What you say: “If you do that one more time, WE WILL GO HOME.”

What you think: “For the love of Pete please KNOCK IT OFF because I spent an hour getting ready to come here and I really don’t want to go ten minutes after getting here.”

Anyone experienced with the 3′ and under set know that as soon as you bend one rule with a toddler they are on you like flies on poo. They suddenly feel entitled to get away with tantrum murder. I’ve been lucky thus far in my parenting career. Generally if I have “that tone” in my voice when telling the moosh to mind me she listens without further argument. And let me just tell you there have been moments when I had no consequence or punishment in mind, I just threw the “mom tone” out there hoping it would fool her. *phew* most of the time it does. But then there’s those times when you throw out a consequence that you don’t really mean, and you’re left praying that your kid shapes up or your faced with the flies on poo dilemma.

Take for example our trip to the pool today. We had finally gotten there (Have you ever taken a kid swimming? The toys, the sunscreen, the potty, the snacks, the swimsuit, the towels, the bikini line, THE UTTER PREPAREDNESS OF IT ALL.) and after an hour the lifeguards took a break and everyone was to get out of the pool during the guards break. the moosh pulled some attitude after I told her to get out of the pool.

“You pull attitude again, we go home.” I said (thinking that would be enough to set her straight, HA HA said the parenting gods.)

She did the ugly grunt/growl at me, stomped her foot, scrunched her nose and yelled “NO!”

Decision time.

Two hours to get to the pool for only one hour of swimming. Do I abandon all that hard work on principle?

Yes, yes I do. Flies on poo Casey, flies on poo.

“I asked you not to be mean, we’re going home.

Cue the tears. OH THE TEARS. To see the moosh with her wet mop of curls, over sized mermaid sunglasses, wrapped in a pink beach towel with her chubby thighs sticking out bawling the saddest cry a small person is able to muster is a sight no one can look away from. People want to hug her, give her candy and unicorns. (I want to hug her and give her candy and unicorns too, but PRINCIPLE!) I’m left dragging a haggard, sad, chubby little water baby out of the YMCA all because she didn’t listen to me.

Now I’ve only had to abandon a well planned activity once before. It was the zoo, early last year. An hour to get prepared and travel there and less than ten minutes inside the gate when Tantrum War II broke out.

Principle sucks sometimes.

Another time the moosh was in her car seat just as we set out on a ten hour drive to Kansas City. Whatever she was doing was unacceptable and I turned to tell her “IF YOU DO THAT ONE MORE…” I stopped myself. What the heck was I going to do to a kid strapped in a car seat? Leave her at the side of the road? She knew it too. She looked at me as if to say “You’ll do what MOM? Put me in time out? Really? I’m right here. No going anywhere. Bring it.”

But I’m pleased to say that the moosh listens perdy darn well for a three year old. And if it takes days like today to give merit to my scary mom tone then so be it.

You’ve done this too right? Everyone? The whole “I’m saying it but I really don’t want to mean it” thing? How scary is your scary mom tone?


  1. With my son, I don’t even have to use a tone. I just give him THE LOOK. With my daughter? Eh. She wins. Always. Girls are MEAN, man.

    Karly’s last blog post..Strange But True: There Are Places That Do Not Have Wifi!

  2. Major kudos for following through. I’m sure I will have a tough time with that myself and have to fight my laziness to be a good parent.

    Reese’s last blog post..Day Eight: Exhaustion

  3. My mom tone is pretty darn mean. I’ve threated to leave my 3 y/o on the side of the road before (b/c of screaming, crying, throwin toys at brother or me)…and then he didn’t shape up and so i pulled over and let him out and drove off. He was practically pooping his pants he was so freakin’ scared. Now all I have to do while driving is threaten to pull over and the naughtiness stops! He knows now that when I say it I MEAN IT! (thanks nasty mom tone)

  4. My mom tone doesn’t work, my three year old just imitates it. But when I start counting to three…then the attitude changes. He’s in this “I do it myself, I’m a big kid” phase right now. The counting usually comes up when he is refusing to comply with a request or is giving me lip. He knows that if I get to three and he is still not cooperating, I am going to “help” him with something (or to the thinking chair) and that’s usually enough to stop the problem.

    His daddy, however, still hasn’t gotten the flies on poo lesson through his head yet.

    Antonette’s last blog post..Toiylet Trayning Braykethroo

  5. I’ve got the TONE. One of my kids listens to it, the other doesn’t give a flying rat’s patootie. I don’t parent them differently, but that’s just the thing with kids– what works for one won’t for another.

    Yesterday I had to pull Noise out of tumbling class for not listening to the teacher, and I felt like the worst mom ever, carrying him out as he screamed, “I’ll DO BETTER! I CAN DO BETTER!” But I bet next week WILL be better.

    The Other Dawn’s last blog post..Goddam right.

  6. So I only just found your blog today but I swear the Lord Himself must have led me to it because this post IS TOTALLY MY LIFE these days! I’ve got a two-and-a-half year old and she is killing me. KILLING. ME.

    And the pool? You would think life stops and starts and the edge of the damn pool.

    My pediatrician says we have another solid year of this. Say it isn’t so…

    Oh, and as for my scary mom tone? Yeah, she just growls right back at me. It IS sort of scary, but clearly not scary enough.

    Ket’s last blog post..Here’s the veg

  7. Hats off to you. I’m taking notes and learning from the master. P just hit 2 and it is indeed terrible at times.

    May I borrow your scary mom m.o.?

  8. I am exactly like you. Exactly. The tone, the bluff, the follow-through … and the usually-a-good-kid. Phew.

    mimi’s last blog post..Two!

  9. I’ll admit, mine always seem to know I’m bluffing. I just can’t bring myself to actually drag them out of wherever we are at because I know it might be a long while before I can get back out to the store, library, etc. I cave cause I’ve just got too many damn kids.

    Ashley’s last blog post..The Eye of the Tiger

  10. ugh. I use the whole..’quit doing that..I am counting to three method.’ luckily, my daughter has quite by the time I get to 2. Because honestly, I have no idea what happens after three?

    Shamelessly Sassy’s last blog post..I’m Going To Eat Your Skin Off.

  11. It seems that following through just once is enough to carry you through at least 20 threats you’re not sure you mean. You are a brilliant mother to follow through like that. You just bought yourself probably a year’s worth of “Ooooh. She might really mean that. I’d better not call her bluff!”

  12. Casey, I am soooo proud of you,sticking to your principles like that! The world needs more moms like you!

    I have tried and tried the mom tone, it worked when they were younger but be forewarned you need to practice the tone with no smirking whatsoevernomatterhowcuteor funnytheyare as teenagers. This is where I break down and lose it and they know it.

    They love me though and I know that too.

  13. I am such a waffler, it stinks. I have gotten much better (welcoming a 3rd scared me into toeing the principle line) and my saving grace is that so rarely do i take a truly fierce tone, that when I do, man oh man, do they fall in line.

    Amanda’s last blog post..Pygmy windows and pudgy tummies

  14. You are awesome! Eventually, it gets sooo much better. As long as you stick to your guns.
    My mom-tone is good…but the mom stare is killer.
    jen in ok