Toddler Tales: Tantrums + Toothpaste

Toddler Tales: Tantrums + Toothpaste

It was a cold February morning. A Wednesday. The 24th to be exact. I had been averaging 60 hours of work per week for the previous 4 months and was finally coming to the beginning of the end of my busiest season. It was the day that everything I had been working on up to that point needed to be physically assembled and distributed to the company and it had to be done that day. I was running on 4 hours of sleep and was physically and emotionally exhausted. Naturally, I was already running late(r than usual).

I went into A’s bedroom just like every morning prior. Except this time, she was already awake and was playing with her toys. Sweet, I thought, I won’t have to battle to get her out of bed. Like the true 3.5 year old diva she is, she was wearing her pj’s with a cross-body gold purse that was gifted to her by Aunt Heather. She must have envisioned herself being able to keep it on while getting dressed and so, much to her displeasure, I made her take it off… because you can’t change your clothes while wearing a cross-body purse, obvi.

Commence Meltdown.

A decided she would not take her pajama top off and clung to the sleeves with a rigor-mortised death grip. I’m talking about having to physically pry her locked fingers open so I could pull her sleeves off of her arms. Through her crocodile tears and 3.5 year old wails, I managed to get the pajama shirt off of her determined, tantrum-ing body and she psuedo-calmed down… for about 0.2 seconds.

What happened next is kind of a blur. All I remember is she started crying again, I started yelling (I know, not cool… but I was on the brink, y’all) and I had to walk away… multiple times. After what felt like 8,192,748,347 hours of battle, we finished getting dressed and moved into the bathroom to brush her teeth and hair – both things are usually a challenge on a good day and this was not a good day.

So, she’s standing on her old wooden step-stool in front of the sink, mouth-open, crying like she’s being beaten. So I did what any reasonable mother would do; I took advantage of the situation by brushing her teeth since they were all exposed from the incessant wailing. Well, that’s when ish got really real, y’all. Homegirl refused to spit out her toothpaste.

Y’all. She wouldn’t spit out her toothpaste.

I mean, this doesn’t sound like a big deal, right? Wrong. It was bad. So, so bad.

So there she is, standing there with a mouth full of pink bubblegum Hello Kitty bubbles, crocodile crying for reasons she can’t even remember, drooling all over the shirt that I just fought to get on her. Y’all. I lost it. I had to walk away… again.


I came back and she was still at it. I banged on the wall, clapped my hands, yelled some more… I even tried to calmly bargain with her (because I’m not above bribing my children)… nothing could snap her out of it. This went on for hours (not really, but it felt that way). Then I had a thought… maybe, just maybe, her daddy can get her to come to her senses. She’s a daddy’s girl, I thought. She worships him, I thought. Surely he can help us. So, we called him. He answered but had no luck either. There was no reasoning with the evil demon that had possessed my otherwise sweet and loving child. I don’t even think a priest could have exorcised that beast.


So, we hung up the phone and A was sent to her room for timeout (for the third time that morning). After another 8,192,748,347 hours of teeth-gnashing and losing her mind face-down on her bedroom floor, she miraculously snapped out of it and came back to the bathroom so I could do her hair. Jekyll and Hyde, y’all. Jekyll and Hyde.

(Now, I know you’re thinking that I’m a bad, impatient mom… and, that might be true. I’m sure my sleep-hazed rage will probably be something she tells her therapist about later in life. But, we survived and no one got hurt. That’s a victory, right?!)

Our regular morning routine then continued and we headed on to school without incident. First, though, we rocked in her chair and I told her how much I loved her and that I was sorry we had a bad morning. When all was said and done, I was 45 minutes late to work, cancelled a call I was supposed to take during my commute, and didn’t feel my blood pressure stabilize until about noon. She, on the other hand, was as happy as a  little unphased clam and we never talked about that dreadful morning again.

Oh, and she never did spit out her toothpaste.

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  1. Lili
    October 26, 2016 / 7:08 am

    The more I read your posts, I’m glad to realize I’m not the only one, and gives me the chance to see situations from another perspective. What you described is my 24/7 struggling, frustrations, deal making life, filled up with hugs and kisses in between. What I do take out if this pair is your good practice of get out to take a break, will put it in more practice. Thanks like always for sharing.

    • October 26, 2016 / 7:10 am

      Thanks so much for reading!! Yeah if I don’t take a break from these scenarios I will easily lose my mind!! You’re not alone, girl! xo

  2. August 8, 2016 / 3:49 pm

    #jesustakethewheel might just be my new favorite hashtag, LOL. Toddlers really know how to throw us for a loop don’t they?

    • August 8, 2016 / 3:50 pm

      Oh my word… yes! They sure do!

  3. jodykatter
    August 8, 2016 / 7:18 am

    Oh girl! My kid just turned two and this happens at least once a day. I asked her dad what the hell he did when he was younger to cause this kind of payback. 😜 I feel ya mama!

    • August 8, 2016 / 7:56 am

      The struggle!! I hear it gets easier. 😉

  4. August 8, 2016 / 12:10 am

    Oh man Ainsley hated every kind! After a long pep talk on how big girls use real toothpaste/ not the baby kind she got the memo and does fine now!

    • August 8, 2016 / 12:15 am

      Oh good! A’s problem wasn’t that she didn’t like toothpaste… it was that she was a hot mess that day and wouldn’t spit it out, which made it even more frustrating! She usually brushes her teeth like a champ! Oh the drama!

  5. August 7, 2016 / 11:33 pm

    It does get better! We went through it with both boys!

    • August 8, 2016 / 12:04 am

      Thank you so much! I hope so!

  6. August 7, 2016 / 11:32 pm

    It does get better! We went through it all too!

  7. August 7, 2016 / 11:06 pm

    Oh girl…this is the truth with those toddlers. We get impatient and try to do our best….and it often gets to us. The kids, it never bothers them, I swear. LOL

    • August 7, 2016 / 11:26 pm

      It doesn’t bother them one bit! Agh!

  8. Keala
    August 7, 2016 / 10:16 pm

    Oh I’ve so been there. We had to switch his toothpaste actually a couple years ago because he liked the flavor so much he liked to swallow it. Haha the fight came when we got him new toothpaste! Love threenagers.

    • August 7, 2016 / 11:27 pm

      Hahaha yeah we switched her flavor once and it didn’t go well. Ah, threenager life.

  9. August 7, 2016 / 9:40 pm

    Oh, my goodness! I loved this post! It sounds like something my oldest would do and I would probably have the same reaction! One day at a time with toddlers!

    • August 7, 2016 / 11:27 pm

      One minute in some cases! Hashtag mom life!

  10. August 7, 2016 / 6:50 pm

    Oh wow, I think you handles this quite well like most any other mother would lol. I have a 6!year old and don’t remember these I also have an almost one year old and not looking forward to having one of those crying fits for no reason lol. Doing good momma

    • August 7, 2016 / 11:28 pm

      Ah! You’re lucky! I hope your little one goes easy on you!

  11. August 6, 2016 / 9:33 pm

    I could just imagine that conversation. “Sorry I was late to work, boss. My 3 year old wouldn’t spit out her toothpaste.” But I feel you. I was recently late to work because I couldn’t explain t my 3 year old why his toy truck was red and not purple. Doesn’t sound like a big deal, right? Well it was. His truck has never been purple. Never had a purple truck entered our home. Why it was a question or an argument, I will never know.

    It’s unfair that we have to worry about their future therapy when we’re on the brink of sanity ourselves. Good luck, momma!

    • August 6, 2016 / 9:58 pm

      Oh my word… that would be maddening and hilarious all at the same time! I love what you said about their therapy… I think about what they’re going to tell their future shrink all the time! LOL

  12. Laura
    July 12, 2016 / 9:34 pm

    Isn’t it funny that in retrospect these situations are what make us smile, but in the moment we want to tie our children to a chair in a field far far away where they can “work life out” on their own terms and get back to us when they are in a less maniacal state? I totally get these “battle of wills” moment. (“No you can’t wear your Paw Patrol pyjamas to day care.” “No. I’m not making you pasta for breakfast.” “Really?? This is the day you want to sit on the potty and try to pee for 15 minutes???!” “I think your stuffies and dolls will be ok if we don’t have to individual find beds and blankets for EACH them before we leave.”) By the way, she did wear pyjamas to daycare (under her sweater), ate pasta for breakfast (cold from the night before), sat on the toilet but never peed, but thankfully was convinced the dolls didn’t mind sleeping in the same bed in just one room. Keep strong and order the extra large coffee! Love this post!

    • July 13, 2016 / 2:22 pm

      You’re so right! It’s so hard to realize in the moment that the thing your struggling about doesn’t really matter and will be funny later on. We just have to learn to pick our battles, right?! Thanks for the love!

  13. Tabitha
    May 28, 2016 / 4:46 pm

    Being the strong-willed mother of a strong-willed child, I’ve experienced many moments similar to this. I also scream after continuous conscious effort to stay calm doesn’t work. I try to understand if my frustration with her is coming from the situation or if the situation is only magnifying my frustration caused from a multitude of reasons. She doesn’t understand that I have to be at work by 8:00, but was up until midnight doing homework, and was woken up by her three (or 47) times throughout the night, so that getting out of bed at 6:00am to be on time was just not happening. I try to be patient and understanding, but sometimes you’ve got to get out the door and drag a screaming kid with you; because as much as she is my world, I’m not able to solely focus on her. I work for her, I go to school for her, but that means that those things have to matter also, so that I can provide for her. It’s tough.

    • May 28, 2016 / 6:00 pm

      Yes girl!! It’s so hard but you’re doing a great job!

  14. Susie
    May 27, 2016 / 3:41 pm

    It gets better! Or I should say, you learn not to fight so much. So she goes to school in her pjs. She’ll figure it out. So she swallows toothpaste. She’ll figure it out! So things don’t get done and meetings get missed… Life goes on! The experiences of a mommy are one I would never give up for anything! Keep at Mommy! You rock!

    • May 27, 2016 / 4:00 pm

      Hahaha yes, you’re probably right. But Lady A is a particularly strong willed child so this one was a battle of wills and I was determined to win! ❤️

  15. May 27, 2016 / 8:34 am

    Lol I love this post. I can so relate! You’re not a bad mom at all! I naturally would react the same way but they always manage to do something cute that makes us move on and forget about the battle that just happened. Ugh, threenagers!

    • May 27, 2016 / 9:25 am

      Thank you! I’m so glad I’m not alone! And you’re so right! They know what they’re doing. 😉

  16. Kate
    May 27, 2016 / 7:46 am

    This is my favorite!

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