“Discipline is a symbol of caring to a child. He needs guidance. If there is love, there is no such thing as being too tough with a child. A parent must also not be afraid to hang himself. If you have never been hated by your child, you have never been a parent.”

-Bette Davis


“That’s IT! You go straight to bed without supper!”

Wasn’t that the way it used to be?

Almost home, and my 7 year-old still doesn’t believe me. She asks me twice during the car ride home:

“Mommy, am I REALLY going to bed without eating dinner?”


“I’m going to tell Daddy.”

People go to jail for this sort of thing, don’t they? “Child endangerment?” The growing kid needs nutrients. Maybe that’s what’s missing, not the severity of corporal punishment that should result in a better-behaved child. Way too much white pasta, not enough brussel sprouts?

We get home, and the reality of it is slowly dawning on her. I won’t answer her calls from behind her closed bedroom door:

“Mom . . .? MOM?”

(I know it’s really desperate when she uses “mommy,” so I don’t respond).

Finally, it looks like I really hit on something that can make some sort of impact. Taking away the IPad didn’t work. Taking away the new bobbles at the checkout line didn’t work. Taking away storytime didn’t make a dent. And the worst part of me senses . . .VICTORY.

As I send her to shower off the new tears streaming down her face that I pretend not to see, I feel another thrill of triumph: AH-HA! SOMETHING finally WORKED!

Then, she says:

“Mommy, I really appreciate everything nice that you were doing for us. So much that it made me crazy, mommy. KOO-KOO crazy. That’s why, mommy. That’s why I didn’t listen.”

Oh. GOD. It was after I had picked them up from a long day at Girl Scout camp. They had been walking. OUT IN THE SUN. She was hungry and spun up, and I had made the stupid decision to take her to Target and to then bombard her already fried little senses with ridiculous requests like:

“Hey, pick a few new T-shirts.”

“What kind of jammies do you want to wear?”


“Pick a cereal for breakfast tomorrow.”

It was MY fault. How could I possibly punish the poor kid? She’s just an immature human being without the predisposed knowledge to be able to handle the multitude of stresses I just imposed on her. . .what was I DOING?

But then I remember the cashier. Remember both the people waiting in the front and back of us in the checkout line (yes, there was an audience. One that should have paid ME for what they were witnessing, more entertaining than any Nanny 911 episode):

Cashier: “Hang in there. It gets better.”

Grandmother before me: “You always do your best.”

Mother of the wide-eyed 9 year-old behind us: “That was me last week, and I told him he was never coming back here.”

Pick your battles, I’ve been told. “You have to give her dinner . . .” I imagine my husband telling me . . .

“Goodnight, baby. Better choices tomorrow.”

I hug her, kiss her, close the door, and leave her sobbing in her room for about a half-hour before she falls asleep.

I feel like joining her.

And, of course, I’m planning a HUGE pancake breakfast in the morning.

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