We intend to survive the week via frozen food and television
Where is Anne Lamott when you need a good pep talk?

He is not the boss of me

I had a really rough day with Jack.

Well. I've just been sitting here staring at that sentence, wondering where to go with it. OH THE PLACES WE COULD GO. But I just feel spent. And sort of like this topic has been driven into the dirt, and everyone has given me their two cents and while I appreciate it, there is no two cents specifically catered to the combination that is my cheerfully disobedient kid and my set of parenting flaws and I just end up feeling even MORE like everyone else knows better than me. That everyone else has it figured out. That anyone else would have this kid straightened out in a snap and when they look at me they're just biting their tongues and rolling their eyes. 

Which is to say that I'm tremendously insecure (NEWSFLASH!) On the other hand, I really do think, I mean, I REALLY REALLY DO THINK that I am doing my best. I even think I've improved. I'm WAY more consistent, from which battles I pick to how I respond. And it's been a long time since Phillip and I argued over our drastically different 'styles', because we talked it to death and found solutions we could both live with. That's been huge. 

But I am still routinely and cheerfully ignored by a preschooler, which I find infuriating, embarrassing, baffling and beyond frustrating. Cleaning up is one of our biggest power struggles. This morning we visited friends and when I asked him to help clean up the bedroom - we were in the living room and I was changing Molly's diaper on the floor - he flat out refused, danced around the room, whimpered, whined, ran away from me. And then, when I threatened him with his life or no computer at quiet time (I can't remember which) he walked verrrrrrry sloooooowly to the bedroom and then I'm 99.9% sure he didn't help once he arrived. He probably just stood there looking obstinate and superior, calculating the mortification he was causing his mother with every not-helping second. 

Stuff like that - I don't know what to do. 

Or what about when I tell him to do (or not to do) something, so he goes and asks my mom or my friend or my sister instead. Within earshot of me. When they've already heard me tell him yes or no. I just want to die. 

I had a handful of depressing-ish topics for tonight - I can't believe I went with this one. Again. You are probably all tapping out a GROW A SPINE comment with your left hand and unsubscribing with your right. 

You know what else annoyed me today? My in-laws came over in the afternoon so I decided to get my run in then instead of waiting till the kids were in bed. But I couldn't eject last night's Foyle's War DVD from my laptop. My computer just wouldn't spit it out. I got tired of that, so I decided to just watch Parenthood on Hulu. But then 1) my computer crashed, I think from all the DVD annoyance and then 2) on the second try the screen blacked out after the first commercial. But I was still determined to get my run in. So I tried again. And then I had to watch yet another episode of Parenthood where I hate all the characters except Amber WHY DO I KEEP WATCHING THAT SHOW. SHUT UP, KRISTINA!


We went to dinner at a Chain Restaurant where the burgers are as big as your face and Jack eats half a French fry and FIL frets over Jack's starvation diet and MIL micromanages every bite. Except tonight Jack ate the carrot sticks they give the little kids as an appetizer. HE ATE A CARROT. And then he shoveled in his macaroni at a speed heretofore unthinkable, and MIL was so amused by my astonishment she took a picture. 

And when we got home we put on our pajamas, treated ourselves to some iced animal cookies and played a couple rounds of giant toddler dominoes. All three of us, on the floor in the living room, counting and matching and then driving Matchbox cars along our domino train. I asked Jack to clean up the dominoes, just once, and he said, "Okay Mommy."  

Bedtime was a cinch. 

Jack was out within seconds. Molly? She's still talking to herself in bed, and every so often hollering for me to come and, in no particular order: find Halloween book, want covers, want passo, want moozik, want Fassy Nassy books, not this covers want pink covers, fix blankie Mommy, want kiss and hug. Tomorrow night I'll have to lace her animal cookies with Benadryl. 




I can't figure out why I like Parenthood (the show!) so much either, since I routinely want to wring the necks of everyone on it.

And I've figured out the secret to kids: they're just hard. You can say it's the age, or a phase, or a stage...whatever, they're just difficult. Sometimes the best we can do is put them to bed early and self-medicate with chocolate and/or an adult beverage.

Jennifer H

Hang in there :)
My son always asks another adult when I say "No" to something, too. I don't really think its disobedience as much as 3-year-old logic: "I have a problem, mommy didn't solve it, I will ask another adult". I find it mildly annoying, but it doesn't embarrass me.


I have a nine year old and a three year old. The three year old is going through the same phase as Jack. I hope it ends quickly. He used to be so cheerful and helpful and now it is painful to get him to follow any direction. Not to mention that he has decided to skip dinner, even when it is something he used to love. I start off doing all the "right things" discipline wise. By the end of the day, I am frustrated and yelling. Yes, we know how we should handle it but we are human and boy, can they wear us down! My husband is away for work too so I am already planning early bedtime. Luckily, my 9 year old likes to read in bed so he's ok going in early too.
Hang in there!


Your Jack and my Olivia must have been separated at birth. We experience the exact same defiant episodes. Your description is scary...it is SO CLOSE to some of the struggles we've had. I feel your pain. And I have no advice except to pray it is a phase and keep plugging on. That's what we are doing.


It is harder when they are younger because the consequence has to be pretty immediate and sometimes they don't care about time out or going home...that's what they wanted anyway! He is so close to being old enough to take away "future, non immediate" things. This was such a breakthrough w my oldest. Going to bed at the same time or even (gasp) earlier than his younger brothers because of his attitude (if you are that cranky you must not have gotten enough sleep last night!) works wonders because it is something he really cares about. Once you figure out what that thing is that they really care about, you've got them! My 5yr old was so excited when my parents gave us a wii for Christmas last year, but not as excited as I was. It's almost too easy...he only gets to play on weekends and the threat of losing one of those days! (the early bedtime threat does not work on him at all!). My almost 2 yr old...well not much works on him except picking him up and moving him away from whatever it is I don't want him to be doing. If I tell him "no" he just smiles at me, says "no, na-nu, no" and keeps right on doing it. We will get there eventually, and you will too!


a) I hate Kristina. Hate.
b) Funny, my chirpy I-know-everything-there-is-to-know-ever-on-the-face-of-the-planet advice totally involved Benadryl-laced sweets and industrial strength earplugs. There are apparently "laws" about this and silly "principles" people like to uphold. Pshaw. Chin up, Cheung. Depending on how you look at it, the week is almost done.


Kids are hard. It isn't just you.


I remember when Carter was three. I hated three. I only have one child because I NEVER want a three year old again. It caused me so much stress and embarrassment.


It isn't just you. And this post reminds me that it isn't just me, either! We've had quite a bit of defiance lately, too and I'm ready to scream.


Rough day, yes. I am there. Spent is the right word.


Keep your head up Maggie! Look at you sticking to your running routine - despite above mentioned obstacles. Keep it up! For me, excercise is an essential component to remaining level headed.

You are not alone in the embarrassment department.
Just today I came home with a load a groceries, only to here cries for help coming from the living room. Imagine my utter HORROR when I rounded the corner to find my 4 and 2 year olds trying to wrestle?/hang?/pull? on my EIGHTY year old grandma. (This would be the angel of a woman who drives across town just so I can go grocery shopping in peace.) And, no matter what I said (STOP!!!) both my girls kept a tight hold on great grandma's dainty 5 foot, 100lb. frame. I had to physcially peel my kids arms off of her. MY GOD!

Life of a Doctor's Wife

I love Parenthood, but I have to admit I hate almost everyone too. Except Crosby and Amber and a little bit Julia.

But I hate EVERYONE on Mad Men, and I am addicted to that. So clearly I am crazy and illogical.

Sorry to hear yesterday was rough. I hope today was/is much better.


Ethan has started talking back and saying no to everything and it's so irritating. So I feel you.

I have no helpful advice- just wanted to say that I was reading this post and Ethan is next to me at the computer and he saw the picture of Jack and Molly at the top and said "Mommy! Boy's friends!" It was cute :)


You know what? I've been reading your blog for an entire year and never left a comment before. Not that there's a problem with your blog or you; it's just that I'm from another country, one that doesn't have English as official language, by the way. So, you see, I really like your blog, but always saw big differences between our lives,and thought I didn't have much to add (I have just one kid, younger than yours).

Today, however, I read your post and related to it deeply. My little boy is a great kid most of the time, like yours are too, but I often have this same feeling you shared, the sensation either I'm doing something wrong or my son has some kind of problem, because he's just not perfect as other moms (and blogs) speak of their children. And that's awful, right?

Anyway, I guess it's just the kind of people we are: overthinkers. I try to appreciate everything motherhood throws at me, and I'm sure you do too (biggest clue: this blog!). I'm far from perfect, and I guess is really unfair that this big world out there keeps making us feel guilty because we cant achieve the impossible, a.k.a., perfect mom. I mean, if there were so many perfect parents out there, the world would be a very different place, right?

Marie Green

Dood... we all have power struggles like this with our first. I so totally was there, SO TOTALLY. I think the longer we parent, the more we a)chillax and b) stop thinking our kids are a reflection of ourselves. I mean, my 7 year old picks dry skin off her foot and EATS IT and I'll be DAMNED if that's a reflection of ME. ;)

Really, if my 4yr old ignored my request to pick up, I'd probably pick up a little with/FOR her, and think "WELP! She's 4! You just never know with 4 year olds!" And then I'd buckle her in her carseat and take her home. My oldest though? That kind of thing drove me to INSANITY.

What I'm saying is, things will turn a corner when he starts eating his own foot-skin. OBVS.

Hang in there.

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