How to Teach Your Child to Ignore You.

We go to Barnes and Noble a lot. And by a lot, I mean a whole lot. Hudson likes trains, Max likes books and we like coffee. It’s win-win-win.

One of my favorite things to do is to parent watch.

I promise, I am not embellishing a bit. In fact, I am pretty sure I left somethings out. Today’s mom left me utterly speechless.
I’ll set the scene:
It’s about 5:30pm and pretty quiet at Barnes and Noble. Hudson was quietly playing with every single train on the table. Max was reading me I Must Have Bobo! when a mother in her mid to late 30’s came in with her son about Hudson’s age.

She plopped herself in a chair near Max and I (who were on the floor) and her large pottery barn kids -like tote filled with parenting supplies made a klunk on the floor.

She was wearing what can only be described as sweats. (I didn’t look so hot myself, just trying to create the visual) She looked as though she had come from some sort of high impact aerobics class and had the sweaty hairband, and sneakers to prove it. She was not a small woman and had one of those “loud voices” that she probably boasts about from time to time finding it somehow endearing. Her son, we’ll soon learn, is named Timmy. He is adorable.

Here is the next 5 minutes or so (felt like an hour) after she sat in in her chair:

Timmy near the table watching Hudson play with all the trains. I wait for her to suggest that he ask Hudson for a train, which is my cue to ask Hudson to share, but he doesn’t approach the table and seems content to watch.

“Timmy, don’t bother that child.” (Clearly she was unsure whether or not our long haired son was a boy or a girl.)
I get up, break apart Hudson’s 10 car train and give a few to the boy. I go back to Max.

Timmy stares at them. Quietly, Hudson takes them all back.

“Timmy I brought you some trains. Do you want me to get your trains? Timmy? Timmy do you want your trains? Don’t loose your train Timmy. I brought your Thomas.”

Timmy does not move.

“Timmy, Timmy, come get your trains.”

She takes two trains and puts them on the table then she turns to Hudson.

“ Which way are the trains going today?”

Hudson doesn’t answer. He doesn’t even look. The trains aren’t moving. At this point I’m half listening to Max, half to Timmy’s mom.

“Which way are the trains going? Are they going this way or that way?”

He continues to ignore her — he’s not much of a talker and certainly not to strangers. I’d speak up for him but I’m at a loss for words.

“Timmy make your trains go this way, I think he’s going this way so you take them this way”

She does some pointing and sits back down. Timmy touches his trains to the track-

“Timmy have some juice.”

She pulls out a clear sippy cup of some kind, inside is a purplish juice with ice cubes… I had hoped she came from the gym, apparently not.

“Have some juice Timmy, have some juice for mommy”

I had also hoped that this was a well meaning aunt and not a mom talking to her child this way.

She shoves the juice in front of him, he whines.

“Timmy have some juice. I know you are tired Timmy” ( I assume she’s saying this for my benefit because there is no reason to tell him, but still, I don’t look up) “But please have some juice for mommy”

Timmy has a sip of the juice, gives it back and finally begins to play.

“Timmy, do you want your Thomas?” Somehow she seems to be getting louder, though I am not sure that’s possible ” If you want Thomas you cant loose him. You can’t loose Thomas Timmy. If you loose Thomas then he’ll be gone. Don’t loose Thomas.”

Unable to resist, I sneak a peek at her.  She is sitting on the edge of her chair about a foot and a half away from her son, leaning forward, elbows on her knees, hands propping up her face intently watching him. She is ready for action at a moments notice. Timmy stands clutching his train clearly wanting to interact with Hudson but unable to find the words.  Normally I’d help here, but Hudson was basically unaware that these two existed and Max had been doing a pretty good job reading so I let them work it out.


“Mom.” Max is pulling at my sleeve “I can’t concentrate”

We move to the opposite side of the children’s area, leaving Jeff and Hudson to endure Timmy’s mom, but we can still “Timmy” and then some whining and crying from across the room.

It’s time to go.

I head back to Jeff who has more patience than me. Timmy is holding a box with a new train inside. He’s simply looking at it.

“No Timmy, we can’t get that one. That one is 22. It cost too many dollars. Mommy just spent a lot of money on trains…” She is up and looking at the prices of the trains.

Rounding up the boys and out of Timmy’s mom’s earshot I say for an employee’s benefit (who had been sitting near by) “Mom has to go, if we hear ‘Timmy’ one more time I might explode”

He begins to laugh, he tells me that he was about to start counting the number of times she said his name. We both agreed that Lassie was rolling in her little doggie grave.

Now, I am not saying all thirty-something moms are this way. There are some very cool thirty-something moms out there. I know many. But there’s a certain thirty-something only-child parent who can’t seem to leave their kid alone. Never seems to be us neglectful-twenty-something moms.

It just boggles my mind. Do the intend to continue doing this? When does it end? Does this happen at home? How does anything else get done when there is all this Timmy-managing to do? And when will poor little Timmy get to play (or stare blankly) in peace?
He wasn’t hurting anyone or acting out in any way. He was tired and all he wanted to do is stare. And what, could she possibly be thinking about me, who is paying more attention to the 4 year old reading than the silent disaster at the train table?

I’m not the best mom. I’m far from it. But I know one thing. The teenage years in the Timmy household are going to be rough.

Click here for more about Hudson and Hudson’s world.

The micro-manager makes me tense. What mom-habits or mom-types drive you nuts?

5 thoughts on “How to Teach Your Child to Ignore You.

  1. Micro-managing and needing to control everything is definitely tough and makes me tense too. I’ve run across a lot of that. I also can’t stand it when mom’s are “all for” _____ (insert something) and they are bound and determined that _____ is the only way and they tell you (not suggest) or try to guilt you into their “right” way. I mean, really? I’m all for new ways of trying things, but I don’t think there is only one way to raise a kid and I think every kids has different ways of having their needs met. It’s all in the journey 🙂


    • I totally agree Blair! And of course, it’s all with the best intentions but Woah! Slow down! And take a minute to find out whether its working or you’re driving your child (and the people near by) up the wall!


  2. They call moms like this “helicopter moms” because they hover. Feel bad for this kid… he’ll either be painfully shy and unable to make decisions on his own, or a murderer. 😛


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