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Let's Panic: The Book!

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How to Endure and Possibly Triumph Over the Adorable Tyrant
who Will Ruin Your Body, Destroy Your Life, Liquefy Your Brain,
and Finally Turn You
into a Worthwhile
Human Being.

Written by Alice Bradley and Eden Kennedy

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At LET'S PANIC ABOUT BABIES, Eden Kennedy and I share our hard-won wisdom and tell you exactly what to think and feel and do, whether you're about to have a baby or already did and don't know what to do with it.

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« Addendum. And pictures! | Main | Three questions »
Tuesday
Sep162008

The Indignant Kindergartener.

Henry is shocked—SHOCKED!—that I dare move around in space and talk to him and have the gall to ask him questions. He learned from someone (I'm still searching for the source, and I will find it, oh, and how that person will rue the day) to answer every question with the handy phrase "Of course I (fill in the blank)." The above should be stated in weary indignation, as if the questioner should really know better by now. "Did you have a good day at school?" I might ask. "OF COURSE I didn't!" This is usually followed by violent eye-rolling and the occasional drop to the floor. His horror that I would dare ask such a question renders him incapable of bearing his own weight. His legs have simply given out from the shock. And yet here she comes again, with more questions! "Did you have gym today?" The eyes roll around and around. "OF COURSE. And it was BORING. All we did was WALK in CIRCLES."

Even if the response is positive, the affect is the same. "OF COURSE I had a good day at school. I only had the BEST DAY EVER. AAAAAAH." "And what made it the best day ever?" I might ask. "Obviously, that I WAS THE BEST KID," he booms, "And of course I ANSWERED EVERY QUESTION RIGHT." Then he throws himself to the ground because he can't believe he has to WALK with ME. GOD.

On the other hand, he's answering my questions this year. He can act as tough as he likes, but I'm still getting the precious, precious info. I realize that being excited to hear that "Nicholas STEPPED on my FOOT during LINE-UP" is pretty pathetic. But seriously, it's the most he's told me since the day he entered preschool, all those many years ago, when he wanted to marry me but didn't want to tell me what they ate during snack time.

Reader Comments (54)

My daughter does the SAME thing...And if I tell her 'No' she replies with "Waah!".Like a lame baby cry. I hate it.
September 16, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterAriel
Why? Why must they withhold information from us? Perhaps it's payback for not letting them mainline sugar for dinner every night.
September 16, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterRobin
Who cares what they eat during snack? I wanna know who won four-square today.
September 16, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterAlly
What is it with preschool kids and the secrecy? My son's preschool gives a detailed report at the end of the day, but of course I still want to hear from him what he did. One day last week, he actually said, "Doesn't the sheet tell you that?" I'm sorry, what? And if I can get him to talk it's always the same time. "What did you do today?" "Played." "Who did you play with?" "I don't know." Argh! Little person brains confound me and give me a headache!
September 16, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterJill (CDJ)
OMG I am SOOO glad he does this to you too. Sophie started Kindergarten this year and I've finally learned to accept that I cannot ask for information. I must wait for it to be bestowed upon me when I am clearly unworthy. Congrats on getting some info outta your kid, even with the eye rolling, its content that counts.
September 16, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterMelissa
Oh, the eye-rolling. Where-oh-WHERE do they learn that??
September 16, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterLynn in Tucson
He sounds like a tiny little Napoleon Dynamite - I had that voice in my head as I was reading this. Too funny!
September 16, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterTUWABVB
This might not work with every kid, but sometimes I have to tell my son 'You know, it hurts my feelings when I ask you a question and you answer me like that.'

Sometimes I have to show him what an appropriate response is, or say that the 'Of COURSE' (or whatever the phrase of the week was) sounds mean or whatever.

He probably doesn't know how it sounds when it comes out of his mouth, but most kids do know what hurt feelings feel like.

Like I said, YMMV.
September 16, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterLiz C
I've got two of these, but of different flavors.

One is an emotional information miser who Doesn't Want To Talk About It. Ever. Except perhaps after delaying bedtime until she's wrung out, exhausted, and teary.

The other is a always sunny and happy, except when he's not. He always answers "GREAT!" to every inquiry, and then I get ambushed by the notes in his backpack stating he "cried easily" or "had a rough day."
September 16, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterVelma
I, too, wanted to marry someone once. I don't recall ever telling her what I ate during snack time, either. Evidently, this is a 'guy thing'. Scott can confirm.
September 16, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterYou can call me, 'Sir'
My son turned 18 last Tuesday and seems to feel that there is some law(federal he believes)that states that he doesn't have to listen to us anymore(us being parents). When Spencer's parents said he couldn't go to Native New Yorker to watch Monday Night Football I said,"See, Spencer listens to his parents." "That is because he isn't 18." "Spencer will listen to his parents when he's 40", I said. "That's because he's Spencer." At least he doesn't throw himself to the ground anymore, so I guess my point is you have something to look forward to.
September 16, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterTerri
Oh the secrecy. When the heck did 6 year olds turn into sullen teenagers?? I came up with a game to get information out of my daughter because I got so irritated with the one syllable answers.

Here's what we did: We'd each tell 3 "stories" about our day and the other had to guess which one was correct. So she might say "Josh threw up during gym. OR I saw a dog with only three legs on the playground. OR The new girl tought me how to spell my name in sign language." And then I had to guess which one really happened.

Hey, it's not much but it's somethin'.
September 16, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterkate
My daughter puts her hands on her hips and talks snotty to me. Only today, she put one hand on her hip (the other was carrying *stuff*) to say something nice. She vacillates between excessive detail and the phrase "I don't remember".

Her little sister is totally copying the too much/too little info behavior, but hasn't figured out the snotty teenager attitude yet.
September 16, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterBecky
Alice, I have an request unrelated to your post: when you & Eden's book comes out, can you pleeease have a signing/reading at the Tea Lounge, or someplace else in Brooklyn? I was all set to go to your thing on Friday, and was very excited to meet one of my favorite bloggers in person, but my daughter's preschool orientation meeting (which was basically useless -- separation anxiety exists, bring a change of clothing, yada yada, I get it) went way long and I had to miss your entire thing. I can only comfort myself with the assumption that surely, next time you're in print, you'll come back to your old 'hood, right?
September 16, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterdana
Whenever you track that person down that taught him to respond like that, let me know, 'cause they taught my daughter the same thing.
September 16, 2008 | Unregistered Commenteramber
IF ONLY my child would simple say "of course." He has been taught to answer with "abso-fruitly" instead!
September 16, 2008 | Unregistered Commentermrsmouthy
heeheeheehee.



you kill me.
September 16, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterstephanie
Funny my first thought was - at least you're getting the information. Mine's in 1st and I get nothin' or even better, completely contradictory information day to day.
September 16, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterNicole
Gee, lady, what are you thinkin? The nerve of you and your questions!;) The day you don't ask, though, ooo, I would NOT want to be you.
September 16, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterame i.
I used to just ignore this kind of commentary from my 4-year-old and continue with forced gaiety a la Bree on "Desperate Housewives." Then I picked up a few older (like, published when I was a kid in the '70s and '80s) parenting books. One of them is called "Stopping Backtalk" or something like that.

The book ruled all that kind of sarcasm, eye rolling, etc. as "backtalk." It never occured to me that this was a crime for which I could issue punishment. But I tried out the book's advice, and it made the backtalk go away. Sure, it still rears its head, but then I just revert to the book's teachings, which are shockingly harsh in today's parenting climate and therefore shockingly enjoyable to administer.

What's the technique? Well, you have to have some fun things scheduled, or at least having something going on that the kid wants to do. Because when they roll their eyes or speak rudely to you, you just sigh and say, "You know, that kind of talk makes me feel bad and it really tires me out. Because you spoke to me that way, I'm afraid I'm not going to be able to take you to Imelda's house tonight." Or whatever.

No warnings or nothin'. I looooove it.

OK, and now I have broken the cardinal mommyblog rule and dished out advice. I'm sorry! But I did love that little book.
September 16, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterCarrie
Am feeling the need for disclaimers: I'm not saying everyone should categorize such-and-such behavior as backtalk, or that you, Alice, should be doing what I did. I'm just saying that it feels great when you move a behavior from the category of "must be borne with motherly fortitude" to, "can and will be stopped."
September 16, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterCarrie
I'm with Carrie - Ray Guarendi gives the same advice. He has 10 kids, so the man has done his field research.
September 16, 2008 | Unregistered Commentersuburbancorrespondent
I love hearing how children go through phases. I can only hope my own go through the same ones so I can sit and reflect on with with a mixture of humor and frustration.
September 16, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterMichelle
As annoyed as I was with our time spent at Montessori (teacher problems), the one thing I learned although it was so difficult to enact was to NOT ASK about their day. There is a lot going on, so to speak, in their still-developing brains and they need their own time to process it all before they're ready to share it with you. Take that as you will. My daughter was like Henry when she was in preschool, and now that she's in 1st grade I hear the minutest detail about all 21 of her classmates (did you know Sophie doesn't like apples? And Caden puts gel in his hair! etc., etc.) when I just wanted a general overview!
September 16, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterAnne
Can I top that? Why yes, yes I can.

Bunker Monkey's preferred method of responding is, of late, "Whatever."

I'm so sorry, did I accidentally birth a teenaged girl when I wasn't looking? I know the kid was eleven pounds, but really, this is just too much.
September 16, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterAstrogirl426

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