Sometimes I Really Mess Up–Guest Post and Giveaways

Summer is a great time to catch up on reading. My Kindle has been on fire lately. I’ve recently had the pleasure to read a fabulous award-winning parenting book,
What Not to Say: Tools for Talking with Young Children by Sarah MacLaughlin.

This book is packed with insights into your child’s behaviors, and gives you the simple tools necessary to promote a positive teaching and learning environment. It’s clear, concise information any parent can immediately put to use. Today, I am excited to host a guest post by the author. Please give her a warm welcome and be sure to enter into her giveaway!

Sometimes I Really Mess Up

Guest Post by Sarah MacLaughlin, Author of the award-winning Amazon bestselling book, What Not to Say: Tools for Talking with Young Children

Okay, it’s confession time. No matter how hard I try to avoid the label, people call me a, **gulp** “parenting expert.” I tell parents they are the expert on their kids. I know a lot about development and have spent a lot of time with kids—but not likely your kid—you’re the one who knows her best, right? Anyway, where I’m going with this is that I am not really an expert. Not on kids in general, or communication in general, and I’m not a perfect parent—my belief is that they don’t actually exist.

In an effort to be completely out of the closet about how entirely imperfect I am. I will say that while I doteach parents to be aware of what they say in front of their children, pay attention to their tone, and be mindful of the fact that they are always modeling, alas, I do not always practice what I preach.

Below are many examples of the ways in which I have completely blown it when it comes to modeling good communication and parenting—the proof is most certainly in these choice phrases that my four-year-old son has said back to me over the past two years.

“This f%@*ing sucks!”

Yeah, that one was pretty bad. It was a 3:30 AM nightmare-zone of non-sleep—he was probably just over two. He was not talking full sentences yet, but was in that very cute repeat-back phase. I was (reluctantly) carrying him downstairs for a snack because he just would not go back to sleep. I’m the one who said it first, about halfway down the stairs. He said it right back to me in his adorable little baby voice, and honestly, it’s probably the best thing that could have happened. Seriously, nothing lightens your mood more that hearing a barely verbal child utter the “F” word in the wee hours of the night.

“Ugh, I can’t stand this.”

He always says this in a well-honed tone of annoyance—as in, you have pushed me to the limit and I have no patience left for you and your petty agenda! Like when I want to brush his teeth (how insulting!) or buckle his car seat (the horribly confining thing). You know, the tortuous necessities of parenting.

“That was damn good!”

In my defense, I’m pretty sure he got this one from my mom. The context was him pushing back his chair from a heartily eaten meal. I’m guessing he meant it as a compliment. Some cultures would appreciate this—it’s like burping, right? Yeah, he does that too. What can I say?

“Quit harassing me!”

This is one of those phrases that I didn’t know I said until I heard it out of his mouth. I felt pretty embarrassed when I heard it. But geez, he does harass me. Relentlessly and often. He must think it is his job, or maybe it’s his mission in life or something. He does use it appropriately, like when I want to leave the house on time for summer camp and work, or when it’s time to go to bed. Those are the times when the Harassing Mama makes an appearance.

“Give me that freaking phone!”

This was just last week. I had heard him use the term “freaking” before and every time it just cracks me up. I can’t help it! It is just so funny—he mimics my irritated manner so impeccably when he says this. I was talking to my mom when he made this particular demand—he wanted to say hello and I’d put him off for a minute so I could wrap up my conversation—the nerve!

“Are you kidding me?”

No, I am not kidding you. I am not kidding you that play time is over. I am not kidding you that you may not have another (3rd) Popsicle. I am not kidding you that we need to stop at the grocery store for milk and no, you cannot have M&M’s while we shop. I am not kidding—it really is a school day. I am absolutely not kidding you that it is time for bed!

So you see, I’m not perfect. I’m a mom who tries really hard to get it right and doesn’t make too big of deal out of it when I don’t. I’m willing to apologize and forgive myself. And I certainly don’t get mad at my son for talking to me in exactly the same tone and with exactly the same words I use when I speak to him. That’s totally my fault, not his.

Your famous phrases out of your child’s mouth?


Special Giveaway!

Please comment on this post about the famous phrases you hear coming out of your child’s mouth. Your comment enters you in the eBook Giveaway — to win an ebook copy of What Not to Say: Tools for Talking with Young Children, in the format of your choice: PDF, epub, or Kindle format. Sarah will be giving away one copy at each blog stop and will announce it on the comments of this post tomorrow. Be sure to leave your email so we can contact you in case you’re the winner!

Other stops and opportunities to win during this Blog Tour are listed on Sarah’s blog here:

Also, you can enter at Sarah’s site for the Grand Prize Giveaway:  a Kindle Touch. Winner will be announced at the end of the tour after July 15th. Go here to enter:

About The Author
Sarah MacLaughlin has worked with children and families for over twenty years. With a background in early childhood education, she has previously been both a preschool teacher and nanny. Currently, Sarah works as a licensed social worker with foster families at The Opportunity Alliance in South Portland, Maine.
She also teaches parenting classes and consults with families. In addition, Sarah serves on the board of Birth Roots, a perinatal resource center, and writes the “Parenting Toolbox” column for a local parenting newspaper, Parent & Family.
As reflected in her book, What Not to Say: Tools for Talking with Young Children, Sarah considers it her life’s work to promote happy, well-adjusted people by increasing awareness of how children are spoken to today.
In a busy modern life, while Sarah juggles her son, her job, her husband, her family, and time for herself, she’s also aiming for: mindful parenting, meaningful work, joyful marriage, connected family, and radical self-care. She is mom to a young son who gives her plenty of opportunities to take her own advice about What Not to Say. More information about Sarah and her work can be found at her site:

83 thoughts on “Sometimes I Really Mess Up–Guest Post and Giveaways

  1. LOL There is no such thing as perfect parenting!! I’ve always thought my kids were doing pretty good to SPITE me. You and I are on the same page. Sounds like your son would fit in well here.

    When my oldest was six, he was channel surfing through the cartoon channels while Scott and I were reading books. I heard something so familiar that I thought it was my husband was talking. “Pft…too many fu**ing commercials…” was said by that 6-yr-old so perfectly that I hardly looked up from my book. When I finally realized who said it, I immediately glared in shock at my husband who apparently did catch it either.

    No, I’m pretty sure my kids know all of the really bad words. I only pray that they practice them on the Grandma-type standing in line at the grocery.

      1. Ha! Thanks for that clarification, Shannon! My son blurted out something similar once when he spilled his Hot Wheels cars. When he was three years old. I’m pretty careful not to say the f word so I fullly blame his cousins.

        1. When my kids say “shuck-a-doodles” or “fudge-a-mudgins” or “crab-balls” or “aw…cheeses” THOSE are mine. They usually make people laugh (rather than the other response), so they rarely use them.

      2. I’ve said sh*t before MANY MANY times in front of my kids. It slips out at the worst moments. My husband has said the F word a few times. thankfully the kids tend to stick to repeating, OH, Barnacles! Or Fishsticks! thanks to Spongebob.

  2. “You’re killin’ me!” I hear this phrase pretty much 50 times per day. Half is from me. The other half is from my 7-yr-old daughter – who says it with even more verve than I do (in the “Rigby” tone). It’s a full body thing ’cause she rolls her eyes and drops her arms too. She’s really got it down and I hate that she got it from me.

  3. Ahh. Yes. The modeling is forever ongoing. And I claim 99% of the guilt in our house for modeling some not so appropriate language that comes out of our son. I have heard, “Son of a b*tch” a time or two. And a variety of others. In my defense, every time I hear him copy mommy, I use it as a teaching moment to learn what is not ok to say. He’s aware. I totally blame it on my shipping days and those crass sailors I hung out with.

      1. Yeah, good teachable moments! It’s also about respect for others. My own parents never tolerated any language. My dad would freak out if we even said the word ‘hell’ or ‘sucks’. I try to teach my kids not to use the word ‘stupid’ or ‘shut up’.

  4. I don’t have kids, but my sister apparently said something that my nephew unkowningly repeated at the age of three. My older nephew came to my sister, “Sam said a bad word.” My sister to Sam, “Did you?” Sam’s response–“All I said was ‘pain in the ass.'”

    Great post———–


  5. My son said “What the hell?” the other day. I was like, “where on earth did you hear that?” ((please not from me, please not from me)). He told me he heard my father (his grandfather) say it while he was staying with my parents the previous week. He thought it was funny. It kinda was, but I tried my hardest to put on my stern mommy voice and not giggle at my 7 year old saying that. Sigh.

  6. My kids are 20 and 22 so I am taking myself out of the contest!
    I never cussed around my kids, but they were raised at the tail end of the non-cussiing era. MTV ran videos and Nickleodeon was a great channel for kids. In fact that’s where mine watched Lassie and Flipper! My son Kelly once said, “I want to watch that dirty movie.”
    “What?” I nearly dropped half full coffee mug. “What dirty movie are you talking about?”
    “The one with the dog,”
    He was talking about Lassie. I think I blew coffee out through my nose!
    Language has hit an all time low and even I use words I would never have dreamed of using.
    Great interview! Good luck with your book!

  7. I love it when my kids try to parent me, like they’ve caught me and they can finally use my tactics. I’ve gotten more than once from my kids, “You weren’t listening” or “Does that make sense?” But I guess it’s better than them dropping the F-word in front of Grandma. It’s only a matter of time. 😉 Great post. Nice to know I’m not alone.

  8. My youngest is 23. When he was two, my wife was in the Commissary on base, grocery shopping. He asked my wife to carry him around the store. When she said ‘no’, he hollered out:
    “Is it because my penis is SO big??”

    I have NO idea where he got that from!! I’m totally serious, all the time. And never use sarcasm, or over-exaggeration.

    It’s one of the best kid stories in our family.

    BTW, Sarah, I LOVE your miusic! Especially “Angel.” 🙂

      1. Darla, Mj deserves an award for sure. He made tea come out from both my nose and mouth. Now I have to clean my room. 🙂 Mj you please give an warning message while writing such comments, “to keep the coffee mug on the table, before reading such comments”. :)LOL

  9. Great lines, Sarah. I have a friend who lets the F-bomb slip constantly. Then he was surprised when he heard his kids repeat those words and other cringe-worthy words. “Where’d they get that from?” I recall him saying. (I was trying hard not to laugh or point out who the offender was.)
    As a ‘grammy’ now, I have to avoid words such as ‘stupid’ around my grands. They are 11 and 9. They do have the eyeball roll perfected, but I’m really, really grateful that they do not use foul language.
    Best success on your book.

  10. I don’t have kids but I do work with them. However, the only really memorable phrase out of a kid’s mouth that I was hanging out with is two months ago, right before graduation, this club I belonged to was having a meeting and the teacher brought her three kids. Her middle child, 2, comes up to the teacher out of the blue, tugs at her dress, and points at me, sadly saying, “Mommy, that man said I couldn’t play frisbee.” It was hilariously, randomly weird.

    1. Random and weird–that sums up every kid I’ve ever known. My kids will walk into the room and blurt some line out that has nothing to do with anything. “Mom, my stomach is going to explode when I have a baby! I like pickles but I hate carrots! Dinosaurs are scary!” I’ll look around to see if they’re talking to me or they’re just having an imaginary conversation with themselves.

  11. I don’t have kids, but I said something weird to my mom when I was four. She was coaxing me to finish my dinner plate by saying something like, “If you don’t eat well, how will you grow up and take care of me?” I replied, “But mom, when I grow up, you won’t be there anymore.” When she asked me why, I said, “Because dad’s mom is not around anymore. And he is a boy like me. So my mom won’t be around either. Right?”

    1. I find the way a child’s mind works to be fascinating. What you said to your mom does make sense in a way. My daughter is always coming out with things that blow my mind, and they’re usually about death or other heavy subjects adults avoid. She’s so matter-of-fact about it. Once she said to me, “Mommy, when I grow up, where will you live? Will you be alive?” I said, “Yes, dear. I will be alive and living above your garage in an in-law apartment.”

  12. Deborah the Closet Monster

    Why, oh why, can I never remember a single freakin’ (couldn’t help myself!) thing when prompted? I know there are things my son says that crack me up, but not one of them is coming to mind at this moment. I’m sure that will change when I’m far away from my computer . . .

  13. What a great guest post, Darla! How cool. These quotes cracked me up – I can just picture it!

    I don’t have any kids, but I can share a story my mom loves to tell. On a road trip when I was 2, my [older] brother and sister were acting up. My mom turned around and said, “Behave yourself!” I looked at both of them and said, “Yeah! Shave your house!”

    “Shave your house” has been a common phrase in our family for the past 28 years. I use it on the dog all the time.

    1. Hahaha!!! Oh my lord. That is hilarious! You kill me. That reminds me of when Julia said to me, “Mommy, I’m trying real hard to have (sounds like cave) Am I ‘having’ now?” because she always hears me telling them to “behave”. 😀

  14. Even though my kids (and grandkids) are grown already, this was a fun read. It had me taking one or two trips down memory lane. Despite what a lot of us think as parents, kids really DO listen to what we say (even when we wish they wouldn’t).

    My youngest son once sat down at my in-laws’ dinner table, and announced, (in his authoritative two year old voice), “I’m not eating this crap!” We were just a tiny bit mortified, but my father-in-law laughed so much that he started using the phrase all the time, (which only served to aggravate and annoy my mother-in-law). It became a tradition, especially at formal family gatherings, such as the holidays. We’d all gather around the table, and sure enough, my father-in-law would just HAVE to pipe up say, in his booming voice, “I’m not eating this crap!” and then my young son, (who was already a father himself by then), would crack up, and the giggles would spread around the room.

    My poor, poor mother-in-law. Thankfully, she adored her grandson, so she couldn’t help smiling a little bit every time, too. I still giggle when I recall the memory of that little two year old read-headed munchkin uttering those famous words. Who knew he was building a family tradition? Who knew we’d have to hear that phrase, over and over again, hundreds of times in our life time? Thankfully, the smiles still cling to the memory.

    Thanks for sharing this guest post. Very nicely done. The post was enjoyable, as are all the comments that followed. Our words, even when speaking to little people, are really important. And none of us, no matter how hard we try, escape making some mistakes as we parent. Sometimes, if we’re lucky, our bloopers end up being the source of smiles.

    1. Loved your son’s story. I hear “I’m not eating this crap!” a lot at my house but it’s usually coming from me.

      You’re so right about kids being like little sponges soaking up everything we do and say. My kids have supersonic hearing, too. I could whisper something three rooms over and they’ll hear it.

  15. No kids of course, but my cat comes out with some weird stuff.

    My niece did say to me “you’re the cleverest person I know” It’s not funny, but it’s good to know she’s that astute at her age.

    1. I would venture to say she is the cleverest person to realize that you are clever.

      When are you doing a guest post from your cat? I’m sure she’s got plenty to say and unleash onto the world.

  16. I try not to swear in front of my kids, which means that they only here things on “special occasions”. That seems to give “special” status to them. Oh well.
    Worst thing? My 12 year old has a very dry sense of humor. I really, really, love jokes. I can’t usually remember them. Evidently he can. When he asked my favorite joke growing up- all I could remember were jokes I really (REALLY) can’t tell him. Then I remembered and told this:
    ” What do toilet paper and the Starship Enterprise have in common?”
    “They both circle Uranus looking for Kling-ons”.
    So when he was chastised for telling the same joke in class (“What would your mother say if…”) he said “ARE YOU KIDDING??? That’s her all time favorite joke !”

  17. Great guest post, Sarah! And thanks, Darla!

    My daughter says, “What the heck?!” A Lot. I don’t know if it’s really bad though — I mean, it’s certainly not really, really bad. So I don’t know how to correct it. She definitely gets it from me. Oh, and I cuss like a sailor when they’re not around or when I’m in the front seat of the car (when they’re fighting so loud that they apparently drown it out).

    My son has started pointing to women’s breasts and saying “mommy milk”. Ugh.

    1. My kids both have pointed at women’s breasts and said something like that, Angie. When Christian was three, he once yelled BOOBIES BOOBIES! BOOBIES! in walmart at the top of his lungs when he saw the bra section.

  18. Haha– this post is priceless, and so are all the comments! I once saw a young kid and her mom in a craft shop. The kid put her hands on her hips and scolded her mom: “There are only three happy people in this store right now, and YOU’RE NOT ONE OF THEM!” After that, *everyone* in the store couldn’t help but smile. 🙂

  19. Okay, I’m gonna come clean, I’ve been holding this back from the League of Proper Parenting for too long. This was A LONG time ago and my kids have mostly turned out okay… you know… thanks to their Mom! Anyway, when my son was very young we noticed this tendency for him to say, when he was frustrated with a toy or something… “Stupid Bits!” Now, that all sounds perfectly harmless, right??? Until my wife informed me that when I was screaming about busting up my hand while cranking an over tightened bolt off the lawn mower or some other unfortunate injury… I had a tendency to say “stupid bitch” likely along with some other choice words. So we now had a kid saying “Stupid Bits” every time he couldn’t fit a square block through a round hole… ummm… yeah, okay, father of the year award! But, like I said before, he’s turned out okay… so far!

  20. Well, my child is in utero at the moment, so she has yet to say anything, per se, but she is communicating quite effectively through astonishingly powerful kicks. In fact, just night she said something to the effect of “Look, I promise to be good at math, just stop playing all the f***ing Mozart!” Quiet. Daily regiment of Mozart starts. POUND POUND POUND POUND POUND POUND POUND. Mozart stops. Quiet.

    1. B-man, why must you be so damn funny so early in the morning? With my first kid, I also subjected my poor son to daily doses of Mozart (I bought the little headphones that you put on your tummy…yeah…like that’s not crazy) And my son also kicked the crap outta me. And now he’s almost 10 and hates most music. I’m not even kidding. But he is a math genius. (again, I am being dead serious, he’s in the gifted and talented program for math, does sixth grade level stuff!)

  21. Darla I know I am not eligible for this giveaway; as I am not married yet. 🙂 Still as a son, I remember once my mom asked me, “What is the most precious gift I can gift her? ” And my reply was, “A daughter in law, who will not take this ‘in-law’ part too seriously and mom, when I will find that right girl, I am going to gift her the most wonderful mother- in law, who is not going to take that ‘in law’ part too seriously”. And My mom had no reply to that answer. 🙂
    But the one liners which I use a lot in past 27 years as a son are, “Mom, I am no more a kid now” and “Mom, do I need to tell you, how much I love you.” 🙂

  22. Not sure how this fits in but from a young age I have been teaching my kids how to say “Ow! That gentleman was struck in the genitals.” in a much more socially acceptable way. Being an immature Aussie dad, having a way to share the humour with your kids when someone is struck in the gentlemanly area is almost mandatory. Here are some of the phrases that they have been taught.

    Ow! Right in the Jatz crackers!
    Ow! Right in the bread basket!
    Ow! Right in the Kiwis! (reference to kiwi fruit not bird or nationality)
    Ow! Right in the Olsen Twins!
    Ow! Somebody found his Nemos!
    Ow! Right in the Benjamin Buttons!

    The list goes on and on and the kids have even come up with their own variants. Not sure if this is a good or a bad thing as a parent but we sure have a good laugh when we see someone get struck in the castanets and are never lost for words.

    1. hahahahahaa! All of them are hilarious, but the Olsen Twins killed me! You are quite possibly the best dad ever. These are good to know, I’ll be sure to tell my husband because for some reason, our son never fails to hit him in the bits and pieces when they play ball. Hell, sometimes he’ll just walk up and sock him there for no reason at all.

  23. When our son was two or three, he combined a couple of phrases into one distorted (but perfectly understandable) expression. He’d heard someone say, “Get off my back!” and he’d also picked up “You’re getting on my nerves.” So when one of us did something to irritate him, he’d say, “Get off my nerves!” I would try to annoy him on purpose, just to hear him say it.

    Great post, Sarah and Darla. Thank you for acknowledging the imperfection of all parents, and for doing so with humor and sensitivity.

  24. A truck cut us off when I driving down the road with then-8-year-old Lizzy in the back. Forgetting who was with me I blurted out, “You f**ker!” She said, puzzled, “what did you say, Mom?” I thought up a lie and I thought it up quick, “You trucker!”. Whew!

    Great guest post, Sarah. Looks like Darla isn’t spending 24/7 in the kiddie pool with a 6 pack.

  25. My kids have a tendency to say, “What in the name of Mike?”
    I haven’t a clue where they heard it. Neither Rob nor I say it. Well, that’s not true. I now say it because I’ve heard the kids say it so frequently. Hmmm…. learning from your kids. Is that normal?

    Excellent post, Sarah. Great guest, Darla!

          1. I am behind on reading posts, Darla. I want to enter the embarrassing contest – but I haven’t had a chance to stop. I hope to catch up with posts today. We leave tomorrow – first thing. ACK! So excited. Wave to us on Friday. We’re heading all the way up to Bangor from Harrisburg, PA. ACK! So excited. Did I say that already? 🙂

  26. So, my children are adults now. My eldest has a 3 almost 4 year old son of his own. They use to tell me my very Southern, ‘Bring that narrow ass here so I can tear a knot in it!’ was terribly rude.


    Don’t think so any longer do you my darling?

    Guess what I heard slipping from my sons lips the other day?

    Excellent post!

  27. John Erickson

    Hey, you’re being discriminatory! How the heck am I supposed to have any chance when the weirdest things my kids say are “woof” and “meow”? Well, unless you count the one cat who swears at the birds outside the window, or the dog who tunes his bark so he can reverberate the sheet-metal gas heater upstairs. (As opposed to the cat who came with some friends who stayed with us back in Chicago, who I taught to “sit”, “give paw”, and “speak” – the cat would make a little chirping sound that was his best mimic of “woof”.)
    Now BEHAVIOUR, I got that area COVERED. The Border Collie terrified of sheep, the Cattle Dog that talked with the ram of our friends’ flock (different friends from the first ones I mentioned) and wandered through hotels eating everybody’s soap, our one cat who gave our old arthritic Collie massages on his sore hip – heck, I even have stories of a white mouse that loved to ride on our HO railroad set when I was growing up.
    Yes, we NEVER get a “normal” pet…..

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