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Parenting a Toddler: It Gets Better…. Right?

Last week, I posted a link to an essay about the “joys” of raising a toddler. Specifically, the essay was a defense of parents who get the side-eye from strangers when their toddlers act… well, like toddlers, in public. After I got home from my grandfather’s funeral on Friday evening, I had a chance to read through some of the comments that essay inspired (comments left on this site, I should say, not the original source), and I was surprised and kind of disappointed by what I read. There was an implication — a pretty explicit implication, actually — that bad behavior = bad parenting. There was also an implication that if a person had younger siblings growing up or has friends with kids or works in a place that kids frequent, then that person knows what it’s like to raise a toddler. Wrong.

If you aren’t a parent or a teacher or a nanny or some other adult who is with the same children for an extended period of time day after day after day for months and months, you really have no idea what you’re talking about. You just don’t. Hell, I’d even go so far as to say that even if you ARE a parent, but it’s been more than ten years since you parented a toddler, there’s a good chance you’ve forgotten just what it’s like to be around a two-year-old for hours and hours every day. That shit is HARD. Toddlers are fucking BONKERS. Parenting an almost two-year-old — a rambunctious, precocious, all-boy two-year-old — is the most exhausting, challenging, nerve-racking, rewarding thing I’ve ever done. And if you haven’t done it yourself, you really don’t know what it’s like. I don’t care if you had a little brother ten years younger growing up or you work in a Walmart where lots of families with little kids go shopping or you spent a couple summers babysitting your neighbor’s toddler son when you were in high school. None of that truly prepares you for the front line of parenting a two-year-old.

I’m a good parent. Both Drew and I are really good parents. We read to Jackson all the time and talk to him constantly and feed him healthy foods and plan lots of activities and outings we think he’d enjoy. We play with him and spend lots of time outdoors and take him on train rides and help him foster friendships. We don’t over-indulge him. He isn’t spoiled. His toy-count is limited, as is his TV-viewing. We love him so, so much and he knows it. He is well-cared for and safe. He is a very happy child. He is also a colossal pain in the ass sometimes. I mean, he’s a toddler.

I spend a ton of time with toddlers these days and, while their personalities and temperaments vary, I don’t know one toddler or parent of a toddler who doesn’t admit to the occasional tantrum. Some kids throw more tantrums than others, and some are more public. I happen to have a toddler who throws a lot of tantrums (he also has a lot of personality). He screams and cries and pulls hair and pinches and kicks and hits. And that’s just how he treats ME on a given morning when I’m trying to get him dressed for the day. I’d love to say this bad behavior is isolated to the mornings in his bedroom, private and out of view of judgmental eyes and ears. But it’s not. Jackson behaves this way in the grocery store, in the coffee shop, on the playground, in the stairwell. I have been embarrassed and ashamed more times than I can count because I see those side eyes when he has a normal meltdown and I know people are thinking I’m to blame (or, worse, that there’s something really wrong with my child).

Sometimes I think I’m to blame. Even though I know I’m a really good parent, I sometimes wonder why my kid isn’t really good all the time. What’s wrong with him that he’d slap me across the face? In public? I wonder. (True story). What did I do wrong that he would behave that way? Do I not love him enough? Do I not set enough boundaries? Do I set too many? Should I be giving him more time outs? Fewer time outs? Different kinds of time outs? Am I too easy on him? Too hard?

The truth is, I’m probably doing a lot wrong, but I’m not sure that has anything to do with my son’s tantrums. He’s just being a toddler. True, he’s probably a little more wound up than average, but he’s still in the range of what’s normal for a little boy his age. He screams and cries and pulls hair and pinches and kicks and hits. He also says thank you all the time without being prompted and he gives the sweetest hugs and he laughs louder and longer than any other kid I’ve ever met. He’s a toddler.

I’m still new to parenthood, but after nearly two years, I’ve been at it long enough to know that phases are just that: phases. They come and they go. And bad behavior in toddlerhood is, thank God, just a phase. Eventually, children learn that tantrums — especially in public — are inappropriate. They learn to express their feelings through words — words that many of them simply don’t have at two years old. All the crazy energy coursing through their still-tiny bodies calms down a bit. The painful growth spurts slow. The teething comes to an end. And the social skills they’re learning at the playground or in preschool or in the sandbox sharpen and they realize that hitting isn’t nice and that sharing is a better way to make friends.

The learning curve — for both the children and the first-time parents — is steep in toddlerhood. But eventually the difficult lessons do pay off, I think. I hope. Those awkward experiences in the grocery store when your two-year-old throws himself on the floor and wails loudly because you won’t buy him the sugary cereal finally dissipate and, hopefully, you have a child who understands boundaries and that in life, we don’t always get what we want and that’s ok. But, while a parent has the benefit of a long-term pay-off, the random passerby does not. He or she sees the public meltdown and that’s it. She doesn’t see a year or two from now when that same toddler turns into a sweet, polite 4-year-old who still may whine from time to time, but no longer beats his tiny fists against the floor, red-faced and out of breath because his mother told him it was time to go home for lunch.

So, random passers-by and people who side-eye my fellow warriors in this battle called parenthood, let me tell you something: what you see in the five-minute snippet of my life, of our lives, is just a tiny percentage of the full picture. I know it’s annoying and I’m sorry for that, but it is not indicative of my role as a parent or my son’s development or his ability to cope or interact with people. It is just five minutes in the life of a toddler — five minutes that may seem like an absolute eternity (especially to ME), but is really just a blip on the radar. Stick around another five minutes and you’ll see a different kid — a happy, laughing, sweet little boy — one I hope to see more and more of as he matures and learns to handle small disappointments with better grace.

But for now, I have a crazy two-year-old with boundless energy, strong opinions, and a temper that rivals Medusa. It’s my job to help him learn how to express himself appropriately and how to rein it all in when necessary. But that takes time. It just doesn’t happen overnight. And it doesn’t all happen from the comfort and privacy of our home. Much of the learning will happen outside, in public, around people like you. And it’s going to take a while, so please, when you see us out and about and my son starts acting like a colossal pain like he does sometimes, save your judgment. Show some compassion. This shit is HARD. And I’m doing the very best I can.


Comments on this entry are closed.

avatar sisisodapop September 24, 2013, 1:44 pm

Thank you, Wendy.

avatar kerrycontrary September 24, 2013, 1:46 pm

Yay Wendy! I just think it’s so easy to judge people and we never know the full story or know what someone’s life is like.

I think something I’ve learned, even as people develop into adults, is you can do everything right and your kid can turn out not great. Or you can do a lot of things wrong and get lucky and have a great kid. All you can do is your best. I think what it boils down to is getting rid of the judgement. Even if a parent IS doing something that you see as “bad parenting” (whether its scolding in public, having their kid out late at night, feeding them doritos for breakfast) you don’t know their life! Maybe they work a weird schedule so their kid gets up later and goes to bed later than other kids. Or maybe they slept 2 hours and they cannot keep their cool even though they are normally a “good parent”. Or maybe their kid really just wants to eat doritos and its easier to say “yes” instead of them throwing a fit on public transportation and having everyone stare at them and then determine that they are a “bad parent” and that’s why their kid is having a tantrum.

Just knowing a 2 year old right now…they have tantrums. Even if they are on a schedule. Even if their parents enforce discipline. They just do.

avatar lets_be_honest September 24, 2013, 1:50 pm

WWS. All of it!

I had a close friend who would tell me how she knows exactly what I was going through when Lil was younger because “she practically raised her little sister.” It made me BATTY! I, too, “practically raised” my younger siblings. Nothing.like.parenting. She just had her first child 2 years ago. She promptly apologized for saying that all the time. Haha.

avatar kerrycontrary September 24, 2013, 1:55 pm

I know this is the exception, but I’ve run into a lot of people lately who had parents who left them as teens and then subsequently had to raise their younger siblings who were still children. I know that sounds crazy and I don’t know how people get away with it, but in that case I would believe someone’s parenting experience.

theattack theattack September 24, 2013, 1:58 pm

Agreed. Or parents who are too drunk to take care of the kids properly. I see this dynamic all the time. Sometimes the older kids really are parenting the younger ones. If someone’s talking about babysitting and not making the decisions about childrearing then I get why that would be annoying.

avatar lets_be_honest September 24, 2013, 2:00 pm

I still feel like there is a big difference. Just from my personal experience.

theattack theattack September 24, 2013, 2:02 pm

What do you think the difference is if the older kid is acting as a full time parent?

avatar lets_be_honest September 24, 2013, 2:07 pm

Now that I know Kerry meant the parents literally moved out, its not a big difference, but still a difference.

I’m thinking more along the lines of what I experienced (parents divorced, dad left with all the $, mom went back to school and work full time). I still was a “kid” at school, but came home to make lunches, dinners, bath time, reading, checking homework, light discipline, bedtime, all that kinda stuff. All the “parent” stuff. But I’d still say that was very different than having my own kid.

theattack theattack September 24, 2013, 2:19 pm

Yeah, I get that. I can only imagine how annoying that is to hear someone say that they understand parenting when they were only standing in for a parent part time. And that’s probably what happens the majority of the time, but there are times when siblings actually do raise siblings, even if the parents still are there. Some of the families I see have parents in the home, but they might leave for days at a time, and when they are there, they’re constantly drunk or strung out and don’t pay attention to the kids except to beat them every now and then. They might be present, but they’re not parenting; the teenagers are doing literally all of the parenting.

avatar lets_be_honest September 24, 2013, 2:23 pm

All good points that I totally agree with. I obviously was only thinking of my somewhat normal experience, not the truly horrible things some kids have to deal with.

theattack theattack September 24, 2013, 2:26 pm

That’s understandable. My mind usually jumps straight to the worst possible scenario, because that’s obviously what I see and talk about all day.

avatar lets_be_honest September 24, 2013, 1:59 pm

Parents who actually left, like moved out?

avatar kerrycontrary September 24, 2013, 2:01 pm

Yes. Parents who moved out while their oldest was like 14. In the situations I’m aware of the kids still get money occasionally so they can eat/stay in the house, but the parents (or parent) will go move somewhere else and/or live with a new boyfriend/girlfriend. Sometimes the kids have no other family, or they are doing Ok so the neighbors don’t call CPS.

avatar lets_be_honest September 24, 2013, 2:03 pm


avatar kerrycontrary September 24, 2013, 2:06 pm

Yeh it’s insane and I feel heartbroken that a parent would leave their children like that. But they really are “raising” their siblings as the parents couldn’t give a crap whether their children are placed in foster homes or not.

avatar lets_be_honest September 24, 2013, 2:09 pm

So, so sad. You’ll see above I assumed you meant just parents that aren’t around much, but still living at home.

avatar lets_be_honest September 24, 2013, 2:12 pm

Thinking about it more, that’s really no different than parenting say, a kid you adopt who isn’t an infant. So yea, I agree with your first comment.

avatar Matcha September 25, 2013, 12:34 pm

This is what I think of when I hear “I parented my younger siblings.” One of my friends showed up to my high school graduation party with his baby sibling – I’d say the child was about a year old because he couldn’t walk. And the only reason he could make it was because my friend gave him a ride and my mother took care of his brother for a bit so he could relax. His parents left to go on vacation in another city and left the baby, with him, a high school student with no car and no money. At the time it seemed horrible but looking back on it it’s even more ridiculous to me.

avatar JM September 24, 2013, 1:52 pm

Well said. And I’m glad you can confidently say “I’m a good parent.” Even that isn’t easy to do without any qualifiers, knowing how much parents are judged at times.

avatar GatorGirl September 24, 2013, 1:56 pm

Wendy I’m sorry if you took my opinion as saying bad behavior = bad parents because that is not what I mean. I really understand why it’s read that way, but I really truly don’t believe that is true. I do however think most of the time bad parenting = bad behavior, but that is a whole different discussion.

I’m not going to keep commenting on this subject today, because the thread last week was exhausting. I apologize if I offended you Wendy, or anyone else, it was not my intention.

Dear Wendy Wendy September 24, 2013, 2:03 pm

I hope you don’t feel singled out. I think your words, whether or not they appropriately summarize your view on the relationship between parenting and kids’ behavior, represent a lot of people’s viewpoint. I see it in people’s eyes all the time. When jackson is acting out in public, it’s almost a given that someone is looking at me judgmentally, like it’s all my fault. No, I could do everything right (not that I do!) and my kid would still act out because that’s what toddlers do.

avatar GatorGirl September 24, 2013, 2:07 pm

Honestly I did feel pretty called out, but it’s cool. Some times a person needs to be called out! I think this whole subject is a big lesson on why it’s important not to judge those you don’t know (and those you do!).

avatar Jenny September 24, 2013, 2:25 pm

I don’t think you went as far as to say bad behavior = bad parenting, but you did basically say that good parenting would drastically reduce the number of tantrums, which I agree with…if we’re talking about pre-schoolers who do not have any underlying medical/developmental issues. But we’re talking about toddlers. One of the most important things you can do as a parent is have age realistic expectations for your child’s behavior. Expecting a toddler to not have tantrums is absurd. I think it’s a good thing to get “called out” in DW because for the most part it will be done kindly, and parents can get pretty annoyed when non-parents start spouting all their theories on how they’re fucking up their kids. As they should.

Also, I think it worth noting that most of the people agreeing with you were not parents and the people disagreeing with you were parents…that should have been a sign to you that perhaps your opinion was a bit misguided.

avatar kerrycontrary September 24, 2013, 2:04 pm

I think we were all just discussing different types of tantrums. There are the tantrums where a child’s needs aren’t being met. There are the tantrums where a perfectly happy child flips the fuck out because his socks are scratchy. There are the tantrums where a toddler doesn’t want to go home but he’s going to throw an even bigger tantrum if he doesn’t eat a snack in the next 72 seconds. The thing is as an outsider you don’t know which it is since you a only observing from a distance.

avatar bethany September 24, 2013, 2:13 pm

I agree with you (and said basically the same thing yesterday). There are certainly times where bad parenting decisions result in bad behavior (ex: kids out WAY past their bedtime acting out), but in my opinion, that’s not what the article was about. The article was about kids, young kids acting like the toddlers they are, and most of the time nothing can stop that!

avatar bethany September 24, 2013, 1:56 pm

I spent Sunday with my friend and her 2 kids- The oldest is almost 3. She’s a great kid, and I’m obsessed with her. She had a little cold, and all day went between being the sweetest little girl and the devil. 5 minutes one way, 5 minutes the other. One second she’s telling me she loves me and wants to come to my house and play with my cats, the next second she’s screaming for her mom, and won’t come near me. I’ll be honest, I was a little relieved when it was time for me to go home!!
Sometimes kids are just kids, and you can’t do anything about it.

avatar Odadrek September 24, 2013, 1:58 pm


“What did that … kid do to that poor woman!”

beelzebarb beelzebarb September 24, 2013, 2:50 pm

Aaaaand now I’ve fallen down the rabbit hole that is youtube videos of Louis CK stand-up.

Classic Classic September 24, 2013, 2:08 pm

Oh that video is adorable. He is just too cute for words. You are such a wonderful mother. I love when you post these.

avatar rachel September 24, 2013, 2:12 pm

Jackson is too cute. Wendy, I think you and Drew are great parents, and I hope Jackson calms down soon so you can breathe :)

I hope that parents don’t think I’m judging if I see their kid have a tantrum. I try to give a sympathetic smile and not stare or anything. I just am nosy by nature, so if I hear noise, I likely will look. But yeah, it’s hard being a toddler, I would be cranky too.

BriarRose BriarRose September 24, 2013, 2:15 pm

When my daughter was younger, the very rare “I’ve been there and I get it” comment from a fellow parent was a priceless joy to me. Most of the time it was usually just evil looks, because obviously I should have just abandoned my cart at the grocery store and come back later when she’s not crying.

It is exhausting and embarrassing, feeling like every eye is upon you while you try to calm down a child who can’t even fully communicate yet. I get it, Wendy.

Dear Wendy Wendy September 24, 2013, 2:22 pm

On the plane to st. louis last week, there was a family sitting in the row behind me with TWO kids under three (oy!). One of the kids kept kicking my seat and the poor mother was saying, “You’re bothering her! Please stop kicking.” And I turned around and said, “I’ve got a toddler at home, don’t worry about me. I know how it is!” She looked relieved (but not as relieved as I was to be traveling with no kids…).

BriarRose BriarRose September 24, 2013, 2:52 pm

I’m sure she’ll remember that for a long time! And hopefully pay it forward some day.

avatar Sara September 24, 2013, 4:01 pm

*This* is what my comment was trying to get at on Friday. I think this was a beautiful interaction. Here, Wendy and the parent both put themselves in the other person’s shoes: the parent acknowledged that her child’s behavior was adversely affecting someone else, and Wendy, without passing judgement, acknowledged that kids are kids (and, moreover, toddlers are toddlers).

Manders Mazie September 24, 2013, 2:18 pm

One of the most annoying comments I have heard since having a little boy 10 months ago is “well we have a puppy which is pretty much like having a kid.” Uhhhh. Not. Even. Close.

beelzebarb beelzebarb September 24, 2013, 2:26 pm

SERIOUSLY?? Omg, what a moron.

honeybeenicki honeybeenicki September 24, 2013, 2:31 pm

What, it’s not the same?! (kidding, kidding!) My dogs are much easier than kids of any age.

avatar lets_be_honest September 24, 2013, 2:32 pm

Hahaha, I wasn’t gonna be the one to say it.

avatar rachel September 24, 2013, 2:42 pm

Just for the record, if I ever say anything like that, I mean it as a joke. Because I just reserved a pet-sitter for a trip next month, and while it is annoying to have to pay $35 a day on top of all of my other travel expenses, I can, you know, just drop my dog off at someone’s house for 5 days, haha.

avatar lets_be_honest September 24, 2013, 2:49 pm

aww, I wasn’t referring to anyone on here! But I wasn’t gonna say it on here bc so many of you are animal lovers.

avatar rachel September 24, 2013, 2:56 pm

Haha, no, I didn’t think anyone necessarily was. But I wanted to put that out there, so people know that some of us know it’s obnoxious, but still think it’s funny sometimes. I don’t think I’d ever say it to the face of someone with an infant though, that’s just cruel.

theattack theattack September 24, 2013, 2:52 pm

I joke about it all the time too, Rachel. I NEVER mean it for real though.

iwannatalktosampson iwannatalktosampson September 24, 2013, 2:59 pm

Sorry I’m not sorry.

avatar lets_be_honest September 24, 2013, 3:10 pm

I love you.

Astronomer Astronomer September 24, 2013, 3:14 pm

I think people get confused when the love they have for their pets is, like, a billion times bigger than what they ever thought was possible. That’s the same feeling that new parents describe having for their kids, you know? But (big but) they don’t realize that loving a pet a billion isn’t like doing the same amount of work that parents of small children do.

For example, I love my cat Ben a billion. I would die in a knife fight for him. I would give him both my kidneys. I would save him before my husband in a house fire. I might love Ben with the same fierceness that some people love their children, but he doesn’t wear diapers or have tantrums or need supervision and entertainment 14 hours a day. He doesn’t have to stay on a certain nap schedule or have a babysitter if I want to go to the store without him.

So yeah, I understand the silly “pet parent” comments, even if they are kind of out there.

avatar kerrycontrary September 24, 2013, 3:55 pm

Yeh I actually get people saying “oh your dog is like a toddler” and I’m like “except I can leave her home alone while I go to work…and she doesn’t wear diapers…”. I mean there are some striking similarities like the amount of noise she can make, the fact that she gets cranky when she needs a nap and starts to nip me, or the fact that I can’t leave anything within her reach. But otherwise…not so much.

niki Niki September 24, 2013, 2:24 pm

Last night my toddler threw a tantrum because 1. While reading her the book SHE picked out, she was suddenly pissed it wasn’t a different book. 2. She needed her diaper changed. 3. She wasn’t getting a bath right.this.very.second. 3. She couldn’t play with her toothbrush in the living room. 4. She had to sit in timeout for hitting, pinching, and scratching me after taking her toothbrush away. 5. She didn’t want to get out of the bathtub. 6. She didn’t want to wear pajamas. 7. She wanted her bedtime milk right.this.very.second.

All of this happened in about an hour and a half time span. It is like this at some point in the day, every day. It’s exhausting. We’re good parents. We love our daughter fiercely. But they are people with minds of their own. We can’t control their every thought, emotion and action.

avatar lets_be_honest September 24, 2013, 2:35 pm

Clearly you’re a bad mom for not letting her play with the toothbrush in the living room. I mean, really.

niki Niki September 24, 2013, 3:18 pm

I’m the WORST! But I do let her play with knives, scissors and throwing stars. She’s a miniature ninja.

avatar Grilledcheesecalliope September 24, 2013, 4:41 pm

That’s the weirdest thing to me about kids. That they have wants, and thoughts. It kind of creeps me out.

beelzebarb beelzebarb September 24, 2013, 2:25 pm

I completely agree. Every toddler I’ve ever known, and I’ve known quite a few, had tantrums. Some of them would detonate more often and more easily than others but still, they ALL do. I don’t know why people think that it’s the result of bad parenting. Hell, my friend has two kids and when the older one was a toddler, he was like Wendy’s description of Jackson. Her younger one is a toddler now, and he’s a lot calmer. He goes apeshit in public but it’s pretty rare. If it comes down to parenting, how come the same parents can have one tantrum-y kid and one mellow kid? When I see kids flipping out at the grocery store, I just feel bad for them because obviously they feel crappy, even if it’s for no good reason. Well, unless I’m tired and cranky. Then I’m jealous because I can’t throw myself on the ground and cry and pound my fists on the floor without being taken away and thrown into a padded room. I also feel bad for their harried parent(s) who almost always look over at me with an expression that indicates a) that they are tired and exasperated, and b) that they are expecting a judgmental glare from me. Wendy, I don’t have kids, so I can only imagine how hard it is to spend the bulk of your day cooped up with a moody little person who only has a very rudimentary grasp of the English language. I admire your ability to do it and still remain (relatively) sane. You and Drew are great parents, and Jackson will turn into a smart, funny, and caring dude. He’s already got the super-cute thing locked down :)

Jessibel5 Jessibel5 September 24, 2013, 3:14 pm

According to Wendy he’s also already got the “thank you” thing locked down too, which is a huge win already! More adults need to say that!

avatar snoopy128 September 25, 2013, 12:43 am

Totally agree.
I am one of those creepy smilers. I think tantrums are hilarious because they are rarely logical and can rarely be stopped. So I smile, give the parents a sympathetic nod, and carry on. Sometimes, I wish I could join them. Especially after a long day of working with children and watching them meltdown.

Funny enough, my job this summer involved being ‘on call’ for any behavioural incidents at summer camps. Every time I heard a child scream or cry at work, I’d rush out of my office and look around to figure out the cause (and if it was my problem to deal with). My coworkers and I would laugh since most people would do the opposite.

Anyways, toddlers are crazy and I empathize for them. They can’t express what they want well, and often they don’t even know what they want or how to figure out what their body is telling them. No impulse control, disorganized thought patterns; imagine if that was your brain. That’s my biggest thing- imagine if all of that was going on in your brain. Parenting them is hard, and so you just enjoy the good and remember the ‘bad’ will pass.

avatar Emily September 24, 2013, 2:31 pm

Aw, Elmo shirt. SO CUTE. You’re doing great job and I am glad you know that! It is HARD and I am not a parent but when I spend time with toddlers (four days a week lately) I am WIPED OUT by the time I come home… and I know how I am lucky (in some ways) because I get to leave them with their parents! Peace out, buddies! Anyway, you rock. I love you.

Dear Wendy Wendy September 24, 2013, 2:49 pm

Right back atcha.

honeybeenicki honeybeenicki September 24, 2013, 2:31 pm

I have a question for all of the parents of toddlers. I mean, I’m a (step)parent, but I didn’t get to experience the toddler years as the kids were 5 and 7 when their dad and I met. I won’t even pretend to have any idea what it’s like to parent a small child (even though I “practically raised” my younger siblings… I know it’s not even close to the same) When I see a kid throwing a tantrum I rarely assume it’s bad parenting. More likely, I feel bad for the parent who is probably exhausted and frustrated and embarrassed.

So my question really is – is it ok to offer help? Sometimes I just want to stop and ask if they need anything or if I can help, but I don’t know if that’s ok. I don’t know if it would embarrass them more.

Dear Wendy Wendy September 24, 2013, 2:38 pm

I think a simple, “Do you need a hand with anything?” is nice if only because it conveys compassion and sometimes that is all a parent needs to get through the next five or ten minutes, you know?

honeybeenicki honeybeenicki September 24, 2013, 4:17 pm

Then that’s what I’ll do. And hopefully when I’m lucky(?) enough to have my own toddler having a meltdown, someone else will do the same for me.

avatar tbrucemom September 24, 2013, 2:31 pm

I hate to tell Wendy that 3 is worse than 2. I’m going to get grief for this but sometimes children need a spanking. I’m not talking about abuse so don’t go there. Part of the problem is parents today are afraid to spank their children because they think they’ll get in trouble with social services and unfortunately sometimes they’re correct. I spanked my 18 year old daughter who has a full academic scholorship and my 27 year old son who served in the Marine Corps and is now married and a great stepdad, both turned out great. My sister and I were spanked and guess what we turned out great too. None of us has been in trouble with the law, have trouble with alcohol or drugs, we’re gainfully employed and are a very loving family.

avatar lets_be_honest September 24, 2013, 2:37 pm

I’m surprised your 18 y.o and 27 y.o still are ok with you spanking them. (that is exactly how I read it, haha) ;)

honeybeenicki honeybeenicki September 24, 2013, 2:45 pm

I read it that way too. My mom always tells me I’m not too old for spanking. And I was only spanked once as a child (apparently running out in front of a UPS truck is bad), so it’s funny that she’d threaten me with it as an adult.

beelzebarb beelzebarb September 24, 2013, 2:45 pm

LOL! Me too! Sorry tbruce, I’m not trying to give you crap or anything.

avatar kerrycontrary September 24, 2013, 2:38 pm

I’m not opposed to spanking, but I will saying that 4 people isn’t exactly hard evidence that spanking=your child will be successful.

theattack theattack September 24, 2013, 2:49 pm

For real. I will never understand the argument that we need to go back to spanking because kids were better back when they got spankings. Pretty sure every generation has turned out criminals, lunatics, and model citizens.

avatar Nadine September 24, 2013, 3:44 pm

Totally. My parents were hardcore anti-smacking (spanking just sounds kinky to my non-American ear hehe) and their three kids have never had any trouble with the law, are married, homeowners etc. Anecdata!

Skyblossom Skyblossom September 25, 2013, 6:22 pm

Kids need consistent discipline, discipline that is enforced immediately when they do things they shouldn’t but I don’t think you ever actually have to spank. At the age of two I think the main message a toddler gets from a spanking is that you hit people to make them quit doing things you don’t like which is only going to get that child into trouble when they go to preschool and try hitting the other kids whenever they don’t like what the other kids are doing.

If you’re wondering I’m the parent of two kids, one 22 and one 13 and I never spanked either of them and they are well behaved and we get compliments on how nice they are.

avatar TheOtherOtherMe September 24, 2013, 2:34 pm

If anyone thinks that irrational toddlers are somehow the product of bad parents, they are really delusional. Toddlers flip out for the flimsiest of reasons. Mostly because they are still learning how to process their emotions and how to handle delayed gratification. It’s a DEVELOPMENTAL STAGE, people. If you need proof, check out this website: http://www.reasonsmysoniscrying.com/

avatar Bunnycsp September 24, 2013, 3:46 pm

love that blog!

Moneypenny Moneypenny September 24, 2013, 2:34 pm

I’m not a parent so I really can’t fully understand what it’s like, but I do sympathize when I see a meltdown happening. I am amazed at the lungpower that kids have! I sometimes think that when a toddler has a tantrum in public, people feel they have a right to judge or make comments (to you or to themselves) since it’s happening out in the open in, well, public. Some people I know have zero tolerance for little kids, and I can’t help but wonder if they were a perfect child themselves? We’ve all been toddlers ourselves once!

iwannatalktosampson iwannatalktosampson September 24, 2013, 2:44 pm

Yeah I don’t understand the judgment and I don’t have kids and don’t particularly love the sound of screaming (but does anyone? Surely parents hate it too). I ALWAYS smile when parents look mortified about their kid crying in public. I hope it’s not a creepy smile but an understanding smile. It actually hurts my heart to think of all these parents that are just mortified. It’s a toddler! What do you expect? Toddlers are like little drunk assholes. You can’t reason with them and everything is about them. But on the days it’s not driving you crazy it is kind of hilarious to watch what they flip out about. I am totally going to be that parent that is up late at night drinking wine after they’ve gone to bed and making fun of them behind their backs.

avatar lets_be_honest September 24, 2013, 3:04 pm

Lil heard us the other night doing just that. Yes, I know, I suck.
She’s at the stage where every person anywhere near her age range she either says she knows, or says she might know them. Anyone experience this? For instance, passing a pack of teenagers in the car. Lil shouts “Oh, I know him. Went to my camp” but says it as though it makes her cool or something. So the other night Peter said ‘I know that guy,’ and I go ‘who are you? Lil? My name’s Lil and I know everyone. I know him. I know her. I know all of them’ And she heard me. Shouts ‘HEY that’s not nice MOOOOM’ from her room.

iwannatalktosampson iwannatalktosampson September 24, 2013, 3:05 pm

hahaha that’s awesome. I am going to teach my kids how fun it is to make fun of themselves, each other, strangers, everyone. Also how to not take anything anyone else says seriously, including their own thoughts sometimes.

theattack theattack September 24, 2013, 2:46 pm

But being a toddler once doesn’t have anything to do with tolerating little kids. I hate nothing more than a screaming toddler. Nothing. I know it’s not the kid’s fault. I know the parents aren’t doing anything wrong. I know it’s natural. It doesn’t mean that I like to hear ugly crying and screaming when I’m trying to enjoy my alone time shopping or when I have a migraine and just want to get home and go to bed. It’s pretty natural to be annoyed by that. What matters is what we choose to say or do about it.

Jessibel5 Jessibel5 September 24, 2013, 3:08 pm

I love how you put that. I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again, because it’s what I thought when I read your last sentence: As my favorite cinematic bouncer says “Be. Nice.”

muchachaenlaventana muchachaenlaventana September 24, 2013, 3:26 pm

Yeah I agree with this 1000% and was trying to write it out in such a nice way. It really grates on my nerves A LOT but when I see a toddler in the throes of a meltdown in public I have nothing but sympathy for both them and their child. I mean it breaks my heart and I inevitably do a weird eye contact and half smile trying to convey my understanding and non-nonjudgmental.

Moneypenny Moneypenny September 24, 2013, 3:29 pm

I do see what you’re saying. And yeah, I do feel annoyed sometimes when I see/hear tantrum-ing kids. But at least for me (not saying this goes for everyone, and clearly you feel differently!), knowing that, well, I’ve been that kid once, or that almost everyone has been that kid once, helps put it in perspective. And when I do that, it bothers me less and I move on.

muchachaenlaventana muchachaenlaventana September 24, 2013, 3:45 pm

yeah it doesn’t bother me in like a visceral or prolonged way and i guess what gets me more is when parents are completely unaware of their patently misbehaving and disruptive children (like 4-5+) and do nothing to correct or stop those actions (in public places), but again that’s a completely different scenario from a toddler tantrum. the sound gets to me but then i get over it because i have so much respect for moms/dads/the people who deal with that and can only imagine how incredibly hard it is and yeah have no clue how i would ever have that patience.

avatar Addie Pray September 24, 2013, 2:40 pm

I would just like to pat myself on the back here for NEVER EVER giving the evil eye – or any sort of “hey, you, shut your kid of” eye – to a parent, whether at a restaurant, on a plane, at a store… YOU’RE WELCOME, PARENTS! I think it’s because I just love kids that much and I’ve seen a LOT of tantrums from babysitting and in my role as Cooliest Aunt Ever, so I just expect tantrums from time to time.

Ok, I’m done bragging about that.

Also, Wendy is full of shit – I have met Jackson and in those few minutes he was an absolute angel, the sweetest pea, and he didn’t fuss when I stole 5 kisses. … Though I get it: that doesn’t mean he didn’t have a tantrum later on. It happens.

avatar Addie Pray September 24, 2013, 2:48 pm

I would bet most of the people who give the evil eye just don’t like kids or noise or chaos. And it’s less about judging the parent’s parenting as it is just expressing annoyance that they’re little quiet bubble got pierced. And then there’s the judgmental types. I can’t help but think those people go through life slighly miserable. I mean if they can’t make it through a store without getting annoyed and judgy about some stranger’s parenting skills, then how the hell to the handle real people in their actual lives and whatever things THEY have going on – I’m sure it’s more annoyance and judginess. That’s got to be an exhausting way to go about life.

theattack theattack September 24, 2013, 2:51 pm

“I would bet most of the people who give the evil eye just don’t like kids or noise or chaos. And it’s less about judging the parent’s parenting as it is just expressing annoyance that they’re little quiet bubble got pierced.”

Yes! (I don’t give evil eyes to parents though, except on the rare occasion that someone actually is doing something really terrible.)

avatar GatorGirl September 24, 2013, 3:05 pm

Did I tell you about the mother I witnessed at Kohls yelling at her probably 6 year old for misbehaving and threatening to send the kid to foster care if they kept acting that way. I was baffled. (It also was after 9pm on a school night.)

theattack theattack September 24, 2013, 3:08 pm

Ugh, that is terrible. I know the whole point of this piece is to not judge parents and all that jazz, but I would definitely judge someone for threatening to send their kid to foster care. That’s just terrible and unloving. (Plus you can’t just send your kid to foster care, duh.)

avatar GatorGirl September 24, 2013, 3:17 pm

LBH, she was serious. And my posts the other day where after a particularly trying few days at Kohls where there was bad parenting examples all over the place. I do try so very hard not to judge parents, I know it’s a hard job and there is judgments coming from so many places (and I know judgments are coming from my MIL about my more alternative choices I plan on going with). But when I see things like that, my heart aches for the kid. I want to cuddle the toddler who is screaming at 10pm on a Tuesday exhausted while their mom shops. I’m terrified the toddler racing through the isles is going to trip and injure themselves (like my brother who was a millimeter away from loosing his eye at Dress Barn did). I want to teach my cousin that screaming VAGINA repeatedly in a restaurant isn’t appropriate and it makes her look like a wild thing. Blah.

I think that’s what fueled my posts the other day, it wasn’t judgment of parents, but wishing all kids could have great parents.

avatar lets_be_honest September 24, 2013, 3:25 pm

That’s messed up!! I heard someone threaten to beat their kid in the grocery store once and then she shouted to everyone who obviously heard her ‘and i’ll bounce before the cops show up here!’ I wanted to kidnap that poor kid.

avatar GatorGirl September 24, 2013, 3:26 pm

Oh yes, I can’t count how many times I’ve heard “If you don’t stop you’re getting a beating when we get home!” usually for things like “mom I’m bored can we go.” It’s just really hard to be around so often.

theattack theattack September 24, 2013, 3:27 pm

I remember you telling us about that before. That is so messed up. I would get in the car and follow that bitch until the cops showed up. Really though the cops probably can’t do much unless she actually did hit the kids. :(

theattack theattack September 24, 2013, 3:28 pm

Please just pretend those verb tenses agree, mkay?

beelzebarb beelzebarb September 24, 2013, 3:33 pm

I hate it when I notice that I used bad grammar right after I click the send button!

EscapeHatches EscapeHatches September 24, 2013, 4:25 pm

We threaten to sell my stepson on the regular. Then again, tinkers/gypsies/child-stealers/etc. aren’t as common as they once were.

He’s been lucky… so far.

avatar lets_be_honest September 24, 2013, 3:09 pm

Was she serious? I’ve totally said I’m returning you to the store I bought you from, joking obviously.

theattack theattack September 24, 2013, 3:12 pm

That’s just funny though because she obviously knows you didn’t buy her from the store.

avatar lets_be_honest September 24, 2013, 3:20 pm

Meh, I got my sisters to believe they were both once chickens or wooden dolls, respectively. haha.

Jessibel5 Jessibel5 September 24, 2013, 3:21 pm

Chuckles and I joke all the time that once they get old enough to have opinions, they’re gone. I would never actually say that to my kid though! The trauma and therapy that will bring…geez!

avatar Addie Pray September 24, 2013, 3:08 pm

And I guess I should add that I’m not defending those people; it’s annoying when people get annoyed so easily – especially about a toddly that can’t help it! But I also like noise and chaos so I just don’t get it. But, I really do bet most of the evil eyes are just annoying people who are annoyed…. And to that I think, well shit, if a wittle baby who can’t control himself is annoying, then I’d bet a SHIT TON of stuff in life is annoying – always a miserable way to be in life, constantly annoyed. Being judgy and annoyed by others just sounds like an exhausting/miserable way to go about ilfe. You know?

avatar Addie Pray September 24, 2013, 3:10 pm

it’s annoying to be annoyed by annoying people who are annoyed about annoying people…. did you get all that?

theattack theattack September 24, 2013, 3:11 pm

Okay, cool, so I’m annoying and judgy and miserable in life. Awesome. Thanks. Still doesn’t make screaming a pleasant thing to deal with for anyone.

avatar Addie Pray September 24, 2013, 3:18 pm

oh shit, were you in the “i get annoyed when babies scream in public” camp? sorry I didn’t read carefully. i wasn’t slamming you. unless, well, lots of things annoy you daily, so much so that you’re rolling your eyes at people – that does sound like a miserable way to go about life. But that doesn’t sound like you so don’t take that statement personally.

avatar Addie Pray September 24, 2013, 3:22 pm

wait i just re-read what you wrote. you didn’t say anything. but you know yourself. if things annoy you easily then yes that does sound miserable. and if you’re judgy about everyone around you, that does sound like an exhausting and miserable way to go about life. … but knowing you as well as i can from DW and FB, that really doesn’t sound like you!

theattack theattack September 24, 2013, 3:23 pm

Oh, sorry. I posted the comment saying I hated it so much in a different place. Thought it was here.

theattack theattack September 24, 2013, 3:22 pm

It’s fine. Glad you didn’t mean it that way. It just came across as you calling me that when you said that in a reply to me saying I hated it. No offense taken then.

But yeah, screaming kids are my pet peeve. Nothing pisses me off more. Literally nothing. Ever. I don’t give dirty looks about it, except at older kids who misbehave when their parents aren’t watching, and I’m not annoyed by all that much, but screaming kids can ruin my afternoon faster than anything.

avatar Addie Pray September 24, 2013, 3:37 pm

no i get it. it’s not like a baby’s cries is music to my ears; for whatever reason hearing it two aisles over in grocery store doesn’t bother me. and i guess it’b ecause i know the baby can’t help it and the parent can’t control it. i also don’t get annoyed when people have coughing fits or turrets or the shakes or whatever. Smacking gum annoys the crap out of me. As do the word “hubby”” and wedding rules as we all know – so yea I have my own issues. Ha.

muchachaenlaventana muchachaenlaventana September 24, 2013, 4:29 pm

I was in that camp. However, there is a huge different between getting annoyed and being judgey. Judgey people are usually dicks, most people who get annoyed never act on that annoyance except internally. Do I sometimes get annoyed when a child is crying nonstop while I am out at a nice dinner, because its not a pleasant sound or I can’t carry on a conversation, yes but I keep that to myself and get over it about 30 seconds later. Personally though I think I am allowed to get annoyed at it and not feel bad about it. Different things annoy different people and people shouldn’t be judged on what gets their dander up as long as they don’t act like dicks based off of it.

Fabelle Fabelle September 24, 2013, 3:14 pm

Yeah, I definitely think most of the evil-eye givers are like you described (annoyed someone pierced their quiet bubble). I’ve been out with people before who are like, “ugh, that loud kid” & I’ll be like, “What even are you talking about?” because I don’t really hear it, like I don’t mind noises if I’m out in public? It’s like a bustling chaos, & that’s cool. If there is a kid hitting particularly high, screechy notes, of course I will cringe a little inside, but I never judge the parents.

iwannatalktosampson iwannatalktosampson September 24, 2013, 3:22 pm

I also think it’s weird that people think they’re entitled to peace and quiet in public. What? You’re in PUBLIC. Not your house. You are out around people – people are loud. You aren’t entitled to shit.

Moneypenny Moneypenny September 24, 2013, 3:32 pm

I know right?? If you hate noise, then stay home. Out in public all bets are off!

theattack theattack September 24, 2013, 3:37 pm

How realistic is that? If I hate noise, I’m supposed to be a subsistence farmer and a knitter so I never have to go to the store or to work? Or people in cities never have to use transportation to get somewhere?

I agree that people aren’t entitled to quietness, but no one can realistically just stay home. As long as they’re not cranky Scrooges about how annoyed they are, no big deal.

avatar lets_be_honest September 24, 2013, 3:41 pm

I think the point is is that if you hate noise, just accept that noise will always be there.

Moneypenny Moneypenny September 24, 2013, 4:10 pm

Yes! That’s what I was getting at. :)

iwannatalktosampson iwannatalktosampson September 24, 2013, 3:43 pm

No I think in that case you need to understand that it’s your issue and not the babies or the parents fault. So instead of saying I hate when babies cry in public acknowledge that you don’t like noise in public and are kinda a grouchy old lady about it. Which is fine, I am a super grouchy old lady about people walking slowly in the grocery store. I can hammer out a $100 grocery trip in like 20 minutes flat. Why you be walking so fing slow in front of me? Why you gotta park your cart in the MIDDLE of the aisle, in an effort to be as big of a dick as possible. See? My issue.

theattack theattack September 24, 2013, 3:48 pm

I agree completely. I really hate screaming babies, but I’m not saying it’s their fault or the parents’ fault. I’m just saying that it’s okay to hate hearing babies scream as long as you’re not a dick about it.

iwannatalktosampson iwannatalktosampson September 24, 2013, 3:54 pm

Yeah I can agree with that.

avatar Addie Pray September 24, 2013, 3:56 pm

yea i can agree with that too.

Fabelle Fabelle September 24, 2013, 4:02 pm

Oh god, I’m so with you on the walking slow thing. That’s the one thing that annoys me about being out in public with people (& grocery stores especially). I am on a fucking MISSION when I’m at the grocery store, like walking at running speed, so if anybody is not on my level, they need to GTFO of the way. haha

avatar Addie Pray September 24, 2013, 3:33 pm


Jess Jess September 24, 2013, 2:47 pm

Great post Wendy!!!!!! As everyone here knows, we are still trying after last year’s loss. And even thought we don’t have our child yet, I find that I relate to parents of young children automatically.

Humble-brag aside, when I see a toddler tantrum in public I definitely find it annoying and try to get away from the noise as fast as possible but, mostly I just pity the parent and I really cringe trying to imagine how I will handle that. I am someone who revels in anonymity in public. I like a low profile and to go about my food shopping with minimal interaction with strangers. The idea of managing a toddler tantrum and side eyes?? Ugh. I am going to have to grow some THICK skin.

Jessibel5 Jessibel5 September 24, 2013, 3:03 pm

I feel the same way. Don’t blame the parent, but you don’t have to like the situation. If you can, get out of there, but don’t throw the side eye. If you’re annoyed by it, you’re the one who can more likely finish your shopping more quickly and peace out, not the mom with the dead weight of a kid who is throwing a tantrum. The store is not “yours” so you don’t get to judge what type of behavior is allowed in it.

I say dead weight because my mom tells me that I used to go boneless in public if I was throwing a tantrum. For her it was either drag me around by an arm or leg, or just ignore me and leave me where I was. She would usually go into another aisle and leave me in the original aisle. She said I always stopped throwing the tantrum, would get up off the floor and find her, and then lay back down in front of her and start pitching a fit again. Apparently I was a manipulative little sh*t when I was a toddler! :)

avatar lets_be_honest September 24, 2013, 3:14 pm

The store is not “yours” so you don’t get to judge what type of behavior is allowed in it.

LOVE THIS! Same for restaurants.