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Shut Up. Yep, that’s what I said.

I see the moment so clearly; all of us walking into the restaurant, my friend bickering back and forth with her snarky, then 11 year-old son, her, ultimately, telling him to shut up.

I remember how totally and completely horrified I was. I had babies at the time; sweet little yum yums. I could never imagine speaking to them that way, and I’m sure my judgment showed.

My friend shot me a stern look of reproach. “Just wait.” She warned. “You’ll do it too.”

I nodded, embarrassed for all of us, but I didn’t believe her. We were different, I told myself. I would never. And I didn’t, until the day I did.

I was past the point of frustration and on to exasperation when I snapped at my squabbling 8 and 10 year-old. It just came out. I don’t know how, and my hand quickly flew to my mouth in shame.

They looked at me, momentarily confused, all speech halted.

“Mommy, you said, shut up.” They both giggled.

“I know, I know. I shouldn’t have. I’m sorry.” Bad mommy. Bad, bad mommy.

“You always tell us never to say that.” More giggling.

It’s true. I think saying ‘shut up’ is worse than cursing. My kids regularly amuse themselves by dropping something and loudly exclaiming, “Damn it!” The expression of frustration doesn’t really bother me.  Of course, I don’t encourage it, but it’s those words and phrases with intention to hurt that make me cringe. Words like, “I don’t like you.” Or “You’re stupid.”

Or, “Shut up.”

How did I just say that?

Well, they were obviously driving me insane and I wanted them to shut up. Sigh.

Back at the beginning of my mommy career, I sat quietly on my horse with my perfect child, looking down at the moms of children running wild through the playground, or climbing on top of carts in the supermarket, or manipulating a second or third oreo. Tsk Tsk.

Until all of a sudden, I did things I swore I’d never do like: let my child sleep in my bed, reduce me to tears in Target, make me want to throw them out a window, bribe them with sugar and TV so I could talk on the phone, make three different meals each night, or just give up and give a bowl of cereal, hide in the bathroom, buy expensive gadgets or iPhones…

Well, ha ha ha on me. Because it’s easy to judge, when it’s not your life in the midst of mental meltdown.

While I do my best to exhibit respectful behavior and make the right choices, sometimes I don’t do as I intend, and I learned long ago, never to say never.

Telling them to shut up is certainly not on my highlight reel, but I guess, it happens. Or, it happened. Hopefully, it won’t again. But it might.

I can just hear my friend saying, I told you so. And while I’d like to tell her to shut up, I try not to say those kind of things.

Damn it.

Clearly not winning any parenting awards over here.

Clearly not winning any parenting awards over here.





About Ice Scream Mama

Mama to 3 boys, wife to Mr. Baseball and daughter of a sad man. I have a double scoop every day.

33 responses »

  1. I too dread the day I do all of those things. It’s coming. I just know it.



    Sent from my iPhone

  3. It happens to the best of us.

  4. I think using sugar and TV as a bribe for a few moments of sanity is genius. No judgment here.

  5. Haha – we are think we are so “perfect” in the beginning! I remember my daughter telling me that she would NEVER allow her child to eat fast food as I tried to give him a McD’s french fry to gum when he was barely old enough to sit in a high chair… NEVER… as fast food became a staple in single-mom home!!

  6. When you get to the end of your rope, shut up is sometimes the only thing left to say.

  7. Don’t feel bad. Sometimes kids really just need to shut up.

  8. Phyllis Horowitz

    No judging from this older generation; we actually used to shout and occasionally smack! – just want to say one thing: you got their attention, you got them to quiet down and turned their bickering into giggling. Only suggestion would be to sit them down and explain how their behavior effects everyone around them and how they could learn to tone it down or count to ten or just walk away from each other. That would make you and them much happier, although it’s definitely more fun for them to see you lose it!

  9. This is fantastic! You are so honest and I appreciate every word. I feel the same exact way.

  10. Ha! Yes, exactly. I remember when my kids were wee and I learned that “hate” and “shut up” were now on the list of things kids were taught were “bad words.” Worked for me. Now I find myself saying things like “I really hate that” without my kids repremanding me. I’m sure shut up is not far behind. I mean, seriously, sometimes kids are just assholes. If “shut up” is the worst you say to them, I say you’re doing alright! (P.S. Try NOT to call them assholes to their faces . . . that is seriously frowned upon). 😉

  11. Ah I have done this several times, each time feeling guiltier that the last. 😦

  12. Natalie DeYoung

    I feel for you, really, I do – but I’m laughing, too, because this was so funny.

  13. Like Natalie, this made me laugh – sorry. I like your perspective in this piece. I think any parent with older children can totally relate.

    On the plus side, at least you didn’t say: “Shut up, damn it!!”

  14. Some of the best parenting advice I got when I was preggo with #1 was from a friend who had VERY VERY different ideas and strategies than I did. She said “never say you will NEVER do anything as a parent b/c you will be surprised by what you do when the time comes.”

  15. Nobody’s immune from snapping occasionally. We’re only human.

    Well, some of us are cyborgs, but people tell me Robocop isn’t real. Liars!

  16. At least it was good blog fodder. It’s impossible to be perfect with kids.

  17. “Shut up” was a really bad word (bad words) in our house growing up. No judgment here. Kids are hard work.

  18. I’m right there with ya….”Shut up” is on the banned bad words list here, right after “stupid”.
    And I have blown up and said it, as well as “shut it” and also yell “zip it” more than I should, and they know it’s ALL bad.

    I hate it when I do it, but Mom, they made me. *sighs*

  19. I can so relate. Just this morning, in the middle of a “you have to go to school, you’re nine years old” argument with my son, I unconsciously rattled off several sad details of my (less-than-happy) childhood in a feeble attempt to get him to just *appreciate* what a great life he has as though he’d suddenly see how good he has it and be thrilled to hop in the car and get to school…
    Yea, that worked about as well as “shut up”. In fact, this morning, I could only aspire to get to the “shut up” level. I’m only hoping I didn’t mentally scar him for life :-0
    ~bad mom

    • hahaha!! oh man! i hear you. sometimes we’re just at the end of the rope and need to pull out whatever’s in the arsenal. don’t worry.. they forget real fast too. we’re fond of impromptu mommy guilt trips to the ice cream store. 🙂


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