Monday, June 6, 2011

Angela's War Story

I am so excited to have Angela from Tiaras and Trucks share her War Story today.  She has become another one of my must reads.

She is also from Michigan, so of course she gets major points for that :)

I first read Angela's blog when I was linking up with The Red Dress Club.  She was participating in the prompts and I am always blown away with how she interprets them.

So without further ado....

Here's Angela's War Story.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Our plans were simple and lovely: meet our friends at the zoo, run rampant along the paths, slow down for a few moments to look at the animals, picnic outside in the sunshine. The forecast was perfect: warm and cloudless after a long, cold, grey winter. 

It wasn’t the weatherman’s job to predict the storm brewing in my living room, but I would have appreciated the warning. 

Like those first few raindrops that leave you looking into the sky, wondering if you’re feeling things, the stand-off started innocently enough. 

“Let’s put on our shoes and go to the zoo,” I said, starting our out-the-door process with time to spare. Barely three, Abbey couldn’t be bothered to have mommy help with zippers or shoes. 

My first call to action was pointedly ignored. 

“It’s time to go to the zoo!” I tried again, handing her favorite shoes to her. 

“I’ll do it!” 

Already well-versed in her stubborn independence, I calmly put on Dylan’s shoes, while Abbey quickly tried, and failed, to pull on her shoes without unstrapping the Velcro. 

I let her struggle for a few moments before offering help that was quickly and loudly refused. Calmly, I zippered Dylan’s coat, suggesting she unstrap them before pulling them on her feet. 

“Mommy! Help!” 

I walked over to where she was now prone on the floor, her little face frustrated. As I bent to help, her legs shot outward. 

“No! I’ll do it!” 

A little less calmly, I walked away, straightening a few things in my neatly packed diaper bag. 

“Mommy. Help! Me!” 

Her face was now turning red from her unrewarded effort as I attempted to slide a shoe over her striped sock. 

“I. Want. To. Do. It!” 

This time, her flailing legs connected with my arm, and I reminded her that kicking was not acceptable. Against my will, my own frustration level was rising, but I allowed her to continue on her shoe quest. 


For the fourth time, I tried to help, and for the fourth time, she protested. 

“If you don’t let me help you with your shoes, we’re not going to be able to go to the zoo,” I said, testily, regretting my words almost instantly. 

“No!” she yelled, pulling a shoe out of my hand and tossing it away from the two of us. 

Trying to give her one more chance, I offered: “Honey, you need to wear shoes to the zoo. Let’s put them on. If we don’t put on your shoes now, we can’t go to the zoo.” 

The other shoe flew across the room. 

We didn’t go to the zoo, even though she cried when she calmed down and realized I meant my words. I cried, privately in the bathroom, both because I felt terribly mean and because I realized that giving an ultimatum to a stubborn three-year old wasn’t logical parenting. 

That ultimatum taught me more of a lesson than it taught her. It might be tough to miss a zoo trip with friends, but it’s even tougher to feel like you aren’t in control of your world, even when you’re only three. 

Although she talked for the rest of the day about not being able to go to the zoo, her frustrated behavior didn’t disappear. With a little trial and error, and no more ultimatums, I’ve discovered walking away for a little, then gently talking about how I’ll help while helping allows her to feel more in control of her situation, and her frustration dissipates much more quickly. 

We haven’t had to miss another zoo trip.

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Thanks Angela for your wonderful story!  Go check out Tiaras and Trucks!  You can also follow Angela on Twitter.

Want to share your War Story?  Email me at spreadalittlethin (at) hotmail (dot) com.


  1. Ah, poor Angela.  Having to stick to your guns is so HARD.  I never through any fits as a kids - except when it came to my shoes.  I couldn't put them on if the seam at the toe of my sock wasn't resting PERFECTLY on the top of my toes.  It would turn me in to satan if it wasn't right.  What is it with girls and their shoes???  :-)

  2. That's so tough. I'm the ultimatum queen and I never follow through - which is terrible of me. My husband keeps telling me I need to stop or actually do what I say I'm going to do. My son has figured it out now - when I tell him I'm going to take something away, he just says "ok, I don't need it anymore anyways." Oh my gosh!

  3. This is one of the biggest parenting fears I have - that I'll spout off an ultimatum before really thinking it through, and then have to stick to it. Good for you for canceling the zoo trip, and for learning how to prevent a repeat of that scenario. 

  4. What a brave mommy! I am so weak and my husband hates when I give in. I hate it too and really need to work on it, for the sake of my children,. They need consequences now and they thrive on rules.

  5. Amy, thank you for letting me share this here!  It was definitely not my best moment, but I learned a lot from it.  (Like not to threaten to take away something I really want to do, LOL!)

  6. I honestly thought she would cave!  She LOVES the zoo.  I was so sad to have to do it, because I was looking forward to the outing so much.  I'm just lucky Dylan was little enough to not know the difference!

  7. I don't know if I am brave; I just learned that it's not something that worked for us (the ultimatum).  I hated taking away something fun that was out of proportion to the situation, but I said it and felt like I had to follow through :(

  8. One of my friends once said, "If you don't put your toys away, they're all going in the basement!" and then regretted it, because it made her life harder for a few days.  It's one of those stories that is funny because I didn't have to do it.

  9. I am so not tough, but I'm learning :)  That is a funny thing about your socks.  Abbey has lots with the size/no-skid stuff on the bottom and does NOT like if it migrates to the top of her feet .

  10. Whew Momma, you are one brave soldier...I would have given in. Yup, I do not own a pair of steal balls. My kid rules the roost around here. I hope he doesn't know it.

  11. Angela, this is a great post! I love how you broached the balance between showing them we mean our words and supporting them while they navigate their world! it's just so...hard some days, isn't it? Sounds like you handled it beautifully! As if there was ever any doubt! XO

    Fab guester Amy! XO

  12. What a great lesson, but such a yucky way to learn it. I hate disciplining 3 yr olds, seriously it's always hit or miss and one of us always loses. I will keep this post in mind the next time I feel my patience slipping and my voice climbing. Thank u!

  13. I always give ultimatums but never follow through.  I think I need to man-up or my kids are going to be walking all over me!


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