Apr 04 2007


Posting fom blackberry … Desperate … How do you get three year old out of sandbox at burger joint wthout meltdwn?

UPDATE FROM TWISTY BUNGALOW: Naturally the battery on my Blackberry went blotto about two seconds after I posted the above, so I was unable to avail myself of your advices. I ended up bribing the kid, as many of you suggested, with a chocolate shake. I think my act of bribery — and the fact that I was fatuously messing with a cell phone rather than devoting myself to the momentous events transpiring in the sandbox — dis-endeared me to the South Austin power-moms in the group, who all gave me the stink-eye.


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  1. kiki

    Suggest going for ice cream somewhere else…

  2. Heather

    Pretend to be an extremely animated squirrel/rabbit/robot/etc that has something very exciting to do elsewhere.

  3. skyscraper

    Promise you will never ever bring them again if they do not leave when you have decided it is time to leave. I have 4 rugrats and that generally worked with them.

    If that doesn’t work, gather your stuff annouce that you are leaving. Then do it. They’ll beat you to the car.

  4. hedonistic


    Actually, the prospect of something better usually works.

    Also, if they’re old enough, you can use guilt. Hold your blackberry to your ear and announce that you received a call from your dog, and he misses her.

  5. A.

    bribe with candy.

  6. yankee transplant

    Ice cream, definitely. As in, “I AM GOING FOR ICE CREAM NOW. What kind do YOU want?” Grab the camera, and start walking toward the door. Ole Rotel will likely follow.

  7. amanda

    promise something better than the sandbox. like a margarita.

  8. Hawise

    Bribery is always good but sets a bad precedent. Usually gathering stuff and heading for the exit is a better first strategy, follow up with the jaundiced eye and a threat to never return and finally the food bribes or the ‘play with’ bribes (as in “I will play Candyland with you if we leave now” and be heading for the door as you say it as a three-year old’s sense of NOW is different than yours.)

  9. Hawise

    BTW, meltdowns may cause looks but rarely cause permanent damage.

  10. Antoinette Niebieszczanski

    Bribery’s probably the most peaceful way to go. As long as you intend to pay up.

  11. CLD

    You have a blackberry? And can post from it? ::bows to Twisty::

    Sparkly things work wonders with three-year olds.

  12. GenderBlank

    You MUST be desperate. Two ellipses. Yowza.

  13. Foilwoman

    Twisty: I remember when I was a spinster Aunt and I called my Little Older Sister up to ask her how to get the FoilNephew out of McDonalds. Dead silence, then laughing. “You’re larger than he is, aren’t you? Pick him up.”

    “But he’ll scream and everyone will think I’m abusing him.”

    “Nope, he’ll scream and they won’t notice because it’s not their kid.”

    Now, with the two-year old (two and a half, actually) DestructoGirl exhausting my 45-year old self, I foreshadow: “We’re going to [sing something from *ack* the Wiggles] and when we’re done with that we’ll [do something else fun that gets her happy to get into the car seat, like: go home and make a milk shake, go home and read Good Night Gorilla — a fine literary work I would love to see you review, btw, go home and jump up and down on the bed, whatever.” After foreshadowing, we sing the damn song (assuring me a place in hell if there is one for making parents listed to “Dance With Dorothy” or “Riding in the Big Red Car” outside the home), and then I lift the solid little critter, screaming or no, and we go home.

    Suicide is always an option, but not recommended. Murder also is a bad idea. Good luck with the important Auntly work.

  14. MzNicky

    I trust you have the tot in tow by now. If not, tuck her up under your arm and leave. You’re bigger than she is, right? If she screams and yells just grin ruefully at the sympathetic parents around you. You’re the boss. Everyone will get over it.

  15. MNObserver


  16. Pinko Punko

    Mind control lasers, or total capitulation. You could cause the place to be evacuated by claiming to have seen someone breast feeding, then the cops might do the trick.

  17. Amaz0n

    I would suggest all sorts of diplomatic resolutions to this that don’t involve rewarding bad behaviour, but you are a Spinster Aunt, and thus it is your duty to reward bad behaviour. Proceed directly to the ice cream place.

  18. Amaz0n

    I wish I knew what I did to constantly merit the wrath of the spamulator. Sadness.

    Bribery, bribery, bribery. There is something to be said for not reinforcing bad behaviour IF you are a parent, but you are a Spinster Aunt. Reinforcing bad behaviour is your duty.

  19. teffie-phd

    Tough to avert a melt-down, just grab the kid, plug your ears and go.

    A five minute warning that this is coming is supposed to allow the kid a bit of autonomy.

  20. techne

    Child is 3? There is NO WAY to avoid a meltdown at that age. Use bribery. Use picking up and leaving. At that age they might not work tho, so be prepared to grit your teeth and hustle child into car as fast as you can. Don’t worry what other people think. If they are parents they understand. If they’re not, screw ’em.

  21. hedonistic

    So long as they’re not in a fancy restaurant, other parents laugh at meltdowns they don’t have to do anything about.

  22. Lalock

    If the child goes to day care, there’s a good chance that they’re used to having to shift tasks at an adult’s say-so. Tell them that they have five more minutes to play, then it’s time to leave. It usually works with my kids, anyway.

    The beauty of it is that they can’t tell time, so you really only have to wait about 30 seconds before telling them it’s time to go.

  23. norbizness

    Firehose and tear gas.

  24. lawbitch

    Ask the child *what* she will order at the Burger joint. Then say, “Great idea! Let’s go.” The kids thinks that it’s her idea and that she’s the leader. Works for me!

  25. legallyblondeez

    Give a three minute warning, tell her what the next Auntly Activity will be, and don’t budge once the time is up even if you have to carry the little meltdown to the car. Even most non-parents know the difference between a petulant child and an abused tot, and most will be indulgent, especially if you’re on your way elsewhere.

  26. Stacie

    Bribe with promise to purchase a toy, definitely. If he’s already had food, ice cream might not have much leverage.

  27. Stacie

    Or pretend that you’re leaving without them.

  28. NickM

    Sometimes you just need to let the meltdown happen.

  29. schatze

    Oh man, you forgot the retract-o-leash.

  30. TP

    I heartily second everyone here. Notice how direct everyone is with a toddler. Notice how easy it is for a toddler to understand directness. ‘Toddlers don’t understand subjunctive grammar as well as many people think,’ is what these wise people are saying.

    “Let’s go get ice cream” is better than “if we go now you will get some ice cream.” Is a good example. Notice how simple and clear “We go now get ice cream” is compared to “I propose, using the word if, that the possibility of ice cream will becomes calculably more probable if we decrease the amount of time negotiating our eventual change of venue and devote our mutual energies to achieving the objective of getting outside a few scoops of frozen milk and flavored sugars.”

    I assume that Twisty uses the same exalted language with her niece as she does with the rest of the world, agreeing with me, if she does, that talking down will never result in the kind of cultural exposure she hopes to provide. I would hesitate to advise using the same kind of reasoning and logical construction when faced with imperative actions. Pick up the child and leave, and console her or distract her.

    Never negotiate things that must be done with a toddler, and make all attempts to tell them of impending imperative action as clear and as devoid of questionable appeals to their undeniable yet unformed intelligence as you can reduce them.

    Feels funny to click the “Blame” button for this post. I love that button, though!

  31. josquin

    Endure meltdown.
    (From the voice of experience.) Do not give in to threats of meltdown. Hold her lovingly but firmly, and sympathize with her disappointment, but take charge and endure it.
    Short term gains vs. long term losses.

    Never pretend you are leaving without them, Stacy! If they still refuse, will you really leave without them? I hope not! Then you have totally blown your authority.
    If they do respond to such a threat, you’ve also instilled in them a real sense of anxiety and distrust that the adult responsible for them would actually go off and leave them in a public place.
    Either way, bad idea.

  32. kiki

    I find that surrounding caregivers usually nod and smile in understanding when toddlers meltdown. If you’re really lucky your actions will signal a mass exodus with everyone else grabbing their tyrannical toddlers and fleeing while there’s an out. When you say, “okay, I’m going to count to five”, you’ll notice beleaguered people grabbing their diaper bags and sand filled shoes; ready to bolt. “Look, honey, everyone is leaving.” In the subsequent brouhaha you’re just another anonymous toddler wrangler. All that crying knocks em out in the car, too. Makes for a primo nap.

    Never feed sugar at location one, otherwise you cannot relocate home or to location two.

  33. TinaH

    My 3 year old gets repeated advanced notices: “20 minutes to bedtime,” “15 minutes to bedtime,” “10 minutes,” you get the idea. He tells me NO at each notice. Sometimes we play the Yes/No game, where he tells me No, and I tell him Yes and we go back and forth. Then I switch sides, telling him No. He then tells me Yes and we have a lovely game.

    Don’t take the meltdown personally. Sometimes there’s lack of sleep/nap involved. Sometimes there’s simply melting down because Beloved Aunt Twisty is mooshy for that kind of thing and Niece/Nephew can get her/his way with some well placed screaming.

    ALso note: 3 year olds melt down. It’s one of their things. Many of them outgrow it by the time they’re 8. Or so I’ve heard.

  34. the stripper

    When I was a youngster, my mom would always say, “Don’t make me start counting!” Then she would immediately start counting backwards from ten. Never failed.

  35. Spinning Liz

    Just go ahead and have the meltdown in the sandbox yourself. Rotel will know what to do.

  36. Bird

    In similar situations, I pick the offending child up and carry her off to wherever we’re going. If necessary, I hold the child at arms’ length to avoid flailing feet (a football-style carry can also work well). But I’m merciless, tall, and lift heavy objects regularly.

  37. Foilwoman

    Meltdowns do happen. Pretty much gone by six or seven, except for something really dastardly. When you have a two-year old and a seven-year old really acting up in public, what the heck, have the meltdown yourself in the sandbox, as SpinningLiz so wisely suggests. You’ll feel better and maybe someone will give you the ice cream, margarita, or bottle o’ decent wine. Can’t wait to read about how the Auntly confrontation with the intelligent-but-not-yet-at-the-age-of-reason-superior-Faster-niece worked out. Remember, once home and no longer driving and the TwistySibling is rewrangling the TwistyNiece, liquor is, indeed, your friend.

  38. TinaH

    Never pretend you are leaving without them, Stacy! If they still refuse, will you really leave without them? I hope not! Then you have totally blown your authority. If they do respond to such a threat, you’ve also instilled in them a real sense of anxiety and distrust that the adult responsible for them would actually go off and leave them in a public place. Either way, bad idea.


  39. zofia

    Yeah, but she asked for a way to get out “wthout meltdwn?”

  40. skyscraper

    “Never pretend you are leaving without them, Stacy! ”

    What? Leaving without them shows them who is in charge. It shouldn’t be them! You as the adult are in charge!

  41. Lee

    Fill her/his mouth with sand.

  42. hedonistic

    Actually Spinning Liz, that’s EXACTLY what I did the very first time Bunny attempted her first toddler-tantrum: I threw myself on the floor and started kicking and screaming even louder. It completely freaked her out; I mean, she went dead silent. I’m 100% positive she never encountered this response at her daycare.

    Mommy is CRAZY. She never tried it again. That’s right: ONE failed attempt at a tantrum.

    This approach worked with the whinybabyfoofoo crap in grade school: She whined and I whined louder. She cowered in embarrassment: “Mommmmmm! Stop it! People are staring!”

    Now that Bunny is fourteen going on thirty, I’ve discovered this approach also works with general snottiness.

    “I know you are but what am I.”

    “I know you are but what am I.”



    When I advised this approach to my younger sister dealing with two kids my brother-in-law, who spent years working in a psychiatric ward, stroked his beard, nodded, and remarked that there’s actually a psychological theory that states that there can only be one “crazy” in a room at a time, and he found this to be true: When one patient would act up all the other patients in the room would get quiet and behave normally.

    Moral of the story: Be the crazy one.

  43. saltyC

    I agree that pretending to leave is a bad idea, because that makes it a game, one they want to win.

    Me, I vote for staying at the sandbox.

    I guess that doesn’t answer the question.

  44. Kate

    Be one with the meltdown. Understand that it is a small child’s way of resisting the oppression of parents and adults making decisions for them all the time. Smile and let em do it.

    (Wear earplugs if you find the sound too much to bear.)

  45. saltyC

    Hedonistic, very interesting theory. Sometimes it even works on newborns.

  46. Flamethorn

    Tranquilizer dart and duct tape.

  47. Rainbow Girl

    You can’t out-talk a three year old.

    You can, however, out-spank a three year old.

    (ducks to avoid hurled tomotoes)

  48. techne

    In a house with toddlers I once found a book espousing your idea, hedonistic. Can’t recall the name. It wasn’t that mom’s style, but I found it interesting. It claimed it worked because a toddler screams and screams because something is wrong with her world, and if parent gets calmer and calmer the screams get more desperate because it means parent is not on the toddler’s page, world-wrong-wise. Screaming back means you understand they are upset (in fact the book recommended screaming just that, “You’re so upset! You’re so upset!”) Makes perfect sense, adults use this technique too, but we can do it with language: “What I hear you saying is, _____. Right?”

    I am awed by the struggle toddlers have with their emotions. What a huge task it is to learn to regulate yourself. Thank goodness they’re not any bigger than they are or parents would be screwed. IME as an auntly type, it starts at 18ish months with “no,” steadily worsens esp if toilet training goes poorly, and starts improving around age 4.

    Look! We’re trading parenting tips on a radical feminist blog! tee hee.

    Twisty, you’re killin’ us here! What happened??

  49. Patti

    Toddlers can’t NOT do something, they can only do something else. Substitution, or bribery. (works with puppies, too)

  50. josquin

    Good point techne!
    I can’t tell if you’re joking or not.
    Leaving a 3 year old child alone in a public place is not the act of an “adult in charge”. It’s the act of an abusive adult who is sadistically punishing a child for a developmentally normal
    The way to show you are in charge is to give the advance notice of a few minutes, and pick up and transport the child to the intended destination if the child has not yet decided to come along willingly, as most commenters here have recommended.

  51. saltyC

    Yes there’s a reason children are little and parents are big.

    Same thing with why watermelons grow on the ground and cherries grow on trees.

    The exceptions are Jack fruits and boyfriends.

  52. S-kat

    My folks used the “We’ll leave without you” tactic and all I got from it were abandonment issues.

    I’ve seen the “only one crazy in the room” theory work on an infant. We couldn’t get him to stop crying until his brother (about 5 yrs. old) got in his face and mimiced him. I’ve never seen a baby so astonished. The things I’ve learned from kids!

  53. josquin

    Except I’m not sure I love the parent-screaming idea. It might appear to the child that we are completely out of control, which can be frightening to a child.
    Children can be afraid of their own outbursts of emotional intensity. A screaming fit-throwing adult might cause them to feel as if no one is minding the shop as it were, and although they may be awed into silence, the message we send may not be the one we intended.

    Twisty help us here!!
    Or we’ll start screaming and throwing a tantrum!

  54. kathy a

    warning [as in “5 minutes, then we are going”]. promise of something better [bribery]. last warning. take child to car, if possible with a casual air of setting off on an adventure. go.

    there is no way to avoid meltdowns all the time, unless you just give in to toddler whims every time and see that last until the child becomes donald trump. on the other hand, you are the cool spinster aunt, and such relatives do not have to be the Enforcers all the time — aunts, uncles and grandparents can spoil kids with impunity. it is part of the job description.

    but i digress — bribery works really well. although you have surely arrived at some solution before now.

  55. finnsmotel

    Unless there are some single people hanging out in the playground, the meltdown will really only bother you. The kid is just venting. The other kids have all seen and done the same thing. The other parents have all been through it a zillion times.

    But, wait. Weren’t we supposedly voting to liberate children from the oppression of adults?!?!

    Rubber meeting the road doesn’t smell so good, eh? Where is Firestone when you need her?!


  56. skyscraper

    josquin I am serious.

    I should possibly point out that I have never actually ended up leaving one of my actual children.

    Acting like your child? I think that seems weird. You are the behavior model. If you remain calm when things get revved up, the seems to believe you can conquer anything.

  57. vera

    You have to give ’em choices. “Now, Darling,” you say, “which would you like: to go look at the puppies at the pet store, or go home and jump on the big bed?” The trick is that you control the choices, and you don’t offer any that aren’t acceptable to you.

    Sound familiar?

  58. kcb

    As a Montessori-trained, early-childhood wonk and the mother of a three-year-old, I say go with bribery! You’re the aunt, and bribery is one of the auntly privileges. Keep it short and sweet: “Ice cream time!” and then get your things together to leave. It’s always considerate to give a one-minute heads-up, but don’t drag it out too long with a kid that age.

    Or you could clear your afternoon schedule, order another drink and see just how long she can play in the sand.

  59. kate

    With kids, be prepared to handle a meltdown here and there and also be prepared that if you use bribery, they will never forget and pitch a fit more fierce than the next until they get an offer they like.

    Bargaining like that sets up a bad precedent as the child learns that you are the prime stakeholder and they hold the goods. Kids can pick up on an adult’s anxieties pretty quickly. That’s why kids always pitch a fit in a public place; if mom and dad are more willing to give up the goods at burger joint or the grocery store, then such trips become a windfall enterprise.

    Like many have said here, packing everything up, making the announcement, quite audible for the child, “Well, that’s it, we’re outta here!” and then heading toward the car will usually get them running. But you have to put on a serious show lest your bluff be tested.

  60. Pony

    What are you driving these days.

    “Rotel, let’s see what Aunt Twisty’s car can do flat out.”

  61. tinfoil hattie

    Ha, it probably wasn’t “stinkeye” as much as it was, “Oh, boy…are you in for it now, and we all know it!”

  62. elm

    Choices are always good. “Let’s get out of here. Do you want to poke the dog with a stick, or wrangle some dust bunnies?”

    When choices failed and the fit got pitched, I used to ask the evil twin “Petunia” what she had done with [offspring]. “‘Cause [offspring] knows we don’t roll like that around here.” It was amazingly effective.

  63. Twisty

    Finnsmotel: “But, wait. Weren’t we supposedly voting to liberate children from the oppression of adults?!?!

    Rubber meeting the road doesn’t smell so good, eh? Where is Firestone when you need her?!”

    Hardy har. But seriously, I’m calling Not My Fault. The young relative is already steeped in nuclear family neurosis, and Firestonian principles can’t be implemented in five minutes. But KCB is right. Next time I’ll find a burger stand with a sandbox AND a bar: everyone’ll be happy.

    I don’t know how you people do it.

  64. Pinko Punko


    If not, the poop starts to fly!

  65. Hawise

    I don’t know how you people do it.

    Repeat as necessary- This too shall pass, this too shall pass.

    You might want to stay sober while the three-year old is in tow. Like sharks, they can smell blood in the water a mile off. Bribery needs to be kept for special cases, sugaring her up before drop-off may not endear you to the parental units.

  66. Kyso K

    You can’t out-talk a three year old.

    You can, however, out-spank a three year old.

    (ducks to avoid hurled tomotoes)

    I won’t throw any – a few spankings from an otherwise non-violent parent are an effective tool. Getting snapped in the wrist with a plastic ruler was an unmistakable sign of having crossed a serious line when I was a kid.

  67. thebewilderness

    I hope all is well with Tidy Faster.

    Never bluff a child. If they call your bluff and you back down they will know from that moment on that you are a liar. They are entirely dependent upon you. They need to be able to trust you.

  68. Violet

    Kneel down before the child, making yourself as abjectly humble as humanly possible, and use your whiniest, most petulant voice to reason with little ‘Britiffany’ or ‘Cody’. Remember that his/her self-esteem is at risk here, so make sure that you prattle on endlessly about how special he/she is to you and Daddy, even though Daddy has since “moved on with his life”, while casually thumbing through a wad of cash you happen to have handy for this all too common occurence. If you happen to be cash strapped, use the anatomically correct sock puppets you always carry in your Kate Spade bag to act out an impromptu performance involving puppet child and puppet mommy negotiating a sandbox settlement that ends with puppet mommy rewarding puppet child with an extra dose of Ritalin and a lengthy soliliquay about cooperation and compassion. When child puppet realizes that his/her actions only compound mommy’s headaches and reinforces the notion that Mommy is less than stellar in her parenting skills, owing to the fact that Daddy’s recent departure has “impacted” her own “self-esteem issues”, child-puppet willingly exits the sandbox and declares his/her intention to spend “quality time” with Mommy at Starbuck’s instead.

  69. kathy a

    yay! bribery wins again! chocolate shake — inspired solution, i tell you.

    don’t worry about the stink-eye. in all likelihood, those moms give that look to anyone who doesn’t give them air-kisses and enquire after the family poodle.

    not to be nosy, but if the wonderful and energetic rotel is staying at the twisty bungalow, you may want to take an inspired trip to the video store for some diversions that spinster aunts may not normally keep handy. stickers and washable markers are also good for Art! Projects! to pass the time, at least until she is ready for photoshop.

  70. kathy a

    oh, i’d also like to point out that “bribery” of wee folk is usually shorthand for “diversion.” a 3 year old does not want a porche or political clout; she will usally be interested in something interesting and new, and that might be looking at a lizard or “helping” in the kitchen. chocolate shakes are usually very reliable diversions, though.

  71. Come the Revolution

    Ugh, I came home from a late meeting to check on this story’s denouement. I put the pj’s on before reading, and now all I want is a diversion from the sandbox that is my laptop, i.e. I need a chocolate shake. Will they notice my mismatched jammies and slippers at the drive thru? Do I care?

  72. Foilwoman

    “I don’t know how you people do it.”

    Truly the hardest part of being a broke single mother is that the liquor cabinet/wine cellar (shelf in fridge) is rarely fully, often empty, and never has the really good stuff in it any more. It’s hard to buy a nice Blanc de Blancs when after rent, day care, electric, phone, and food you have a grand total of $23.67 for all other monthly expenditures.

  73. Rainbow Girl


    Hell, I even slapped myself with rulers as a child because those “snap bracelets” were totally in. And it didn’t do me a lick of harm (curls up on floor in fetal position).

  74. Yemaya

    It isn’t bribery. I am a parent educator/coach specializing in working with parents who have autism spectrum children. I mostly work on improving the family life. You cannot believe the stuff I see on a daily basis when a little behavioral modification would make a HUGE difference in said family, parents’ and yes, child’s life.

    and I use REWARDS all the time. Bribes are illegal payments paid in advance to try to get an official or person in authority to do something that another person desires. Rewards are used to well, reward people for doing something unpleasant, or good work. I don’t even call rewards “rewards”, they are motivators. And everyone is movativated by something, a good parent, good teacher, or good parent coach just figures out what that said motivator is.

    So, in this case, handing the child a chocolate bar and saying okay, I did something nice for you, now do something for me is a bribe.

    A motivator would be-
    “We are leaving in three minutes” When you clean up your sandtoys and are buckled in your carseat THEN you can have your bag of M and M’s.
    WHEN….THEN is my favorite type of speechifying to the child. It actually gives the child control, and trust me, there are so many things in a child’s life that is out of control.

    So, this is how I do it..

    1. “Joey, we are leaving in three minutes” When I say clean up, we will clean up our sand toys, and When you have a quiet mouth while leaving, and have gotten buckled in your car seat, Then we can go get your favorite chocolate ice cream, or you can have the new book in my bag, or etc..(Informed child of what is expected, given child time to prep to leave, and offered a motivator for good and compliant behavior)

    2. Two minutes have passed. You now say-“Joey, you have 1 more minute then we have to clean up and leave. Remember, if you are good while we are leaving, we will stop for ice cream.

    3. Time passed. Okay, Joey time is up. (if child is resistant, acknowledge the feeling, “yes, it is very difficult to leave such a fun place, it must make you a little frustrated, or angry etc, can you pick up the yellow shovel, or do you want to empty out the sand in your shoes?, proceed calmly to either “help” child pick up shovel, or empty out shoes, if child hasn’t already started within 20 seconds of making request) Most of the time, if you have prepped the child with the time warning, you get compliance.

    4. Child cleans up. Verbally say-“oh, wow, thanks for helping you are such a big help to me, and I am so proud of how you kept it together, even though you didn’t want to leave. You should feel proud too..

    5. Walk to the car. buckle child in car. give motivator.

    Seems like a long time, but actually, it isn’t. I can get this process done in 2 minutes tops. The key is to KEEP your word if you said the kid would get M&Ms, by gosh it better be M&Ms. Otherwise, the kid won’t ever trust you, next time you say let’s go..he won’t.
    I often see parents say things like-“if you don’t stop fighting, we are leaving McDonald’s right now.” You know the parent doesn’t mean it, you know the kid knows the parent doesn’t mean it. Me, I say it once-and then I do what I said I would do-leave McDonald’s. So many parents call me and say he won’t listen to me, and I go observe the household for a day and at conference say-“it isn’t your kid, it’s you.You never follow through on what you say you will d, so why should he listen?”
    Maybe I am a parent-blamer.

  75. Joanna

    I also got a lot of mileage out of a calm voice and “You can walk or I can carry you.” *pause for compliance* “I see you are choosing to let me carry you” if my kid did not respond to something like Yemaya’s scenario.
    I often rewarded myself with chocolate if I didn’t have a meltdown.

  76. Olive

    When I was a kid, comparison helped. I would always be a little bit less of a pain than my little brother. If a parent mentioned how badly behaved another kid was in leaving the playground, I would be an absolute angel when my time came. If I was recently reminded that pitching a fit was shameful, I tended not to.

    Is it bad to play on that competitive nature or on shame? Couldn’t say.

  77. Mel

    OMG Violet! Hahahahahahaha!!!

  78. Antoinette Niebieszczanski

    I politely declined going to see my nephew’s just-purchased new house due to a screeching 1-yr-old. I’m sorry, but after 8 hrs at the monkey house that is my job, I ain’t up for that ear-piercing trilling phase all the little darlings go through. Personally, I’d carry a small squirt gun in my pocket and apply it judiciously, but I ain’t his mommy. I beat a well-timed retreat to the relative peace of my (childless) home.

  79. Mar Iguana

    “Moral of the story: Be the crazy one.” hedonistic

    Oh, this has so worked for me in countless situations. But, then I’m not just certifiable. I’m certified. Got the paperwork to prove it.

    Mirroring the pitch-fit absolutely works. My kid threw the peas I had lovingly pureed in my face (he never had a canned or frozen veggie in his little life). I picked up a handfull and pitched it right back at him. He sat trapped in his highchair gasping like a green-faced, grounded flounder. Better than shock treatment. Never tried THAT again.

    Kids are button pushers. Push button “A” and get response “A.” But, if you start running around doing your best impression of The Roadrunner instead, they think twice before pushing that button again.

  80. finnsmotel

    “Next time I’ll find a burger stand with a sandbox AND a bar: everyone’ll be happy.

    “I don’t know how you people do it.”

    That’s EXACTLY how we do it!!

  81. vera

    …can you pick up the yellow shovel, or do you want to empty out the sand in your shoes?

    You see? Choices. And they’re just about as meaningful as the ones we’ve got.

  82. Spinning Liz

    Just look at all the knowledge and expertise, not to mention physical stamina, required to remove a single small child from a sandbox. It makes me wonder why the hell nobody gets paid $65/hour to manage a toddler. IBTP.

  83. Vera Venom

    “It makes me wonder why the hell nobody gets paid $65/hour to manage a toddler. ”

    Well, because it’s women’s work, silly! Only manly work is actually well.

    Unless you’re job is specifically designed to please men, in which case they might toss you an extra five dollars.

  84. Vera Venom

    “Only manly work is actually well.”

    s/b “is actually paid well”

  85. niki

    Sell the offending child to the highest bidder. I’m sure if you’re in a playground full of moms, someone is bound to take the offer!

  86. Frumious B

    ”It isn’t your kid, it’s you. You never follow through on what you say you will do, so why should he listen?”

    You know the best part about these type revelations? It’s how those same parents like to tell me that I, childless as I am, can’t possibly give an intelligent critique of childrearing, and I couldn’t possibly understand. Dude, just because I’ve never used my uterus doesn’t mean I’m stupid.

  87. thebewilderness

    Frumious “the adorable” B

  88. Twisty

    Now I know: if I ever need to boost my ratings, all I have to do is write a post that goes “Hey, anybody out there have some child-rearing advice they’d like the world to hear?”

  89. rainie

    I hated the playgrounds at fast food places, but my kids loved them so once in a blue moon we would go. Rule #1 was that you eat your meal before you play. Rule #2 was that when I say that it is time to go we go or we will not come back for a very long time. I meant it and I’m sure that it came through in the tone. I got an occasional short plead from middle child, but never any outright refusals. I do remember picking her and her shoes up and carrying them to the car at least once when she thought that she would delay leaving by putting her shoes on reaaaaally slowly.

    I didn’t do the sticky sweet-tone don’t really mean it pleading faux reasoning thing with my small children. For this I too would get the stink-eye from the power moms.

    I’m not sure what I will do when grandchildren come. I may be a bit indulgent, but it’s hard to say how much.

  90. Antoinette Niebieszczanski

    Hey, it’s the easiest job in the world to raise someone else’s kids, especially in the realm of advice-giving.

  91. The Hedonistic Pleasureseeker

    Also, it’s something that 80% of humanity has to deal with at some point, but the little buggers never come with instructions and every first born is like starting out from scratch: You’re the Only One In The World who’s ever spawned something like THIS.’Cept you’re not.

    Viva la Blogosphere! If you have obscure problem X chances are high that about a million veterans have faced the exact same thing. Blogger advice tends to be SO much better than family advice, because you can see the conflicting recommendations side-by-side and choose what makes the most sense. Also, you KNOW your families fucked it all up; I mean, just look at y’all, and look at their kids, OY.



    (Sometimes NOT!)

    Here’s some AWESOME, unsolicited advice:

    1) Never take parenting advice from people whose children are monsters (big or small).

    2) Never accept parenting advice based wholly on theories about how things Ought To Be. These people have NO CLUE.

    3) ALWAYS experiment with advice that WORKED LIKE A CHARM! for another caregiver, knowing full well your mileage may vary.

    4) Never reason with a child whose brain isn’t quite working that way yet (i.e., toddlers, some teenagers, and a few old men). It’s akin to pouring the perfect margarita down the bathroom sink. These are the times to use subtrefuge! In a pinch (i.e., you lose connectivity to the Mother Ship) be creative. Often the best approach is the most nonsensical (be teh CRAZY!).

    And that, my friends, is the news from the Lair.

  92. mg_65

    Tell her it’s time to watch My Neighbor Totoro.

  93. amazonmidwife

    I just had to delurk to especially second Yemaya and Joanna, as well as thank everyone for a lovely 10 minute sanity break; inspiration from spinster aunts et al. is how this parent gets through the day.

  94. lawbitch

    Isn’t a childless person giving child rearing advice like a priest giving marital advice? Just saying.

    The challenging thing about parenting is that just when I’ve adjusted to the next stage, the kid drags me onto the *next* stage. Now, it’s teenagehood. :-0

  95. Yemaya

    Actually, I do get paid or should I say-I charge anywhere from 20 dollars to 150 dollars per hour for what I do.

    And that is the difference, I am know I am worth it, and I know that the parent is desperate when they haven’t slept for four days because their four year old autistic child has discovered that smearing feces on the wall at 3 am is so much FUN.

    but you know, if my ass is going to be at your house, from 10 pm to 6 am, managing and coaching parents throught such a scenario for two weeks, you bet said ass will be compensated very, very, very well. Parents can just cancel their trip to Italy next month is the way I look at it.

    Women in domestic positions don’t think the work they do is valuable, so they undercharge and underearn, and act all grateful that they have a job in this country. Plus, most of the extremely wealthy women these childcare workers work for take advantage. One childcare worker I know works from 7 am to 8 pm Monday through Saturday and not only is expected to provide enriching experiences for the children in her care, but to keep a spotless house everyday. She even has to iron the clean underwear of the children so the underwear lays flat in the drawer. This poor woman makes $550 a week, and has no benefits. I asked the mom when the indentured slave was finally allowed to be free.

    I often thought about organizing a strike or blue flu for the child care workers in my area. See what happens when the women who hire these indentured servants has to cancel her tennis and golf matches, or the Woman’s Board Luncheon.

  96. Ms Kate

    What goes for parents does not necessarily go for spinster aunts and grandparents. Your job isn’t to raise the kid, your job is to have a pleasant time with the kid – even if that means spoiling ’em rotten. After all, you don’t have day-to-day care of her so you can’t do too much damage, right?

    Excellent work, Auntie Twisty! Carry on.

  97. jenofiniquity

    If you can get power moms to give you the stinkeye, you must be doing SOMETHING right.

  98. Frumious B

    Isn’t a childless person giving child rearing advice like a priest giving marital advice? Just saying.

    Yeah, b/c I can’t possibly notice that the kid is screaming b/c she is tired from walking all over the damn zoo and threatening her won’t make her less tired but taking her home might. And I can’t possibly notice that the kid *really* wants to sit next to Aunty today and that the planet will continue to turn if she doesn’t sit next to Mom, so just let her sit next to Aunty already b/c it will shut her up faster than yelling at her will. And I certainly can’t notice that the reason the kid is dropping the cat food in the water bowl is that he doesn’t have enough motor coordination to reach all the way across the water bowl while maintaining a grip on the food so he can give it to the cat so maybe praise for being nice to the cat while maneuvering him away from the food dish is a better reaction than scolding him. Nope, I couldn’t have any useful input into these situations. Unused uterus = no understanding of children at all.

    Frankly, from where I sit, I see no correlation whatever between reproduction and parenting ability. Just saying.

  99. redhead

    Frumious B, I have to second what you said. I was once a part-time nanny for a woman who claimed that, when her 1 1/2 yr-old daughter would scream bloody murder when her mom left the room, it was because she ‘had been upset by 9/11.’ Anyone who was outside the family could see that it was because the mom had never left the baby’s side since the baby was born, not because of a violent incident that the baby had absolutely no awareness of. A lot of times, being the actual biological parent makes you a worse parent, because you have no distance from the child and can’t see clearly what is painfully obvious to those who observe from the outside.

  100. Yemaya

    I hate dittoheaded posts, but word to Frumious and redhead.

    I am a parent eductor without children. I couldn’t do what I do if I had to come home every night to screaming, noncompliant, testing the boundaries little kids of my own. Does that make me unqualified? No, because based on my eperience and knowledge, I know kids, I know parents, and I am not trapped in the emotional forest that is parenthood. In other words, I see parents who say-” wow, look at all these trees, I am lost in the trees, and as the guide on the side, I say-“you aren’t lost in the trees, you are stuck in the forest”.

    In working with parents and children, unlike most of my clients, I have realistic expectations, I have infinite patience, and I am able to read a situation without letting kids push my emotional buttons. Plus, while all behaviors are a way of communicating, I realize that what is being communicated and the child percieved need being communicated through that behavior may not be the need that the child actually needs to be met. If that makes any sense.

    I put this argument of-“but you don’t reallly understand because you aren’t a parent” in the same catagory as when I was a midwife/doula and my clients would say-“but how can you support me as a doula, never having gone through labor?” and I would say-is your doctor a male or female? And the potential client would answer invariably-“male”. And I would say back-“ask how many babies he has personally pushed out of his penis.”

    yeah, I wasn’t the most tactful doula, nor am I the most tactful parent coach/educator.


  101. rivergirlie

    getting the stinkeye from any power mummy has to be regarded as untarnished victory. i salute you

  102. The Hedonistic Pleasureseeker

    I present to all this little gem:


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