What’s a Mother to Do?
by Ann Edwards Cannon

Chapter 9
How to Fight Like a five-Year-Old 

[p.28]So there I was in front of the YWCA, waist deep in slush, juggling a baby on one hip and a fifty-ton diaper bag on the other, trying to convince my five-year-old son to follow me inside.

ME: You’ll have fun.

DYLAN: I don’t want to go today.

ME: Come on, Sweetheart. Let’s cooperate.

DYLAN: Where’s my turtle blimp?

ME: At home on your shelf. Please come inside with me. I’m getting cold, and I’ll bet you’re getting cold, too.


ME (wondering why an intelligent person like myself is having a conversation about turtle blimps in public): Dylan, please—

DYLAN: I HATE PLEASE! (Falls on the ground and screams loudly so that people walking by will be sure to think that his mother is abusing him.)

Normally at that point I would have tucked Dylan beneath my arm like a football and carried him through the door, only I didn’t have any arms—sort of like that time in high school when I played donkey basketball.

(DONKEY BASKETBALL: A variety of basketball in which both teams try to make shots while mounted on donkeys who trot up and down the court looking for spectators to trample.)

Playing donkey basketball was like having no arms because I was hanging on for dear life every time somebody threw me the ball which meant that I kept getting hit in the head.

I’m sure you’ve all had a similar experience.

Anyway, Dylan wouldn’t budge. Not only that but my arms were going into extreme shock thanks to the baby who was (a) eating my hair and (b) putting his fingers in my ear, so I lost it right there in front of the Y.

[p.29]ME: If you don’t come with me right now, I’m going to sneak into your room tonight and THROW ALL YOUR NINJA TURTLES STRAIGHT OUT THE WINDOW!

DYLAN: Uh-uh!

ME: Uh-huh!

DYLAN: Okay fine then I’ll just lock my door.

ME: Okay fine then I’ll just break it down with my numchuks.



DYLAN (sticking his tongue out): You’re so mean.

ME (sticking my tongue out): I know you are but what am I?

At this point Dylan knew he’d been whipped, so he surrendered and followed me meekly inside.

For awhile I felt very guilty about being reduced to a five-year-old’s level, but then a new thought occurred to me: generally speaking, we parents try to behave like adults when handling differences with our children which is actually pretty stupid of us because kids have never been adults themselves and therefore have no idea what we’re talking about. For this reason, I’ve decided that if you want to win arguments with your children, you have to fight like they do.

The following is a handy guide that explains how to fight like a kid of any age.

How to Fight Like a Toddler
If you want to fight like a two-year-old, be sure to scream NO a lot and throw stuff, especially food.

How to Fight Like a Grade School Kid
A very useful tactic is to echo whatever your adversary says because it ultimately drives them mad. Here’s how it works:

CHILD: I don’t want to clean my bedroom.

YOU: I don’t want to clean my bedroom.

CHILD: Mom, quit it!

YOU: Mom, quit it,

CHILD: Copy-cat.

YOU: Copy-cat.

[p.30]How to Fight Like a Fourteen-year-old Girl

No doubt about it. Fighting like a fourteen-year-old girl requires a lot of emotional energy. It can be done, however, as the following conversation demonstrates.

TEEN: Mom, I don’t want to practice the piano.

YOU (whining): But all the other mothers’ daughters practice

the piano!

TEEN: Mom—

YOU: YOU DON’T UNDERSTAND! NOBODY UNDERSTANDS! (Dissolve into tears, run to your bedroom and slam the door, then pick up the telephone and call [a] your best friend or [b] a boy you met at the mall yesterday.)

You’ll notice that I don’t give any pointers on how to fight like a baby. That’s because babies don’t fight. They just sit there drooling and pulling off their socks and being totally charming in a wet kind of way and, before you know it, you’re hooked for good which is why you put up with them for the rest of their lives.

Babies are pretty darn sneaky if you ask me.