a grumpy mama

is ceiling leaking?
had eyes closed, felt drip on face
oh, it’s wee one’s snot

I’m having this guilt problem right now. It seems like all I do is express irritation with the wee one. I’ve turned into one of those harpy moms, I think.

"Please don’t do that."
"Hey! Stop screaming when you talk."
"I don’t care if ninja turtles make that noise, that noise gets little boys a timeout."
"Don’t put your penis on your sister."
"Sit closer to the table when you eat."
"Why did you throw clean clothes on the floor?"
"Licking other people’s hands is gross. Stop it."
"Can you wash your stinky feet, please?"
"Tooty McTootsalot can’t sit next to me in the car right now. Sorry."
"Well, if you can’t find your shoes, you can’t go outside."
"Clean up the melted popsicle, don’t STEP on it."
"You have to tell me what you want, I can’t read your mind."

I feel like all I ever do is nag and point out things that drive me crazy. I try to make sure I compliment him when I’m not nagging, and I try to make sure I explain my exasperated harangues ("If you don’t sit closer to the table, the cheese from your pasta falls on the floor, and then the dog eats it, and it gives him an ear infection because of his allergies and we don’t want that, right?)

But frankly, I’m tired of of having to explain myself to a four-year-old. I want him to LISTEN TO ME. I only want to have to ask him things ONE TIME. I want him to learn from one day to the next to STOP DOING THE SAME THINGS OVER AND OVER. I, Me, Myself, The Grownup – I AM THE MOMMY.

But timeouts only go so far. And a timeout for dropping cheese on the floor when he seems to genuinely have forgotten to sit closer to the table seems ridiculous. So I nag. And I hate it. I hate how my voice sounds doing it. And I’m sure it’s just as unpleasant for other people to listen to, as well.

This is what you have to do though, right? This is what you do to raise a possibly upstanding citizen, right? You teach him right from wrong. You teach him about consequences. You teach him to make decisions on his own – to think about things before doing them. But I have to adopt that tone to get him to listen – you know the one, the mom-in-movies tone. The nag tone.


I hate the nagging mom tone. If the nagging mom tone was a cell phone ring, no one would have cell phones (note to self: investigate making this happen). But I guess I have to do it. It sort of works and that’s better than not working at all. And it’s better than raising a person who never thinks about other people. But I hope it gets better. I feel like such a drag. And don’t tell me moms have to be a drag. There has to be a happy medium somewhere. Right? Right?

6 thoughts on “a grumpy mama

  1. I’ve found declarative statements save my sanity whether or not they truly sound less nagging to the kid.
    “Popsicle sticks belong in the trash.”
    “Forks don’t belong on the floor.”
    “You can put your empty cup in the sink.”
    Or even a short “Hands!” when they’re covered in chocolate and just about to be smeared on the couch.
    To me it makes it more of a reminder and less of a gripe. I’m still saying the same thing, basically, but the tone of voice makes a difference. It does seem to get more responses like “Oh, yeah!” instead of grumblegrumblegrumble.
    From adults, too!


  2. Oh, girlfriend. You have so eloquently expressed what my dh and I have been feeling lately with our almost 5yo. The nagging really, really, really weighs on me. I feel like a broken record, and it’s not fun. For me or anyone else. Thanks for expressing it so well, and for helping me see that I’m not alone in the struggle, and that all 4 year olds have trouble listening. I feel like my son ignores me until I’ve gotten to the 5th or 6th plea to do whatever it is I need him to do: get dressed, brush your teeth, pick up your toys, put your shoes on. Ugh.


  3. Have you hidden a recording device in my house? This is the transcript of our life with a 5-yr-old boy. But I’ve resigned myself to it. As long as you balance the nag with some positive reinforcement, and follow through when you have to discipline, I think you’re fine. And Suzanne’s declarative statement idea is outstanding, too. I’ll be trying that one. Just remember he’s male, and selective hearing is obviously carried on the Y chromosome. It’s the way of the universe.


  4. Oh my god, you are living in my house!
    Except one statement was a little different..
    “get your penis out of your sister’s face!”


  5. On the other hand, even short comments do get old when repeated. And they do get repeated.
    I think my teacher sister said it’s not until about 3rd grade that kids really start to remember to do things you’ve already told them to do.
    And of course even then they still “forget” if they’re anything like I was.


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