Must We Be Creepy?

We're ALWAYS Happy

While on vacation, we manage to meet up with some friends for a birthday party. My friends’ kids, two boys, are three and almost five and nice, sedate, sorts. Totally foreign.

The party is at my friend’s in-laws’ house, which is filled with white couches and tall free-standing vases… balanced on pedestals… and filled with decorative sticks… Josie loves a good party and runs from one terrifyingly crushable object to another with me trailing behind her whispering in my most compulsive, creepy, mommy voice – these are not our things. These things belong to our hosts. We must respect our hosts and their things.

Oh, sure Mom, I should respect their things, why didn’t you just say so? I’m totally old enough to grasp that concept.

Just as soon as I’m done explaining why bubbles don’t have feelings, I’m going to explain the concept of respect. I’m sure she’s ready. Then we’ll teach her to tend bar. (Yes, sweetie, that’s right, the green jigger. Good work! Now run along and fetch Mommy a slice of lime.)

The next day, still on vacation, while sitting in the sun reading my magazine, I come across a cartoon that has a picture of mother and child on a playground and says Mommy needs to get mad at you in a weird calm voice now. (I wish I could embed it here but I would have to pay the New Yorker $450 for that right.) This was exactly how I felt the night before, and really, how I feel most of the time.

Why is yelling forbidden? Not that I yell often, but isn’t there a time and a place? Dangers, for example? Or instances of extreme frustration? Sometimes it’s the only way to get the point across. Sometimes the kid needs to know how much trouble she is in. Sometimes nothing else works.

Shouldn’t we be free to show the whole range of emotions to our children? Can’t we be loving and happy and nurturing but also sometimes frustrated and angry and just pissed off? Can I write a whole blog post consisting only of questions? Perhaps.

My point is this (I think): why do we have to act all weird? This is how life is. It’s tough, and if we argue and get frustrated and then reconnect and work things out, aren’t we better off for it?

Can I get a hell yes and a fist pump from all the angry mommies in the house?

13 thoughts on “Must We Be Creepy?

  1. Polly

    Well, I’m not technically a mommy, but as an experienced nanny, older sibling and “auntie” to all my friends’ kids, I can say hell yeah and will even give you a fist bump to boot. Not to equate, but it’s sort of like the dog. If you say “you’re dumb and ugly” in a sweet voice, they think you’re telling them how fantastic and wonderful they are. What is that they say about nonverbal communication winning over words every time?

  2. Leslie

    Hells to the yeah. That said, yelling – or more specifically using a voice “with an unkind tone” – also adds another drop to the guilt trough from which I drink each and every day. And when they become sassy pre-teens, you get to hear that very same voice complete with every brand of unkindness known to mankind yelling right back at you. So I would say that out of sheer self-preservation, and to generally keep the volume down, I still vote for creepy. For some other interesting approaches to letting your child know when things are simply not OK, I’m generally a fan of Love & Logic.

  3. Katherine Post author

    Well said Leslie. I am also a fan of L&L and that is the goal. Very good point about when your kids grow up. I can’t imagine Josie as a sassy teenage (or pre-teen) yelling back at me. Scary!

  4. Tami

    Hell yeah!

    The other day I shouted, “I’m a human being, too!” to my three year old. It was super effective. Not really, but I did feel better momentarily. I think our kids need to know we are human and we have feelings and we get overwhelmed by them sometimes. Also it can be an opportunity for them to see how you deal with it. Like do you let it overtake you and completely lose it, or do you take a breath and get grounded and move on. But shoot, a little honesty is in order. It’s ok for all of us to feel bad feelings, and to express them.

  5. Amy

    HELL YEAH!!!!

    Creepy voice is scary, thought provoking…yelling is pedestrian. If Mommy was possessed she would not be yelling she would be using creepy voice and therefore they want to look and see Mommy’s head turn around. Whatever works my friend. And she is more than welcome to come here and blend. Nice and sedate don’t apply here!

  6. Meagan Dawson

    As a mother of two, I certainly believe there is a time and place to yell. Yesterday, I yelled at my son when he gayly counted “1-2-3 cross the street” and proceeded to run into the MIDDLE of a four way intersection. (when I heard him counting, I thought he would do what we normally do – proceed from one sidewalk, across ONE street, and make it to the other sidewalk) I could hear a car coming so I simply yelled “C-A-R-T-E-R – – – S-T-O-P!” Being the brilliant child he is, he turned swiftly and ran back to me (i.e. safety) instead of doing what I asked (i.e. stop in the middle of a four way intersection with an oncoming car).
    So I guess my only advice is, if you are going to yell, make sure the words that are coming out of your mouth are the right words. Which leads me to believe that the reason why we hiss in a low, clenched-teeth growl is that we instinctually know that our blood pressure is high, we can hear our heartbeat in our eardrums, and we MIGHT yell some weird things that everyone around us will hear loud and clear. So maybe we should go back to that creepy whisper and get our cue cards ready?

  7. Alyssa

    Creepy works, but with a kid who, for example, gets the nickname “Fireball” (as in whoa there, Fireball) by three weeks and yells “CHEWBACCA!” at the top of a 50′ waterslide as she’s sliding down by herself before she’s two, volume is sometimes the only thing that gets through the intense focus and determination. I always think that anybody who can make it completely on quiet and L&L (we do that too) is amazing, and anybody who thinks that quiet is the only thing that works for every kid has gram-nesia or has better drugs.

  8. Elizabeth

    I’ve been thinking about this for a few days now. I’m not sure that the issue really is that yelling is forbidden, as much as it is never as effective as it should be. If you are 3 and you yell all the time, how interesting is it when mommy yells (as I did while frantically trying to get out of the house one morning with both girls clinging to one leg sobbing – maybe the vacation without them was not such a good idea). Creepy mommy voice, with a touch of guilt “mommy is very sad right now” seems to be nearly as effective.

    I’m super impressed with Meagan’s son who knew how to respond when she yelled at him to stop. Wow!

  9. Jenn

    Does anyone else think that the creepy mommy voice isn’t actually for the kids but for the other adults/parents in the area? It is a way to show others 1) I am aware that my child is making a non-socially-appropriate choice and am telling you by telling them “it’s not okay to throw rocks” (creepy voice) and 2) I am not a parent who is out of control… I can use a calm voice and I use one all the time (yea right) watch me deal with my child w/o yelling, aren’t I a great parent?!
    Does that make sense? Kids get our creepy voices b/c we don’t want to yell in front of others or show that we are about to LOSE IT!
    My other thought is that if I primarily use creepy voice then when I actually do yell it sounds different and makes the kids stop and think or say “Mommy are you frustrated with me?” to quote my 3 year old.
    Just my 2 cents..

  10. Katherine Post author

    I agree Jenn. It seems like anger, in regards to parenting, has become socially unacceptable. Like if you’re angry, you must be a bad parent.

  11. geekymummy

    hello, popped over from followthatdog. What an awesome post.

    I went to a parenting seminar that addressed this issue and they advised that it is healthy and indeed good for our kids to see us angry. Just not out of control and abusive. Yelling “I’m mad, I see milk all over the floor” is the way to go, rather than “You fracking stupid idiot child, you spilled the milk”, apparently. But anger is good, let it out. Otherwise our kids, who get angry on a regular basis, think we are bizzare eerily calm beings whom they can’t relate to.
    I reassure myself with this advice whenever I totally lose it.

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