the smell of my desperation has become a stench

Her name

There’s a game I like to play with Marlo… wait… rephrase: there is a game I am FORCED to play with Marlo now that she willfully ignores people for the thrill of it. Oh, really? Did you say something to her? Yes, she heard you, but she’s not going to acknowledge you. Why? Why should she? Why would she when doing this totally pulls your strings? When doing this aggravates the shit out of you? It’s like she got to make a planet and is watching people scramble after setting a forest on fire. And she’s just sitting there eating popcorn.

Raising my voice does nothing to repair the situation. Threatening to throw away toys is useless. When I lock her in a cage she just ends up throwing her feces.

The only thing that works is to refer to her by a name other than her own. Once when I was totally fed up with being ignored, I turned to walk away and said, “Whatever, Marna Lou.” It enraged her.

“I AM NOT MARNA LOU!” she shouted after me.

“Last I checked it said MARNA LOU on your birth certificate. Deal,” I said in return.


“Oh really? Your name is Marlo?”

“Yesth! Yesth it isth!”

“Okay, Marlo, remember how I asked you to put your cup in the sink? Get to it.”

She was so distracted by her outrage that she forgot that she was ignoring me. Kid walked over, picked up her cup and carried it right to the sink just like I had asked her to do. Jesus, you guys. Whoever invented parenting is the same type of fucker who would hand you a whisk and a stapler and demand, “Make fire.”

We’ve gone through this routine so many times now that her outrage has transformed into playfulness. She now finds the whole thing pretty funny. But the same amazing thing happens: distraction. Sometimes we’ll just play the game for the hell of it, like the other night before bed when I was trying to get her to say her whole name: Marlo Iris Armstrong.

Sadly, Marlo is not named after Marlo Stanfield from “The Wire.” Her name was decided before I ever saw an episode, but her outrage when I called her something other than Marlo? She should be. (That link is super NSFW. Just got chills watching it like I did the first time, shiiiiiiiiiiiiit.)

  • Suebob

    2013/01/22 at 5:17 pm

    When she gets older, you can send her to this Tumblr:

  • Kate

    2013/01/22 at 4:19 pm

    You are BRILLIANT. Nothing annoys the hell out of Luke more than me saying anything except his name correctly. This afternoon it was, “I AM NOT MR. STRIPEY!!!!” I am so using this to my advantage.

    But oh the whispered, “I love you…” I am dying

  • Kate

    2013/01/22 at 4:40 pm

    That kid is pure ham. Ham and cheese. Imma eat her up.

  • Michelle Barraclough

    2013/01/22 at 5:57 pm

    Gorgeous! And your Marlo is definitely more “That Girl” than the Stanfield variety!

    Our lil Francesca, whom we call Cheska, refers to herself as ‘Chester’ – cute name for a two year old girl in pigtails don’t you think?

  • Daddy Scratches

    2013/01/22 at 6:15 pm

    “The Wire” = Best Show Ever
    Your kid = Extremely Cute.

  • Kimi

    2013/01/22 at 7:25 pm

    I am going to marry Marlo!

  • veri maz

    2013/01/22 at 7:39 pm

    at times out of frustration we call the 2.5yo a muppet. When discussing animals the other day she asked what Elmo was, we say oh he’s a muppet. NO HE ISNT! she cries, he’s not a muppet. As though we’d just insulted Elmo dreadfully…

  • Heather Favro Binuya

    2013/01/22 at 7:56 pm

    My daughter used to do the same thing – “My name is Ariana Binuya Lynn!” Okay, kid. Okay.

  • Tosha

    2013/01/22 at 8:34 pm

    Ohhh boy. My 3-yr old son = Marlo. Right down to the chipped front tooth. His brother is 5 1/2, and I somehow forgot (or the trauma blocked it from my brain) how interesting that third year is. He would bring the Raisinets to share while they watched the forest burn.

  • Sharon Potter Steponick

    2013/01/22 at 10:07 pm

    The only thing cuter than her photos is Marlo in action! Too stinking sweet.-

  • Hera

    2013/01/23 at 12:40 am

    Perhaps I’m alone in this, but to me it seems unnecessarily cruel to call a child by a name they don’t like. Parents who call their kid by the wrong name to antagonise them might want to think about why they enjoy upsetting their child.

  • Meggon

    2013/01/23 at 3:04 am

    Every now and then my girls morph into their Scooby Doo characters, Daphne and Freddy… The really great part is that they decided I get to be Velma…

  • Meggon

    2013/01/23 at 3:05 am

    Hopefully you never reproduce…

  • Michele

    2013/01/23 at 6:43 am

    Too cute.

    I’m in my 30s and my mother still calls me by my ‘other’ name. I still respond like I did when I was six. And I love it. It’s our ongoing inside joke.

  • Kat

    2013/01/23 at 7:06 am

    Heh, I’ve wondered about the Marlo Stanfield connection for a long time, so thanks for clearing that up! If she doesn’t at some point in her life use the line “My name is my name!” she will have missed out on an awesome opportunity.

  • Lauren3

    2013/01/23 at 7:19 am

    Yeah, that huge smile on her face and laughter emanating from her sure showed her distress!

  • GG

    2013/01/23 at 8:28 am

    I know it’s such a white thing to say but I really, really love The Wire.

  • Mrs G

    2013/01/23 at 9:09 am

    Love this! Can’t wait to use this on my 3 1/2 year old.

  • slinkerwink

    2013/01/23 at 9:10 am

    Marlo kind of looks like Alanis Morisette in that “Ironic” music video. I was expecting Marlo to belt out that song for some reason.

  • Lisa_Barone

    2013/01/23 at 10:32 am

    I agree. Marlo Iris Armstrong looks VERY upset.

  • Natollie

    2013/01/23 at 2:15 pm

    We have the opposite problem. Our 3-year-old refuses to listen to anything other than Bob. You know, from Bob the Builder. Also, I’m not mom, I’m Lofty. Dad is Muck, the dog is Wendy (he’s male) and his grandparents are Dizzy and Roley.

    Unless of course he’s Freddie Mercury. Then the dog gets to be Brian May (“We have to buy hands for Brian so he can play guitar!”), my husband is Roger Taylor and I’m stuck with being John Deacon.

    It makes for fun family outings when he calls for us. “LOOOOFTYYYY!!! MUUUUCK!!!”

  • Marilyn Shipley

    2013/01/23 at 6:10 pm

    Yep, you are alone in that.

  • Marilyn Shipley

    2013/01/23 at 6:12 pm

    If she isn’t an actress when she grows up, I’ll … why I’ll just eat my hat. She is fabulous.

  • Marilyn Shipley

    2013/01/23 at 6:14 pm

    Don’t you mean Marlo Armstrong Iris? 🙂

  • jadine

    2013/01/24 at 12:02 am

    I have always messed with my youngest by calling him the wrong name. His name is Mason, so I call him Jason, Nathan, etc. Used to make him FURIOUS (which was funny!), but now (at 13), all he gives me are sighs and eye rolls. I agree that the ‘I love you’ part was made of adorable.

  • Jen Wilson

    2013/01/24 at 8:59 am

    She has a great laugh. My kid was convinced, for the longest time, that her name was Liliana Wilson Pony Princess. Nothing could convince her otherwise. I’m not sure that she even knows her middle name yet. She’s half-way through Kindergarten, so I guess I’d better get on that.

    (Ok, I just asked her to say her full name. She still thinks that Pony Princess follow her first and last names and that she does not have a middle name. I am a horrible parent.)

  • Jen Wilson

    2013/01/24 at 9:18 am

    I call my kids “Goober” all the time. Alert Child Services.

    Marlo clearly looks traumatized. Oh wait, no, she’s laughing. Right.

  • Ali

    2013/01/24 at 10:19 pm

    I do the same thing with my daughter Imogen. When I call her Emma Jean she gets angry. And my son Olorin is most upset when people call him Oliver because we call him Ollie for short.

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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