Home - Top Row


Home - Bottom Row

Let's Panic: The Book!

Order your copy today!

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

Some Books
I'm In...

Sleep Is
For The Weak

Chicago Review Press

Home - Middle Row

Let's Panic

The site that inspired the book!

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. → 

« You are all sick. | Main | Be good, for goodness' sake »

Give me your worst parenting stories

I need them. For my mental health.

And no, not the stories of other horrible people messing up—the stories of good, virtuous you messing up.

I need to know that you can be a good parent and still deeply, deeply suck at it, at times. Today, for instance. When I yelled so loudly at my son that my throat still hurts. (Did you know that mittens are an instrument of torture? That socks are painful? Neither did I, until I met Henry.) Thank god I don't have a deadline tonight because I need this glass of wine. And I need to go to bed before 8. And wake up in a few years, when he's able to dress himself.

Speaking of deadlines, a new Wonderland is up!

And now it's time for you to share your Stories of Parental Ineptitude. I know you won't let me down.

Now that I think of it, I'm holding a contest. The Parental Ineptitude tale that amuses me most will win...something. I haven't thought that through yet. My deep and abiding respect? Something like that. I need to have more wine and think about it.

Reader Comments (240)

Okay- so my son had been getting really fussy about sitting in his infant carrier and I was just plain tired of it. Everyday he just wanted to stay and play. When I picked him up from my mom's house after work, he started the usual fight. I stuffed him in anyway, kicking, squirming and screaming saying "it's for you own good! You have to be safe." Then he kept screamig in the car---not typical---and as we walked in the house---and after I took him out. I layed him on his belly next to my husband and saw A HUGE CIRCLE PRESSED INTO HIS BACK! I HAD STRAPPED HIM INTO THE CARSEAT WITH A BOTTLE LID UNDER HIM! After 2 days the ring went away. My husband still refers to the time that I "branded" him...
January 8, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterAutumn S
My then 4-year-old daughter had already gotten up (and woken me up) several times during the night. Her brain has no "off" switch. So when she started tapping me on the back of the head at 4:30am, I sat up and screamed "For the love of God, will you just fucking SLEEP already?!?!"

Only to realize that the little angel had brought me breakfast in bed.
January 8, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterCarol
When I was in high school, I used to wake up in the night with the worst chest pains. Sometimes I would wake my mom up to comfort me. She would always tell me to get over it, it can't be that bad. This goes on for a few months. Finally mom [who is a nurse] decides to take me to the doctor. Turns out I had the worst case of gallstones the doctor had seen and went into surgery the next day.

My sister came home from a party one night complaining that her foot was killing her. My dad, who is a physical therapist, checked her out and told her it was fine. A few days later, still in pain, my mom takes her to the doctor. Turns out the foot was broken! whoops

My mom always tells a story of how one day, when my sister and I were little, she completely lost it. She locked us both in the bathroom -to keep from killing us- for a few hours. Only when our whimpering had stopped did she let us out.
January 8, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterElizabeth
The Cast: Father, Mother, and three Daughters, ages Six, Five and One;

The Scene: Mother and Father are packing up the Family Car for a restful one-week "vacation" at The In-Laws;

The Daughters are being stubborn and fussy about getting in the Family Car in a timely manner; there is much poking about and dallying. Six and Five, in particular, are bickering non-stop while Father tells them for the kajillionth time, "I SAID, get in and buckle up." Five and Six continue to complain and whine, and do not comply with Father's command. They are acting like children of the Devil. Mother makes one last trip to the house to lock the door. Moments later, when she returns to the Car, Five and Six are tightly strapped into their car seats, and there is an eerie silence. Six is barely holding back tears. Mother looks at Father and raises her eyebrows, as if to say, "WTF happened while I was gone?" Father is in the driver's seat, jaws firmly clenched together. Before he has a chance to say anything, Five blurts out: "Dad's not nice! He called us... TWERPS!"

("Get into the car NOW, you twerps!" is still our favorite Father quote, three years later.)

January 8, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterSheila
I can't add my story because I think you wrote it. Down to the glass of wine. Only mine happened about three days after yours and included great shouting (mine and the 3.5 year olds) and full tearful meltdown (mine).

Thank you for letting me know I'm not alone :)!
January 8, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterShauntelle
I gave my stepdaughter two swats last summer with a small wooden paddle we use as a last resort. The next day, she had swimming at her after-school program and was changing clothes when one of the teachers saw the red spot on her tush. There was no bruise, just a small red square where the paddle hit her on one of her butt cheeks. Although we are very active, involved parents and rarely spank our kids, this teacher (who didn't know us), called child protective services on us. Worst weekend of our lives (it happened on a Friday, of course) as we sat in our home, helpless and kidless, feeling like the worst parents ever. The claim was unsubstantiated, but it terrified us on many different levels and the whole thing now has me constantly second guessing myself and my parenting, although until then, we thought we were pretty darn good parents.
January 8, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterSheila
I have yelled at my daughter, held her down forcibly and realized that if I react so irrationally when frustrated I really shouldn't be so hard on her when she does (she's only 19 months). My tantrums are eerily similar to hers, hmm wonder where she gets that from.

The story I am going to share though is something that my mom did to me. In my house the abuse was all emotional, which even my mom admits to. One night my mom decided it would be funny to make me think I was going deaf, so she spoke only in whispers. When I asked why she was whispering she said she wasn't and that I must be going deaf. I was old enough that I never totally believed her, but she wouldn't stop. It was incredibly annoying and it went on long enough that I started to get a little bit worried that maybe I really was going deaf.
January 8, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterwwbd
the kenobies put on a show

oncet upon a time there was a parent [that parent may possibly have been me] who decided to take a shower. whilst doing so, her youngest son (all of three-years-old) figured out how to escape the house through his bedroom window. i went to check on the boys, realized that we had a run away...and yelled to the five-year-old to go outside and look for his brother. then i grabbed some shorts forewent a bra and shoes and ran out of the house.

i have decided that the kid is drowning in a neighbor's murkey scum covered pool. the surface isn't moving, so i move on, but it is still in the back of my head that he's in there. then i check the neighbors to the other side. i go to their door to ask them if they have any holes in their yard, when the kid saunters up in a t-shirt and undies BUT NO PANTS.

at this point i realize that i have lost the five-year-old.

i yell at the youngest like the world is at an end (if your brother hadn't left to find you he wouldn't be lost!)and throw him in the van. on the way i see two teen girls. i ask them to send the kid my way if they see him.

and i continue driving up and down the street calling the kids name. i might be exaggerating, but i think someone asked if i had lost the dog again. *ahem* not that the dog ever gets loose.

i go around the block. no kid. by that time, i may have been a little hysterical.

at this point i return to the neighbor's house to talk to them again. the teen girls appear with five-year-old in tow. i had missed him because he had just kept going up the street looking rather than gone around the block.

so, let us review, shall we?

the neighbors witnessed a shoeless, braless, wetheaded woman hysterically running up and down the street, and then driving up and down the street, in an effort to find not ONE, but TWO of her children.

takes a bow.

and they all lived happily after. (relatively speaking)
January 8, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterrobiewankenobie
I have so my many moments where I could have been better- it feels like daily with my 3 yr old DS, who has autism.My worst and most memorable moment was when he was 10 months old.DS was an early walker, and he was toddling around the nursery while I was trying to show him some books. He ignored me. So I begin reading to him in a loud animated voice (He WILL love the reading, dammit!), using different pitches for different character. After about two pages, I look up to seem him standing completely still, his eyes big as saucers. Thinking him enraptured with my mad reading skills, I continue as he toddles towards me, his mouth open, arms outstretched.I am breathless with excitement- he is toddling over to KISS ME, he loves to be read to! He grabs my face, leans in and- bites down on my lower lip.And hangs on for dear life.In excruciating pain, visions of plastic surgery flashing in my brain because it feels like he has bitten through! my! lip! I slowly lower him to the ground while clutching him to my chest so he won't rip my lip off, then I pry his iron jaws apart while trying not to murder him. I go look in the mirror to see if my lip is intact- it is, just twelve times its normal size. I then calmly call my mother, and when she answered, I just burst into tears."I (sob) don't (choke) like (sob) this (snuffle) chillllllllld!" I then begin wailing.My mom came over and got him, and I took a nap. She was impressed I didn't smack him, but I might have if the pain had not been so blindingly awful. All I could think was "Must STOP PAIN. Must KEEP LIPS!"Ironically, at 3.5, he still hates to be read to- it is one of his autism quirks.I have also lost him in the mall- but knew where to find him, and wan't really even panicked. I feel bad for not panicking.
January 8, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterMia C.
Ever put your screaming 4 year old who does not want to bathe into the (filled) tub with clothes still on?

I even have a photo of that.
January 9, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterChris
This post will be unpopular - because - on the whole, your post makes it apparant that you are an involved and loving parent.

But, a "small red square" that is still present the next day IS a bruise.

That said, I truly feel for you spending a weekend without the child - that must've been the worst kind of seemingly endless torture.
January 9, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterKatherine
Oh, I'm right there with you. All of you.

Here's one of my "proudest" moments. We adopted a little girl who'd been home for about 3 months. Needless to say, she'd had some difficult nights since she came home. Me, a new mom, summoned for the second or third time, half-asleep and already sleep-deprived, stomped into her room and demanded in my snottiest voice: "What in the name of GAWD could you POSSIBLY want?"

Oh yeah. Proud of that one.
January 9, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterMary, Queen of Snots
Okay, so I'm a SAHM to my 3.5 yo twin boys, and we live in an apartment. One of said boys has been going through a big ol' nudist phase the past couple months. Most days I fight a few rounds with him about it, but by the time I'm going to put his clothes on for the 4th time that day, I'm ready to just let the little weirdo be naked.

So one day, I'm about to kick off another round in the Battle of the Clothes, when there's a knock on our door. It's one of the building maintenance guys, saying he just needs to check our smoke detector.

I say, "Sure," with my mind only on getting this guy in and out so I can try to get my kid in clothes, and forgetting that we'd taken the smoke detector down the night before because it had gone off while we were cooking dinner. I explain, shame-facedly, why it's not on the wall and go to find it in its usual place (we have this problem a lot), and it's not there.

So there I am, calling my husband to find out where on EARTH he may have stashed the smoke detector, while this poor repair guy stands there trying not to look at my naked son cavorting on the couch, and doing things like bending over to look at the maintenance guy from between his legs, giving everyone in the room a disturbing view of his anus.

I'm working towards having my own wing in the Bad Mom Hall of Fame, in case anyone's curious.
January 9, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterThorn
I was in Dollar Tree with my 23 month old son who LOVES balloons. They had them, only $1 of course, so I thought why not? So we walk up to Kmart, and we're in there maybe 30 seconds when he bites the balloon and it bursts. Now he is screaming at the top of his lungs, not bc it broke but bc I insist on carrying it with us, so as not to leave it laying on the floor like he wants me to. It was right in front of the pharmacy too, so there were these older women in line, one even shaking her head in disapproval at us (made me want to go kill her, but that's beside the point.) Needless to say, we hightailed it out of there, and I asked the cashier on the way out to please dispose of the burst balloon. Once he could no longer see it, he was fine. I could have killed him....
January 9, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterCraftykimmy
Thorn's post made me literally laugh out loud, we're going through the same nudist phase here....
January 9, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterCraftykimmy
Delurking to say, I love you. This was a day I felt like I should maybe be committed? Either I am SO, totally normal for having these moments or we should all go to the crazy house together. Either way, I am so, SO glad I am not alone. I really get stressed with a 2 year old and a 10 month old. So glad I am not alone. Thank you!
January 9, 2008 | Unregistered Commentermandy
Christmas morning 2006. 3 adults (myself included) and an 11 month old baby are sitting in the living room amidst the opened presents and piles of wrapping paper. Suddenly we hear a loud THUD. Being the incredibly attentive parent that I am I think nothing of it until my brother comes up the stairs with the baby in his arms. The baby that had just rolled down the stairs!!! Oops.

A few weeks ago my now 2 year old and her almost 4 yr old sister were jumping on the guest bed while I vacuumed the room. Once it occurred to me to that someone would likely get hurt I looked up...just in time to see the 4 yr old go flying off the edge of the bed. She landed on the corner of a wooden chest and got a nasty 6" scrape and bruise across her chest. Saw that one coming! Too late.

My mom should get some sort of award. When I was little and throwing a tantrum she would throw me in the tub and run cold water on me!!
January 9, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterCatherine
Since I'm not a mother yet (or maybe ever, after reading these?) I'll share a story from my baby-sitting days. I was a baby-sitting crazed teenager (not the worst way I could have been spending my time) and prided myself on being so much fun that the kids were always so tuckered out I had no problems with bedtime.

That was, until Claire. She was about 3, and had been on my last nerve all evening. Mostly, bless her heart, because I couldn't understand a word she was saying. Her mother had left detailed instructions, especially about bedtime. I glanced it over - diaper, bath, etc. Piece of cake. Except when I left the room, Claire starts screaming. "But we didn't pway! Want to pway! Puh-weeeeeez puh-waaaaaay!" "No, we already played, no more playing. Go to sleep."

I was just about ready to scream, so I walked back to the kitchen to cool off. There, on her mother's list, I see the last part of her bedtime routine: say her prayers.

The poor thing just wanted to PRAY!! I ran back, and let her ramble on and on in her "pwa-rers" through her hiccup-y half sobs just about as long as she wanted! Man did I feel like a heel.
January 9, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterLiz
All these posts about wandering children reminds me of when my brother was small. I was in school, but he was still at home. When I returned home from school, my mother told me the frightening story of her day. My brother had disappeared at some point, and my mother went mad around the neighborhood looking for him. Knocking on doors, calling the friends around the block.... Strangely, however, his shoes were still in the house... she tore apart the house, and found him, sound asleep... behind the closed doors... of his closet.
January 9, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterDQ
I can't stop reading these! I'm rather good at throwing tantrums, myself, but I haven't seen this one yet: "Get undressed and get in that tub before I throw you in, clothes and all!" Um, yep, really did that. Plopped my 4-year-old son into a full bathtub in his pjs. And then tried not to laugh. Bad Bad Mommy.
January 10, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterPatti
Like others here, I had a cringing decision to make: Which of many stories to write about.

In kindergarten my son came home one day saying he was really hungry. When asked about the lunch we'd sent with him, he said he couldn't eat it because the bread in his sandwich was "blue." Parental eyes were rolled, because it's so annoying when the kid's imagination is put to use giving bullshit excuses.

The next day we made him a similar lunch, including another sandwich. Which he also didn't eat. But this time, the teachers pulled my husband aside when he picked my son up, to gently point out that the bread in kid's sandwich was moldy. I checked the remainder of the loaf, and it really WAS blue in places. Who knew bread mold was blue? Nice of us to notice.

I'm certain that for the rest of the year his teachers checked his lunch carefully before letting him take a bite of anything.

Still, another mom at our daycare has a real winner story. She ran into a store and left her 3-year old in the carseat, listening to her favorite CD. Okay, not kosher. Someone saw her daughter in the car, and called and reported her (via license plate number) to child protective services, who called her and made an appointment to do a home visit. She felt chastened and really humiliated, but that isn't the good part of the story. The good part is the day before the visit, she was carrying her 1-yr-old down the steps, slipped, fell, and got his leg caught between banisters, breaking it. Yeah, she broke her baby's leg 24 hours before she had a CPS appointment.

January 10, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterHateMakingLunches
Yesterday was a bad parenting day. It was my son's 12th birthday and I invited friends for tea at 4pm when he got in from school. He was very happy. Then when his cornet teacher turned up at 5pm followed by swimming at 6 and sea cadets at 7 he realised that I hadn't cancelled anything from his busy day and he wasn't so happy. At least I now know that he needs a quiet hour somewhere in his day.

I ratted on Santa when my son was 6 and my daughter was 5. Well he did ask and it was January.A couple of years later my then 7 year old daughter asked me. "Mum, does Santa visit children who still believe in him."

When she was 2 1/2 years old my husband took my son to the toilet leaving me and my daughter on the beach. Except that she went with him and I thought he knew. The couple who followed her back to me must have thought I was the worst mother in the world. The first I know that things didn't go according to plan was when DD reappeared on the beach. She's obviously fine so no need to panic. The couple who found her on a busy road clearly thought I should have been upset.I failed to fasten my son into his baby seat twice. You'd think I'd have learnt.Dora (thinking backwards in time here)
January 11, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterDora
Its a day I'll never forget. One of which I'm not proud of but still, to this day, I wonder how my child will survive my parenting.

It was very cold and snowing and we were leaving the grocery store. My daughter was 10 months old at the time. I placed her in her car seat, turned the car on, heat on high, and then shut the door to protect her from the wind as I went around back to place the groceries in. Immediately upon shutting hte door I heard the CLICK of the doors locking.kid in on and heat on high.child fully clothed and locked into car seat.doors locked.

I panicked. screamed. Other mom's tried their key fobs in the hope of helping to unlock my car. My child starts to scream. top of her lungs. The store manager calls the police. Someone lends me their cell phone to call my husband. Who proceeds to jump in his car at home with the spare set of keys and sets off for the WRONG fucking grocery store.

30 minutes later, the police arrive (after the first cop responded to our call only be redirected to someone having a heart attack at the other end of the parking lot). OUR cop must be about 20 years old and childless because he is totally unflustered by the primal screams coming from the car. Even the store manager is getting annoyed with him. He starts to tell us that he cannot use the jimmy to open the door until I sign a release, then is so pathetic with the tool that i grab it from him.

by now, my husband has realized his mistake, shows up, and we open the car ONLY after my child has passed out from the extreme heat and screaming. I called my mom (crying hysterically) on the way home to tell her that I now know that my husband is the VERY LAST person you want to have in your lifeboat after he went to the wrong store, hated me for having made the mistake and INSISTED that the car doors do not lock in that situation. I actually had to perform a demonstration for him in the driveway when we got home.

For months, she wouldn't let me gas up the car while she was in it (and I got a new car one week later - still hate that f'in Grand Caravan). I still wonder why I didn't break a window.

Now someone please tell me that my child is not scarred from this. I know that any tendency towards claustrophobia will DEFINITELY be my fault.
January 11, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterashamed to this day
Why are you making me tell this story? Why? I was at a pumpkin patch where some farmer had built his own non-safety-tested playground equipment. At the time, my son was... oh... four years old, I think. He wanted to go down one of the slides but it looked kind of steep. My wife did not want him to do it, but me being the dad that wanted him to do the big boy stuff wanted him to go for it. He slid down feet first on his belly... very fast. I remember that one of his shoes came off as he hit bottom and he started crying. I thought he was just spooked at the fast descent. He did not want to walk any more, but he was able to. He was very fussy for the rest of the day. I was very firm with him and demanded that he walk. He kept walking funny for days after that, and we decided he needed new shoes. The shoes helped but did not solve the problem and it went of for about three weeks. He went for a regular checkup and we mentioned it to his pediatrician who said it was likely a "toddler fracture". He said it is quite common. I was the gruff tough-guy ass who made him walk with his fracture, however. In my defense, I have bipolar disorder. Yup... that's right... bonafide mental problems that I can blame stuff on (*DISCLAIMER* I am not making light of disorders... I am not fabricating this and was likely manic at the time).

Now... I have another story that was purely accidental in nature and even more traumatizing for me involving him... but that is another thread I would think.... stupid parent accidents.

For what it is worth, my son and I are doing quite well (and wife). We have a very warm relationship that does not encourage being the stupid tough guy.... he knows it's very okay to cry, etc... he asks for daddy to snuggle with often, so I have nurtured away much of my past gruffness.
January 11, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterTerry
How about leaving my crazy-girl 7 month old crying in her crib to cry (after the longest, whiningest day which followed the worst-ever week of no sleep for me) so I can read this post and laugh my ASS OFF and feel a little like things will ALL WORK OUT.

PS. I still kind of feel like mittens are torture.
January 11, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterthe new girl

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.

My response is on my own website »
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>