? Because we have that discussion once a week – and mine is 9! The only exception is mine would like to no longer live because life is soooooo hard. I mean, the dressing and eating and going to school…… you know, UM YEAH, LIFE. Welcome to the pre-tweens. Really gets you excited for the next phase doesn’t it? YEE HAW. 🙂

  • PaigeWAydensMama

    My kid is only 16 months old and you were FAR more patient with Leta than I am on a GOOD well-rested day with him. Kudos.

  • DonnyPauling

    I love it! So dramatic!

  • Stretchmarks_notbitter

    Yeah, getting up at 4:30am is awesome, but 3:30am is better. I would know…because that is what time our 7 week old decided to wake up and NOT go back to sleep (our 2 year old fights us with bedtime until 11pm). And, if waking up that early was not bad enough, I was so tired I decided not to pay attention and apply handsoap to my toothbrush…yeah, that’s not toothpaste. I can’t wait to have 18 more children…that is, if I dont accidently apply something toxic to my toothbrush tomorrow morning.

  • DealWithIt


    My most recent favorite in my house is “(grumble grumble) Whatever Mom”. Totally sounds better wtih the 7yo tone and eye roll.

  • WanderingOne

    I can’t much because I was a lot like Leta when I was her age… As far as the hiding stuff goes. For the pouting, well, I would have forgotten all about it in ten minutes or less and bounded out the door to school. I’m gonna say it: Kids today. 😉

    I totally don’t disapprove of your parenting. Personally, I think that parenting has gone quite soft in recent years. Look, our parents were a little harsher with us, and we all turned out pretty well. We’re all relatively sane, functioning adults. A little tough love never hurt anyone, and it sure has helped a lot of people have the thick skin you need sometimes in this world. I shudder to think where all the uber sensitive parenting is going to lead these kids, frankly.

  • the niffer

    I know it wasn’t so funny at the time, but I find the drama absolutely hysterical.

  • amybjorge

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


    No, I’m sorry. I only judge people for not getting in their kids’ faces when it’s called for.

    It results in a generation of entitled, spoiled, self absorbed, undisciplined brats, IMHO.

    Ma and Pa Ingalls are rolling in their graves right now.

  • Jules K.

    I would have totally used the Africa line. Then I would have thrown in a little Darfur and factory farming for good measure.

    My son’s kindergarten has a “worm” policy, wherein kids who misbehave get these paper worms they have to pin to their name on the calendar. The parents receive a disciplinary notice the same day. Since starting kindergarten and learning about this system, my son gives me 3-4 worms a week. Apparently, I’m on the verge of being expelled from mom-school.

  • XOXO

    < judging >
    You’re gonna go down for that mess, Armstrong.

    * I * however, find that since you didn’t actually yell or growl or eat her, that you’re in the drawing for Saint of the Month.

    Good work, kiddo.

    < /judged >

  • EliBailey

    My daughter liked to say things like that too. I vividly remember her WAILING that she was “going to need therapy for this,” when I was getting onto her for swearing once. She was around 9 or 10 at the time.

    A little fear is good; kids need to know they can’t walk all over you. My mother was a very loving and affectionate parent, but she did NOT put up with back talk, and neither did I with my kids. I think you definitely did the right thing with Leta.

  • keelies

    I swear Leta and my daughter must have some kind of interstellar mind-swapping exchange thing going on because I hear the EXACT SAME THING most mornings when we have to get her off to preschool. Covers over the head, repetitions of “I’m sad forever”, and complete & utter disgrard. So, NO, you are not a bad parent and it’s a relief to know that apparently I’m not either. Timing and racing doesn’t often work for us either. By all means if you unlock the magic code to getting Leta dressed and ready faster, PLEASE post!!! My sanity cannot handle many more refusals to eat anything other than candy corn or slices of american cheese for breakfast!

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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