Do Not Spank or Yell

Vacations are not healthy. You get this nice, relaxing dose of life without responsibility, then you’re slammed back into reality, high heels first.

It hasn’t been the best week. I seem to have lost my sense of humor for motherhood, and my patience tank (which was already running low) was lost in baggage claim.

So today we went to Ikea. I love Ikea. Why? Because not only is stuff cheap, but they have a delightful fee-free daycare for the toilet trained toddler in your life. In my mind, this trip was going to be a breeze. How hard can one kid at Ikea be?

Unfortunately, I forgot one little Sweedish detail: the kids have to remove their shoes. That’s right, they wanted Rex to take off his sneakers. Let me tell you, the first thing out of that boy’s mouth every morning is, “where are my clothes and shoes? I need my shoes!”

Trying to get him to part with his tennies was like asking one of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles to give up his shell. He freaked out, and the only option I had was to keep him with me.

Five minutes into our field trip June was screaming (which she’d been doing since 6 am), and Rex was having fits because he couldn’t play in the play center, and all I wanted to do was look at shelving. That’s all. Nothing more. Shelving.

When I finally found what I was looking for and stopped the cart, Rex started yanking on my coattails. Seriously, he was pulling me as hard as he could by the back of the shirt, trying to get me moving toward the play area. I tried to gently dissuade him from pushing the volcanic eruption button, but he wouldn’t give it up.

So I snapped.

It was like all my pent up frustration with my whiney babies and my very sore foot (and no, I don’t want to talk about the foot) seemed to gel at just the wrong moment. Before I had time to censor myself, I reached back and whacked him.

And two old ladies saw me.

To make it worse, he started to cry and told me I hurt his feelings.

In that moment of behavioral clarity, I felt like a fool. The fog cleared and things were suddenly obvious: here I am, a grown adult with my own agenda, dragging to very grumpy children around by their shirt collars to goodness knows where while I try to run errands that they despise, and I get mad at them for not puppeting along behind me like shiny, happy people.

I appologized to Rex, and once again reviewed my goals for the day: Do not spank or yell.

That is the toughest list I’ve ever had.


  1. It is so hard. Patience, responding-not-reacting, calm, and wisdom. All of these, I seem to lack in natural ability. I have to work hard at all of them and fall short all the time. Don’t be too hard on you. A swat on the bum might feel like you’ve bruised his little heart forever but kids are resilient, forgiving little angels. Just keep doing what you’re doing–being aware and loving them.

  2. I’ll just echo everything that L.T. Elliot commented. You have great kids and you are a great mom!

  3. I have a hard time not doing that to other people’s children.

  4. Being a Mom is really the hardest job in the world! Were you getting shelving for your work space??? Hope your day gets better!

    • annie valentine says:

      It’s slow, Tanya, but I’m getting there. I found the coolest design blog at and got some great ideas from her office makeover. It’s a few pages back, but so darling, you should check her out. Right now I’m working on getting my work table painted and mounted (I’m cutting it in half and securing both halves to the wall to give me a big long work station), then shelves, bins, and the fun frosting. I am so glad you inspired me to do this, it’s such a fun project! I should be up and running by the end of next week (after the ward Halloween party which I’m in charge of). Yay!

  5. Wow. Did you live my life yesterday?

  6. Awww Annie, you are such a softie! When I beat my child she doesn’t cry about hurt feelings – I’ll tell you that much! I’m from the school of thought (oh, oh, here I go stirring the pot) that children should have a healthy amount of fear mixed with respect & love of course, for their parents. A good whack is sometimes all you need — but only if you can do it without going postal. I was beat plenty o’ times and I think I came out okay — twitch, twitch. I always say, if we don’t give our children a reason to seek out professional counseling when they’re older — then we haven’t done our job!

  7. Anne – I have been on Holiday and am catching up on your blog! I think you just described me – the lunatic mother with two children with a 7 hour layover at JFK while her husband was still in AZ. Thank heavens after I finally got some food in me and we sat down I cooled down. The massage for me and manicures for the girls certainly did seem to help me not completely lose it in the International terminal!

    Thank you for another inspiring post – note to self: do not yell – I have not spanked in years, since I watched Dr. Phil about spanking. Yelling is another issue for me!

    Tanya – you are too funny! I love telling my children that we are saving for their therapy now!

  8. Good gravy woman! No spanking or yelling! What’s next? No halloween candy? Are you trying to make the rest of us look bad?

  9. This comment box has been sitting open for a good two hours, waiting for me to come back to it and say something brilliant and/or witty.

    All I’ve got is: I once threatened to slap my child at the top of my lungs in a crowded park.

    We left early.

  10. Yeah… you are normal! 🙂 Sometimes kids just need a good whack on their bum to get it into their brain that the behavior they are emitting is just not appropriate. Don’t be too ####### yourself. It’s good for kids to find out there are limitations and bounderies they just can’t cross.

  11. Oh boy. i get so impatient with only one, I don’t know how I am going to do more than that!

  12. First of all, I love your blog! Secondly, now I don’t feel so bad about giving my son a warning tap while in the checkout at Harmons. I felt sure the checker wanted to turn me in for child abuse.

  13. Well, all I have to say is I spend the majority of every day catering to my kids and their needs/wants. Half the time when we go to the store they get free treats and spend a good 20 min browsing the toy aisles. Good grief woman! Don’t feel guilty because you had household shopping to do and your kids didn’t follow you around all happy about it. This world is centered too much around our little sweeties and their desires. They don’t know or learn what it is to do something because somebody else needs to if it doesn’t have a benefit for them…

    Wow, okay off my soap box now, but I guess your getting a great glimpse at how I feel about trying to drag my brood around to run my errands today. I can hardly get us out of the house. And Kelsi just drew on her shirt with a ball point pen.

    Kill me now.

  14. You hit the nail on the head! Some days that is a pretty tough list, even with a healthy dose of empathy for the little tikes!

  15. Some days I figure if my list is just “Don’t drive everyone off of a bridge” and that’s all, then at least I know we’ll all survive until tomorrow when I’ll hopefully have a better handle on things.