the tale of two mommies

Well, my Martin Luther King Jr. weekend was very yell-y, and how was yours? My 2009 resolution to be Good Mommy, instead of “The Other One,” is, after a three-day weekend with my children 24/7, not off to a very good start.

I try to be patient. I try to model the behavior that I want my own children to exhibit. And yet, when Fergus has ignored my seventeenth exhortation to clean up the toy room NOW, after the timers and the stickers and the threats to withhold Max and Ruby have all proven to be utterly toothless, I can’t help it.


To which Fergus can be counted on to respond in one of two ways:

“Mommy, I ungry.”
“Mommy, I urt. I bweeding.”

Both diversionary tactics, patently false, which do not involve any picking up of alphabet puppets, you will note.

Thank goodness David was there to swoop in and say, “Take a break, Aim,” and tag me out. I felt very guilty until, five minutes later, I could hear him from upstairs hollering, “Fergus you pick up those alphabet puppets NOW or else there is NO DINNER FOR YOU AT! ALL!!” Then, of course, I felt much better. If I was a Bad Parent, I was not alone.

Still, Yelling Mommy is not who I want to be. Once the toy room was picked up and dinner was served, I said to Cooper and Fergus, “I’m sorry that I yelled a lot today.”

No response.

“Does it bother you when I yell?” I offered.

“Not weawwy,” Fergus said, tucking in to his ziti.

“A little,” Cooper offered, sensing that this was perhaps what I wanted to hear.

“Should I try hard not to yell and you guys try harder to listen?” I said, hoping to steer the conversation in a productive direction.

Cooper looked up and shrugged. Fergus was like, whatevs.

And, see, there’s the REAL problem. I hollered until I was purple, and I’m sure they didn’t LIKE it, but they are quickly learning to ignore it pretty much completely. They can tune out my yelling. If it worked, it would be harder to stop doing it. Since it is clearly ineffective, I need to move on to more effective techniques.

Perhaps it is time to return to Scream-Free Parenting, a book I bought last year with high hopes, but abandoned by about p. 85 because it was still trying to convince me that yelling at your kids is bad. Um, I know, that’s why I bought your book. How about some solutions?

I’ll start reading at page 150 this time. I’ll let you know what it says.

(photo courtesy of