Cue Cards

Yesterday, as I guided Lainey back toward our car after her friend’s birthday party, I noticed she was suspiciously clutching a small bulge hidden between her dress and her denim vest. She obviously didn’t want me to see it and, at the onset of my curiosity, she worked harder to conceal it.

Go easy, I thought. Give her the benefit of the doubt. Be cool. She’ll come clean. “Lainey, Babe, Sweetie Pie–what’s that in your vest?” I cheerfully asked, setting the scene for a heartfelt confession.

“It’s nuffing,” she replied, pulling away and tucking it deeper in her grip.

“Does it belong to you? Because we’re getting in our car and going home, and if it’s Presley’s toy it needs to stay at Presley’s house. She’d be so sad if she went to play with one of her toys and it was gone.”

Lainey pulled a cheap happy meal toy from her vest–one I’d definitely never seen before, flashed me a testy look and dug herself a deeper hole. “It’s not Presley’s. It’s mine.”

Dammit. She lied. My kid just Winona Ryder’ed a happy meal toy, and now she’s lying about it. And I’m going to have to whip out one of those award-winning parenting speeches that’s going to seer a lesson deep into her conscience as if this single happy meal toy is the deciding factor on whether or not she has a lifetime of orange jumpsuits and prison Spam sandwiches in her future.

“Lainey, I’m pretty sure you didn’t come to the party with that toy. I’d be so sad if you’re telling me it’s your toy when it’s really Presley’s. And I know how sad you’d be if someone took a toy of yours without asking. Like what if someone took your bike and you didn’t have anything to ride on in the driveway anymore? Do you think we could take that toy back to Presley’s house?”

My girl looked down shamefully, so all I could see was her sweet blond hair pulled back into a thin ponytail. Without offering words or looking up, she held the toy out and waited for me to take it, and we walked hand-in-hand back toward the house while I frantically contemplated on what a good mom would say next.

“How ’bout we just leave the toy on the table here?” I asked her, setting the plastic happy meal toy next to a pile of lemonade cups on the table in the middle of the driveway. No one saw her take it, no one saw her return it, but it was done.

On the way home, she talked about how much Presley was going to love the salon kit we got her and how maybe Presley would clip the pink hair extension clips in her little sister’s hair. I smiled and nodded but inwardly analyzed how I’d just handled the stealing situation. Should I have done more? Should I have made her confess to Presley or created a bigger scene so she’d never forget? It was a big deal to me–I never expected my kid would purposefully steal something and think to hide it from me–at least not when she’s only four, and I thought of all the things I could have said–the perfect scripts the parenting books suggest you robotically rattle off in situations like this. Where were cue cards when I needed them, and if my response to big lesson opportunities like this were off, is my kid going to be the naugty one? The hitter, the thief, the target for parents’ pointing fingers with a “Watch out for that one”?

Obviously, I have a tendency to over analyze, especially when it comes to sculpting my girls’ character. It’s so important to me to raise kind and conscientious children, ones who think about others and make efforts to improve the world around them, and so much of their ability to do this comes from skills and lessons we will teach them. Pressure, to say the least.


Sometimes, we will mess up. We’ll flub up responses, reacting too harshly or not harsh enough. We’ll yell when we should have hugged, lose our cool when we should have sighed and smiled, or retreat behind a shower curtain with a glass of wine praying the kids won’t find us when we should have faced our problems.

I don’t always know the perfect thing to say to my kids when they ask me questions or need a good lesson. Sometimes, off the cuff responses for me sound more like off kilter. Like I once told Lainey she had to sit in a carseat because, otherwise her body would “fling in the air and hit a window” if we got in an accident. Great mom, I know. I regret that one. But I believe our kids will know what’s good and will find their own way to adopting good and kind and conscientious as inherent attributes even if we don’t have the perfect lectures to back it. They will know far more by how we model behaviors than by how we verbally advise them. Besides, I’m not really a scripted kind of girl. If the books said say it this way, I’d revel in the challenge of finding a that way that was different but good. As Jill Churchill said, “there’s no way to be a perfect mother, and a million ways to be a good one.”

We talked last night again about what happened–why it was important that we didn’t take something that didn’t belong to us and how it makes people feel when we do things that are unkind. I asked Lainey to look at me when I spoke, because “I need to see your Oreo eyes so I know you understand Mama.” She looked at me and smiled, opening her eyes so big, her face turned into a silly expression. We both laughed and I watched as she fell back into her pillow and wrapped her arm around Nella, squeezing her tightly and nuzzling her blond head gently into her sister’s.

There will be more lessons, more conversations about making good decisions. Today it’s happy meal toys; tomorrow it’s studying for tests, dealing with mean girls, respecting curfews. While I may never instruct my child in a way that merits applause or goes down in history as the perfect cue card way, I do it as thoughtfully as possible, cutting myself some slack that I’m doing the best job I can.

And every day, there are constant reminders that we’re doing just fine.





Congratulations to the Mamalode subscription winner, Comment #472, Sandra: I love your take on balance. I’ve been one of those “waiting for the other shoe to drop” people, living with too much fear of the unknown impending doom. Thinking of it from a different perspective will help me enjoy the good and balance the…less-good.

Sandra, please send your contact info to, and you’ll soon be running to your mailbox for a nice treat.

You can still get your subscription HERE. Nella’s cover and “The Secret Reserves” article is in the ENOUGH issue (you can choose your first issue).

We are enjoying the rest of our holiday weekend and looking forward to cheering our girl on at her ballet recital this afternoon. I can’t decide between bestowing her with a bouquet of flowers at her performance or perhaps something she’d like a little better…a new happy meal toy.

The cutest, most versatile kid duds: Tea Collection Painters Overalls



Have a great holiday!




Leave a Comment
  1. I love her outfit. Oh my goodness. LOVE those overalls. I want a little girl so badly. I am glad you have 2. I think you did good enough with the toy lesson. I don’t think SPAM sandwiches are in her future.

  2. It is so hard as parents to know exactly how to react to things, bad and good. But I think you are right…we just figure it out and as my mom always said, “Actions speak louder than words.”

    Happy long weekend!

  3. I love this story Kelle – Its so real.

  4. XOXO!
    The hard part of parenting….I guess it comes with instincts as well.

    Congratulations to Lainey on her recital…..
    Why don’t you get her both? flowers and a happy meal :)

    Enjoy your day!

  5. Oh my gosh! That last shot of little Miss Nella, having so obviously just enjoyed a great meal! :) Too funny and sweet – every girl’s baby book has to have at least one picture like that one!

    Now – about the toy – I think you did ‘perfect’! In fact I think, that by NOT making a big production of it – and allowing Lainey to do the right thing, but still not cause her embarrassment, you probably taught her an even more profound lesson……..a lesson that says, “you can do the right thing, but you don’t always have to make alot of hoopla about it!” Causing embarrassment also causes resentment – and resentful kids will just find more inventive ways to do the things they’re really not supposed to be doing. Heck – that’s true of resentful, embarrassed adults, too! :)

    Follow your Mommy-heart like you always do – and your girls are going to be raised to perfection – you’ll see!……….Rosemary

  6. Love this

  7. Great post as always! I love her overalls, too cute! I have done things before that after I did them I wondered if it was too much or not enough. And then my Nana who is one of the best people in this world, and an awesome mother, grandmother, and great grandmother, told my son yesterday that if he leaned too far over the fountain he would drown and die. I felt a little better that even seasoned mothers say things like that! Goodness knows I have! Have a great weekend!

  8. Mommy instincts are usually right. Saying the wrong thing (is the carseat flinging story the best you can come up with? :)) makes life real. Life is real and we all do the best with what we have and move on. I am always moving on….

  9. You did a good job! I remember when I was 4 or 5 I took a gummy bear from the grocery store. My grandmother told me not to but I did it anyways! She waited until we got to the checkout area and told the lady that I stole a gummy bear. I was so upset that I never wanted to go back in that store. I think scaring or intimidating a child is unfair. They need to understand that they can’t take things. We all make mistakes and we all learn from them. What she did was totally normal and a learning experience. Good job down playing it and making sure she knew it was wrong and that her momma knows everything :)

  10. Hugs friend. I over analyze and over struggle all the time. You are doing marvelously. And she isn’t the first child that has done this! You handled it perfectly for you … That’s the best thigh about not parenting from a book. xoxo

  11. I completely agree that what we model speaks more clearly than any speach we could ever give. I love the words of the Bible that say, “love covers a multitude of sins.” The best we can give our children is our love. You model that for me in this blog. Thank you.

  12. Nobody said parenting would be easy, and kids don’t just pop out with an owner’s manual (not that we own them, but you know what I mean). I’d say you rocked the explanation. :o)

    It’s a stage that most kids go through and most come out the other end unscathed. A very few turn into WyRis or LiLos.

    Your post struck a chord with me… my almost-8-year-old is a kleptomaniac. I mean, she’s a diagnosed kleptomaniac. She’s in the autism spectrum and it’s a co-morbidity issue. It’s hard… It’s very hard because instantly other parents and other people assume I’m a bad mom, and there’s no avoiding it. They have no idea how many doctors we see on a regular bases, how many therapies we’ve done, how many medications we’ve tried… All they see is a normal looking kid and a normal looking mom. She constantly steals things from kids at school. Not valuable things, but little things that peak her interest like sparkly pencils or lip gloss. We have to pat her down if we dare to take her to the store.

    Sorry for the novel. You handled the situation perfectly, and there is very little chance beautiful Lainey will make this a habit.


  13. our children learn all the great qualitites that we want them to have by watching us. not by some “script” of the “right” thing to say to them in certain situations. they see us make mistakes and how we handle them and they learn from that just as much as they learn from our triumpts.

  14. Bulldogma, thank you for sharing. I can imagine the emotions you go through with this and understand it must be difficult. I am continually inspired and challenged by the stories of other parents and their challenges and realize how similar we all are in our efforts and dreams for our kids.

  15. As usual, instinct wins out. You did great! First, you didn’t overreact when you noticed it — and you made it possible for her to confess. That sounds simple, but feeling a tiny bit of shame is important, it’s a character-builder, and what you did was not to shame her, but to gently allow her to decide if she was going to do right or do wrong. Huge difference! You cued her is all.

    One thing I learned with one of my kids who shall remain nameless, is to catch them before they actually say the lie. It took me awhile to figure out how to do this.:-) So right before the words come out of his mouth (I can just tell it’s not going to be truth), I will gently look in his eyes and say, “hey, before you say anything, remember that no matter what it is, I won’t feel sad at all, as long as you tell me the truth.” It always works! To me, learning to tell the truth is the biggest thing. Who cares about the action – the followup was perfect :-)

    I also like how you let some time pass before talking with her about it – it lets the emotion of the moment subside.

    Yeah Mamalode! That is so cool! And she’s getting long curlies on the back of her head!

  16. OH my. My son, Hunter, mysteriously produced a Batman happy meal toy at bath time (that I knew wasn’t his). I felt the same way you did! It’s a crazy feeling when you KIND OF know what to do, but would REALLY appreciate cue cards! :)LOL We took the batman back to it’s rightful owner the next day and left it on the porch with a “sorry note”. I also drove past the police station purposefully to casually let him know that’s where “grown up stealers” go. Harsh? Maybe, but I wanted him to be scared into NEVER doing this again. Hard stuff. Then we got my Lainy Sue’s princess toy cell phone sent back to us in the mail by a clepto-cousin with a sorry note! LOL Thanks for blogging about stuff we can ALL relate to :)

  17. As a mother of two grown up kids I can only tell you what my mother of 9 told me. When you want to scream at your kids thats when they need to be hugged the most! Nellas pics cracked me up!

  18. Kelle, when my son Greg (now all grown up) was in his early elementary years he needed to do a project that included making figures of people and animals and creating some kind of scene with them. He wanted to just go and buy some but that was not what the assignment called for.

    A couple weeks later I stumbled upon an open bag of small army men that he apparently swiped in the grocery store when I wasn’t watching. I did just what you did, explained how wrong it was, and then we stapled the bag back together ( all the pieces were there) and went back and placed it on the rack. No one knew, and as far as I know he never stole another item.

    It’s so important that they know we still love them while we are disciplining our babies; they are just figuring life out, just as we still are some days.

    You sound like an awesome mom….keep lovin’ those sweeties, it’s the most important thing they need!!

    Barb =)

  19. I’ve been down that one. My boy stole a toy from a doctor’s office. I didn’t realize until we were home. he was a little older, maybe 5 or 6. I think I overcompensated. I made him return it, and add one of his own to the small pile of toys in the office for children to play with, and apologize to the receptionist for having taken it home. Like I said, he was older, so I felt like I had to drive the point home. One of my least favorite parenting moments ever. But, he’s almost 13, and to my knowledge, he’s never done it again, so hopefully it made the intended impression on him.
    Good for you, I’m sure she understands, esp. with your gentle reinforcement later. Good job, mama!

  20. Oh, mommy (hug here)..I think you handled it GREAT. Yah, you may over-analyze just a bit, like myself and so many mothers. We SO want to do the right thing. NOw, I am that way with my GRANDKIDS! It never ends..I think,too, that often “Less is better”. I think you said and did enough. No spam sandwiches in Lainey’s future (love what you wrote). It’s hard-sometimes I try to tell my 3 yr-old grandson the same things about “how would YOU feel if someonee did this to you”. But, not being an expert on child development, i am unclear as to WHEN children develop empathy or understand that (??). THis is off-subject, but I was so touched and inspired by the Oprah finale show on Wed- maybe others saw? So many great life lessons to keep. I love how she said we are each responsible for the energy we bring to each other, into a room, into the world. And also how we each have a purpose, a calling. It may not be a paid job. It could be that we are nurturing, we try to be the best mommies, etc. Anyways, our oldest dtr and her little family are in for a visit and that makes me happy. Hope you have a great Holiday wknd! Love from the Blog Mama~

  21. oh goodness gracious it’s so hard to do the exact right thing in any situation. i think you handled the swiping of the McD toy just right. But it’s easy to be “monday morning quarterback” on the ride home and think of other ways to handle it. Nella’s messy face at the end is hilarious! Wowza!

  22. I’m trying to tell my 8 month old to not scream… doesn’t work so well! & I think you did great handling the happy meal toy situation. I wonder what I’ll do once my kid fibs about a toy… I know one thing, I won’t yell :) Good luck to Lainey at her recital today! xx

  23. “Do unto others”, you taught Lainie Bug that important lesson by asking her about how she’d feel if her bike was gone. She listened, she heard. BRAVO, for not shaming your girl!
    You are a wonderful Mama! And, can I just say that the photo of Nella sitting on the day bed is my favorite…yet! I still say that if I could choose a vacation to anywhere in the world, it would be to come to visit you and your Littles! I know they’d love this Lady with one leg! I can just hear/see the questions and wonder in L’s eyes!
    Have a great Holiday weekend! Oh, and kiss the girls for me! Hugs ~ Jo

  24. I think you did a wonderful job with the lesson! Lainey will turn out beautifully, and so will Nella! And I literally LOL at that spaghetti?carrot? face of Nella’s! My middle child, Caitlin looked like that on a regular basis when she was about 18 months. We would just dip her in the pool and wash her off if we were outside! :)

  25. Great post! I hope that when a situation like this happens to me, I would know what to say.. and I hope I would say it sweetly too.

  26. the up-side is she clearly has entered the developmental age of reason! She knew it was wrong, or she wouldn’t have hidden it. I was so upset the first time my son with Ds lied to me, until I told his therapist. She celebrated that he had entered the age where he had reasoned out that the truth would have gotten him in trouble, and by lying showed that he understood self-preservation. It was one of those silver-lining moments. always look on the bright side! :)

  27. This is why I love the blogging community–because every time I’m feeling challenged by parenthood I come across a wonderful reminder from a real mama that we’re all doing just fine.

  28. b, smiling. Excellent point. I can’t wait until Nella steals and hides it too. Ha. I love that.

    I am also loving the thoughtful discussion and viewpoints on this subject.

  29. Love this post. It is a topic that weighs on me as a mama of a 5 and 13 year old – new phases and challenges emerge daily. Jill Churchill’s quote is one of my favorites. Thanks for sharing and being such an inspiration to me.

  30. You did good Mama! You inspire me with every post.

    Nella reading to her stuffed friends is adorable. Just one question, is bear in time out? LoL! 😉

  31. I think you handled it wisely. Dealing with you and dealing with the emotions behind it was enough to make an impression. Seriously. You kept the dialogue open between the two of you — there was no shaming — just teaching.

    One of my favorite posts.

  32. I think you handled it beautifully. Seriously. Why would she need to go back and make a huge scene over the fact that she, at the age of 4, STOLE a toy from her friend? I mean, think of how silly it sounds. I’m not even sure kids her age fully understand stealing. They know its wrong, they know it doesn’t belong to them, but they need us to teach them… to give back, to not covet, to enjoy things without having to have all of them.
    I think your calm and quiet way of talking it out and having her bring it back {would’ve been bad if you had said “its a small toy, this time you can keep it”}
    Lainey will remember your talk with much more joy and happiness than remembering “the day mom brought me out and shamed me in front of a bunch of people.” Seriously, kudos to you. I’m actually quiet impressed. I’m worried I would’ve flipped out so much worse :)

  33. Loved it. Love that sweet girl of yours and the opportunity to learn such a valuable lesson. She’s going to be just fine…the only jump suit she’ll be rockin’ is the adorable green one in the pic :)

  34. I have 6 children and all have taken something that doesn’t belong to them. I still remember taking my oldest back to the shoe store to return something she took(not shoes). She was mortified and scared. Others have had to return packs of gum and small toys. None have become criminals:) Forget the cue cards just take the cue from each child. They all respond to different types of instruction. A word and ‘that look’ works for one and yet the other one might need something more concrete such as marching back into the mall. You handles it just fine! Susan

  35. My brother stole POGS once, and my mom canceled his birthday party. None of us ever forgot it, or as far as I know, stole anything ever again :) Raising humans is the hardest job, ever.

    Hope the recital is fab!

  36. Not looking forward to this talk with my little girl. I guess we always look back and wonder if we should have/could have done it better. So I guess that’s parenting. Always stuck in a conundrum… 😉
    Great pics!

  37. I love the photo with the umbrella, she’s wonderfully cute there! And Nella with all that food in her face: adorable :-)

    On the more serious stuff: my gosh, it’s what we do and say each day during a whole lot of years that help sculpture who they’ll be.
    I can’t resist thinking of the hardships surrounding my firstborn and the unthinkable pressure we had around us and then thinking how wonderfully he turned out.
    He’s warm, caring, loving, happy, outgoing, smart and handsome (!). Who’d have thought? Really?
    So, I cut myself some slack seeing him now, knowing I did a whole lot of “rights” even though there was so many “wrongs” during his childhood years.

    Somehow it’s reassuring.
    You do the best you can and it goes a very long way.

    I know you are a wonderful caring mother and I know I am and that is so important. Reflecting over it, in itself, is important. It makes for some good, kind, cute and sweet little people we’re raising.

    On a more superficial note: seeing the photo of the puddle and that palm tree proud in the background makes me long to go to Miami so much my chest aches!!!!!
    Thanks for the reminder – I gotta save up for a Miami trip, for sure…!

  38. This is such a lovely post! I absolutely love your photography — you capture your girls brilliantly! :)

    –acacia (ahh cass ee ahh).

  39. i can still remember like it was yesterday when my older monkey stole a pair of scissors from preschool- they cut easier than the ‘safe’ ones I kept at home for him to use- It was so hard to explain when faced with that kind of reason- It was close to the holidays so I bought him a pair for Hanukkah- we still have them- these sharpe scissors- that he or his younger brother never hurt themselves on.

  40. Isn’t that interesting? Not just that she took the toy, but that she concealed it from you? Watching my grandchildren now (ages 5, 3, and 2)I see them developing complex thoughts and marvel at each child’s uniqueness AND their common humanity. I’m loving having the proper distance to see the details I think I missed with their parents. I think you did great with Lainey.
    And I can’t let this blog go without telling you how much I ADORE the picture of little Nella with her book, sitting on the daybed with sunlight streaming over her shoulder. Precious!

  41. I thought if this post today when my 3 year old boy asked me what a box of tampons was and why only girls use them. Could have used a cue card then…anyway, lovely post :)

  42. Parenting is SO hard sometimes. I think you handled the situation very well. I had something similar happen with my now 17 year old when he was about Lainey’s age. Except he stole a small kids magazine from Albertson’s. I noticed it hidden in his jacket as we were walking out of the store. The manager noticed too. I handled it very much like you did. I was SOOO embarrassed though lol I think children do listen to the things we say, but they really watch what we do. If they see us as kind and good people, they will pick up on it. Anyway, all that to say that I have been there too and at 17, he is a great kid and I know Lainey will be too : ) You’re a great Mom!

  43. Oh my gosh, I’m still laughing about the “Winona Ryder’ed it” part! Love it =)

  44. teaching kids is the hardest thing i’ve ever done….mine are now 19 and 23, but there’s hardly a week that goes by that i’m not still teaching them something.

    it’s a gift to be able to teach our children and a honor when they actually learn.

    what you did and how you handled it, was perfect.

    those little things, when they are little kids, seem rather large at the moment, don’t they.

    big kids, big issues. DON’T SMOKE POT. little kids…well just keep loving them to pieces. it’s easier that way so you don’t want to kill them when you find a empty beer can in the backseat of their car when they’re only 16.


  45. Kelle, I would not worry about your girls growing up to be good, kind people; I’m positive that they will. You love them, talk to them, teach them, hang out with them, play with them, and are there for them. I see families who’s parents are almost completely absent, and all the bad things those kids do are cries for attention from their parents. Your girls are so loved and they know it, I think they’ll grow up to be mature and responsible people. :)

  46. These are hard parenting moments for sure. In the end, Lainey did do the right thing because you guided her. You’re doing your job! Yeah. xo

  47. Oh man! THANK YOU for this! It has been reaffirmed more and more in my mind lately that I’m not alone with this thing called “fear” as a Mom! I fear all of the time… What if I should have done that differently? Should I have been more firm? Is he going to be messed up because of something I should have done another way? Ahh! Thanks for the reassurance that if we are doing our best and making choices for our children out of love… they are going to do just fine. LOVED the analogy of orange jumpsuits and a lifetime of spam sandwiches! So true that we moms think that way! :) LOVE those smiley Nella pictures… she just melts my heart every time I see her picture! Ps. I think your response and little life lesson to Lainey was just perfect! Book worthy. Good job!

  48. Kelle, you did great. :) All kids have their moments. Mine “borrowed” a chapstick from a friend when she was about 4. We handled it the same way, and that was the last time it happened. We do the best we can, with our words & guidance. There are all kinds of “right” ways to handle things. Have fun at the recital, I was a dancer and loved getting flowers from my Mama!! ~XOXO Shannon

  49. I’m so glad you wrote this. I’m one of those that over analyzes and wonders if I handled things the “right way”. And mine’s not even 2 yet! :) I think you handled it well. Your girls are going to be just fine. No Spam in their future. At least not involuntarily. :) Good luck to Lainey on her recital!! I think a Happy Meal is a great idea.

    ps. that picture of Nella reading on the bed has to be one of my all time favorites. Absolutely beautiful.

  50. when i was about lainey’s age, my dad caught me in a lie. he brought me into my room, looked me square in the eyes and said, “i’m so disappointed in you that i can’t be in the same room as you right now.” and turned and shut my door. i’m pretty sure it was for me, but i also think it was for him to try and have time to figure out what brilliant thing he needed to say next. it sure felt like 2 hours before he finally came back in, but it may have only been 10 minutes!

  51. We have yet to cross this bridge with Ada, which translates into lots of time for me to think (read: perseverate) about it. I know it will come – it’s a right of passage for all kids, isn’t it?

    You did well. She knew it wasn’t right (score 1), her body language would suggest she was remorseful (score 2), and you discussed it in a calm manner later when you had considered it and she could really hear you (score 3).

  52. You are SO not alone. I (and my husband) constantly wonder if we are doing the right thing when it comes to disciplining our boys. Are we being too hard, too soft? We are consistent, and hopefully through our consistency and our examples, they will learn what is right and what is wrong. I have to have faith in that. My parents (and his) did the same when we were little and we both turned out okay….

    I think you did a great job, Momma! :)

  53. I your post and it reminded me of a parenting workshop I went to last week. It was called conscious disciplining. They are doing more seminars this summer in Florida.
    It talks about how we as parents can act consciously. How we can acknowledge our child’s feelings and then give a conscious respond, even when we don’t really know, but don’t just react.

    Anyway, just wanted to mention it here, because I had found it extremely helpful and I am already a teacher, have studied child development….

    Thank you for sharing your life journey.

  54. Omgggg! You have the sweetest looking girl ever! She is just so precious!

    My little man is only 11 month old…not yet talking. So I have no idea at all what I would have done in that situation. I probably would have said the same things, as you…I’d be so sad if he felt the need to lie to me!

  55. We jsut had a stealing incident with our 8 year old. We were at Children’s Place; I was focused on finding bargins, she was focused on the cutesy stuffed bear key-chains. I sent her into the curtained dressing room to try something on while I went for another size. (Daddy was nearby watching our 6 year old son) I purchased a few things and off we went. Two days later I was emptying a very loaded backpack and came across a toy I’d never seen before. I asked her where it came from (kids on the bus are constantly “trading toys” with each other, and then trade back days later) Without missing a beat she said “I got it from the lost and found at school.” the thing was brand spanking new, if it was “lost” it would have at least been dirty…I told her she needed to go in her room until she was ready to answer the question again. I always give then time to think about telling the lie. The tag was still on the bear, the website still had them for sale. I called her, I looked her straight in the face and said “There is no room for lying here…Did you take that from the store without paying for it?” She lied. Right there in front of her Dad and I. After I explained how it was a lie, I called the store and we drove back to it, I made her tell the women what she did. (here’s where I got ticked off: the women thought it was funny, like a joke, she was smiling the whole time as if my child did something “cute”.) I reminded this women that had my daughter been just a few years older she would have called security, I asked her to please explain what happens to people that steal things from stores. Nina had to pay for the bear with her own money and now the bear sits in the hutch. We made her miss a birthday party that was the following weekend, she had to call her friend and tell her she had gotten grounded and couldn’t come. Now she is our patrol officer if our son picks something up after we say no she’ll tell him if he steals that he’ll get in big trouble! We’re the ony ones who can teach our kids, sometimes we make mistakes and sometimes we get it right.

  56. have to love those teachable parenting moments…the one’s that hit you upside the head out of the middle of nowhere and you’re left wondering “why” and “is that MY kid” daughter is almost 13 and thus far has been the easier of the two, which made my 7 year old son the “teachable parenting moment” child. It’s hard. I’ve learned to be consistent and just hope with all my might that I am doing the right thing.

  57. Oh Kelle, how the timing of your post seemed so impeccable today! I SO needed the “we don’t have cue cards, but we’re doing the best we can” kinda talk…in a big, big way! THANK YOU. :)

    While you trying to conquer your first talk over stolen happy meal toys, I was trying to figure out what you say to your 6 year old special needs kiddo with DS, when she throws her toy at your face because she doesn’t have the words yet to say, “Please leave me alone”.

    Cue cards certainly would have come in handy, but since none were available, I settled on a plan to show my stern mama face, shake my pointer finger in a “oh no you didn’t” fashion, and use the words, “No, not nice”.

    I’ve since spent the rest of the day wondering if she understood and if I did a good job. Wondering if the aggressive behaviors she’s brought home from school are a permanent part of her identity, or if the loving and affectionate girl I’ve always known secretly knows deep down inside that what she did was wrong, and will outgrown all the this nonsense. I’m banking on the latter of the two!

    I think you’re doing a fabulous job raising your little girls Kelle, and I think they are so incredibly lucky to have you! Thank you for sharing your story with all of us. :)

    P.S. I love the picture of Nella with the food all over her face! So adorable!

  58. I love Tea Collection!!!
    Can’t wait for ballet recitals with my (3 year old brown eyed girl and my 1 year old blue eyed girl) you have twins here in Massachusetts

  59. Do both, Mama! Happy day…

  60. Oh, Kelle, this is just the beginning! Sadly there are no cue cards…but you did great! Minor kleptomania is normal and age appropriate, and you let her know that it’s not okay but it’s not the end of the world either. You don’t stop loving her, the sky doesn’t fall, and she can tell Mama the truth without it being a huge drama.

    Empathy is a great way to help our kids learn right from wrong.

    I think you’re doing just fine. And those bigger things that come later? Well this is the dress rehearsal. You go through these little things to get you ready for the ones that are more serious. No mother is perfect; no child is perfect. So you’re going to have to deal with stuff like this from time to time. The measure of a person (and of a mom) isn’t that the kid never does anything wrong, but in how you cope with mistakes.

    Just keep being a role model for loving one another, and your girls will continue to follow in your footsteps.

  61. I loved your post.

    Even though you didn’t ask me I don’t think I would get her the Happy Meal toy. I don’t know why but it almost seems like ti would be rewarding her choice of trying to take it. She tried to take it and failed but no matter because mom bought her one anyway.

    Sometimes I think it’s better if one can’t have everything one desires.

    Like I said just my two cents worth.

    Raising children is difficult but you seem to be doing a pretty nice job of it. Thanks for the thought provoking post.

  62. I love that quote about mothering… what a great reminder. There’s so much pressure to be ‘perfect.’ Something I struggle with… It’s a good reminder just to do the very best that we can! Thanks for sharing this story!!

  63. I love that quote from Jill Churchill.

    Sometimes as moms we take things too lightly (“you’re not really sick, you’ll be fine in school…” to then get a phone call from the school nurse. Oops.)

    Other times we spiral to the point of crazy (“because there are people in this world who do bad things and those people could take you away from me and hurt you…” -not that they won’t spending years in therapy for that little morsel…)

    I am so far from perfection, but smile because I know there is this fierce lioness kind of love, that is just right. :)

  64. I wish parenting came with a Manuel.. It’s so hard to know what to say and do in certain situations..

    I love the 2nd to last photo of Nella! x

  65. My favorite pictures of Nella are the ones of her mingling with all the teddy bears on that beautiful bed!

  66. I once stole the little nylon socks from a shoe store (the free ones you try on when you are trying out shoes), I think I was about Lainey’s age. My mom made me go back into the store and give them to the clerk. I was mortified and still remember it to this day. The door going back into the store weighed a ton as I opened it to give back the stupid nylon sock things.

    I think we know what to do with our children and we just need to not second guess ourselves. When you figure out that one, help me out! :) You are a wonderful mommy.

  67. I agree with everyone else that has backed you up thus far. Based on Lainey’s reaction, oh yeah, she got the message. And even if she really doesn’t care about whether or not the other kid gets their toy back, she cares utmost about how YOU feel. Eventually that empathy will translate to larger groups of people. That is how I learned it, at least. You parent with love and intentionality. I’m pretty sure with that combo you can’t go wrong. You taught Lainey some good lessons- when we know we’ve screwed up, you just have to suck it up and make it right, then you can move on with your life. Also, that you were disappointed, but forgiving. You got an A+ even without the cue cards.

    Along the lines of just blurting out anything as explanation, my mom once didn’t allow me to get some chocolate at the grocery store because i “could get diabetes and NEVER be able to eat sugar again” and she then proceeded to remind me about everything that has sugar in it. I was horrified. hahahaha I still laugh thinking about it, considering I was probably 4, had no clue what diabetes was, certainly it didn’t override my longing for chocolate, and was very small and there was no reason to think I’d even be at risk for Type 2 diabetes in the future. But hey, now I am a nurse and use similar logic to keep my eating in check nowadays, so maybe it worked better than my mom intended! :)

  68. I wouldn’t worry about orange jumpsuits just yet. Kids this age like to test limits and see what they can get away with. I think you did just fine, by not making a HUGE production out of it. You’re doing a great job and there’s no need to second guess yourself. First instincts are the best.

    Have a fabulous holiday weekend, and tell Lainey to break a leg at her recital.

  69. Oh Kelle, you were born to be a MUMMA!! I swear!
    And guess what? About 2 months ago, I saw a documentary study on small kids, and apparently it’s very normal & healthy & expectant of young children around the age of 4 to lie. It is a healthy milestone of reaching limits & understanding & knowing boundaries.
    I had to try to pull a ‘good parenting moment’ speech yesterday as we awaited in the Doctor’s surgery for our appointment & my 3yr old Ella says in a very loud voice {whilst pointing at an extremely obese man in a wheelchair} “Wow Mum, that man is sooo big! Does he eat lots of food or does he have babies in his tummy?” {eeeks, and he heard!} My heart broke that my girl had probably hurt someone’s feelings! But she’s 3, she’s learning, she’s gaining understanding. So out came my ‘look at me Ella, we need to have a serious chat’ cue card :)
    We’re all doing our best in shaping amazing little people!
    And you inspire others to do so Kelle!

  70. I agree with what most people have been saying. Trying to test the limits is normal. I think we’d be hard pressed to find a kid that never has tried to take something that didn’t belong to them. It’s part of growing and learning.

    And with that…learning what to say and how to react is our constant exercise. We’ll probably have it mostly figured out once they are grown and off on lives of their own. You are right though, cutting yourself some slack and believing we’re probably getting more right than wrong is a better thing to focus on than worrying about not punishing enough. :)

  71. Last night I was just telling my husband how I stole a York Peppermint Patty from a gas station when I was 3 or 4 years old. My mom found me with it as we were walking back to the car. She made me turn around and tell the clerk what I had done. Was it the 100% right thing to do? I don’t know, but to this day if I make it out of the store and notice I wasn’t charged for something, I go back in a pay for it.

  72. I think you did exactly the right thing – my instinct often turns to making “more” of the situation which leads to shaming the child which i want to avoid – have to learn to stop talking and let the lesson just sink in. Taking her back inside woudl have elevated the moment a bit more than i think necessary so your instincts are awesome!

    and LOVING that food face photo of Nella – those messy times are much cuter on other people’s children!

  73. A lesson for every parent and child. The picture of Lainey with the umbrella and Nella on the daybed – unbelievably beautiful.

  74. I stole a sheet of puffy stickers from a grocery store when I was 4. Stuffed them up under my coat–they were all sorts of puffy hearts and arrows for Valentine’s Day–after my Dad said no. I got home, faked a very short trip to our next door neighbor’s house and came home telling my tale about how the neighbor had given me a sheet of the very same puffy stickers I’d been coveting at the store.

    Needless to say, they saw right through my thin lie, drove back to the store where I lay on the floorboard of the car mortified waiting for the supermarket security to come arrest me while my father returned the stickers and told them about his horrible thief of a daughter.

    For the record, I have never since committed a felony and I am by and large, a model citizen…

    Hope for Lainey!!

  75. oh girl i was a thief when i was little. hate to admit it but i got a spankin’ at school for stealing a lipgloss. then my mom used to do cosmetic demonstrations in people’s homes. i stole all the little girls puffy stickers from her walls at one of the houses. my mom made me go back and apologize. i don’t know why in the world i did that.

    it’s hard being a parent. i’ve had to do the same with my girls. ick! you’re going a great job.

    secret for you…you mentioned to me your love of barns the other day. i’m moving to VA this summer with the fam..haven’t mentioned it on my blog yet. it’s in an area with nothing but thick trees and i’m slightly hyperventilating over it. i love wide open spaces. farms for as far as the eye can see. i pray i’ll survive;)

  76. Do not worry too much, as I learned, not lying would be abnormal in cases like that.

  77. I think you reacted perfectly for her age. When she’s 7 or 8 and takes something, that’s about the time to make a larger deal and have confession and apology times.

    Hang in there!

  78. kind of obsessed with nella’s messy face…

  79. LOL at Nella’s messy face! Too cute!

  80. Beautifully handled!

  81. With you as their role model, I have no doubt they’re both going to turn out great. Look how much you’ve inspired all of us!

  82. Your amazing, as I was reading this I had a cue card moment(kids come in one bite the other, I sent the biter to her room, seconds later she comes to me crying…..she had wet her pants. I could have screamed and punished her but your words hit home. “hugged instead of yelled.” I wrapped my arms around her. Asked why?, Postponed my blog reading, bathed my babe and made a cup of Joe. Life is good and so is motherhood, cue cards or not. Thanks-:)

  83. sounds like you did perfect…you explained she came clean and you revisited it when all emotion was gone from the situation. She learned and even though she might do it again while she’s learning…she’ll get there! I had a little thief when he was a three! It is so fun to tell him stories about it now he can’t believe it! Glad you are documenting it so she’ll believe you one day!

  84. Oh, Kelle, that’s too funny!.You handled it great. My 2 didn’t do that, but I wish they had. I found out after 2 yrs they were running a “business” in college writing papers for other kids! $20 a page for an A, etc. They had made alot of money in 2 years! I made them give what was left to charity and stop the business. But, you know what? They are out of college now with good jobs, no orange jumpsuits or spam sandwich! Kids do funny things. No harm, no foul! I remember when I explained why it was wrong to my kids, I was more
    angry that they made it possible for rich kids to purchase A’s than anything- we were poor, and they understood that logic very well. They have always been poor and had to work for anything. (Ok-poor but very gifted- they actually wrote guarenteed A papers- I had a private giggle-couldn’t help myself). But they are 30 and 28 and very kind, thoughtful adults with many friends who both do alot of charity work. Hang in there!

  85. Ditto to what the other moms are saying about this post – there is great comfort in the recognition of humanity in each one of us. On another note – Nella is losing her baby face. She looks so grown up in these pics!

  86. Your story made me laugh- my 4 year old neice went to the grocery store with her daddy and uncle (my husband) to pick up some dinner. When they returned we all enjoyed dinner and my neice asked for dessert- our reply was, “We don’t have any dessert tonight- I’m sorry!” Her reply? Oh- I have something in my purse…were she proceeded to pull out some candy that she got from the store. I had to leave because I didn’t want her to see me laughing- I’m unsure of how her mother handled the situation, and I’m sure I will be faced with that at some point with my daughter. You did a fine job- no need to embarass her!!

    I really enjoy all of your post and your girls are beautiful! Keep it up!

  87. That picture of Nella with her book makes my heart melt!

  88. Amazing job Mama! Relying on instincts alone is often an unsettling feeling… where are those damn cue cards?!?… but it’s what we’ve got as we navigate the wild & wooly streets of the mother-hood.
    And when did Miss Nella turn the corner into young-girlhood? She is looking so grown up… even covered in dinner! :-)
    Happy recital & rest of your weekend.

  89. No perfect mothers and no perfect kids either. Lots of good ones though. The only way to find that path is to take some wrong turns along the way.
    My biggest frustration is the same mistake being repeated over and over again….Lord help me, that drives me nuts!

  90. LOVE Nella’s food covered face! So cute!
    I think you handled your stealing situation great. Had Presley seen Lainey take the toy, a more direct return may have been necessary… but you took time later to reflect and reiterate the lesson.
    I tend to over react to these types of things so I’m glad I’ve gotten to read your perfect cue card. I’ll tuck it away to use when I need it (hopefully the thought will POP to the surface at the moment and not after).
    Hope YOU have a great holiday! Can’t wait to read how you celebrated…

  91. I think you did an excellent job with the stealing incident. I appreciate that you want to raise your girls with love and compassion for others…that is so rare these days. I have passed your blog on to some friends that have and are expecting a child with Down Syndrome and they are so appreciative of the information you are sharing in your experience. May God continue to bless you and your family. Keep up the good work.

  92. I like the way you handled it. You gave her a lot of chances to do the right thing without shaming her. That sense will stay with her, I’m sure.

    In other news, GUESS WHAT?????? For real this time – no ambiguity. Due in January! Holding on tight to hope! :)

  93. i think you handled it well. my daughter Aven is just a couple months older than Lainey, and we had to deal with lying briefly as well recently.

    one thing i have chatted with her about that has REALLY stuck is the idea of “self control”. i once heard Michelle Duggar (mama of 19 crazily-well-behaved kids) say that self-control is one of the main things that she emphasizes to them. so with Aven, we talked about it a few times and I tried to give her context situations to describe what it means. i was totally blown away a couple weeks later when she was watching Tangled, she said “mommy, Rapunzel didn’t use self-control! she left the tower when her mommy said not to!” and later that week we left a friend’s house and she told me that she had wanted to take the doll she had been playing with, but used self control instead. now, she has her moments obviously where self-control is NOT used, but it has given her an amazing awareness about not always compulsively doing exactly what she wants, but instead doing the right thing. definitely a tip i want to pass along to you and all your readers! michelle duggar knows what she’s doing :)

  94. Ha – love Nella’s spaghetti face :) She reminds me so much of my 3 year old, same Fairy Floss blonde hair and cheeky smile!
    Lainey is a beautiful sweet caring girl – you did a good job, have a groovy day.

  95. My girl was just a little older than Lainey when she stole something from Michael’s crafts store. She took a shiney rock that had fallen out of it’s bag. We got out to the van and I was like what is that and she told me where she got it. I told her she had to go to the cashier and give her the rock back and apologize. I told her people go to prison for stealing. I made a big deal about it. But calmly and she did what I asked of her. I also told her pre school teacher so she could tell Brianna how proud she was of her for doing the right thing. Kinda wanted to insert more positive in what she did and not drown her in the bad and prison and orange jump suit talks! :o) It all worked like a charm and she’s 13 now and never has done such again. It really made an impact how I handled it. Now we are dealing with mean girls. :o( To the point of transfering her to another school, but if they do not accept the transfer we will homeschool. UGH! That fact scares me more than anything! ME? Homeschooling my child! Of course we will join a group. Just do not want anymore mean girls and it has been bad.

    Loved Nella’s messy face! Must have been good whatever it was she was eating!

    The dance recital picture on FB is just adorable! Frame it!


  96. Sweet story, I think there is no doubt you are doing a good job!

    I think in the first photo of Nella you can REALLY tell that she is getting to be a toddler, you can see how old she is getting! So cute!

    And along with everyone else-LOVE the overalls-wonder if I can get some in an adult size small? 😉

  97. If it is of any comfort – lying is a normal part of childhood development and a necessary social skill. It also indicates intelligence. All that is from a purely psychological perspective though and morally, it isn’t nice. But I thought I would throw this in here because it is an interesting read on lying and childhood development …

    For what it’s worth, I think you did a great job. It is so hard to know what to do with ‘new’ behaviours when they crop up. I find myself out of my depth all the time and I am learning through trial and error, but it sounds like you did a great job to me :)

  98. those chairs are to die for!! may i ask where they’re from?

  99. Wow. I just realized I have no idea how I will handle these types of situations… I think the best thing to do is to go with the punches, go with your gut. I guess we have to trust that we were raised right, so we have all the tools we need to raise our kids. Maybe my little man will be perfect and I’ll never have to worry about the lectures…. right…

    Love the picture Miss Lainey and the umbrella!! The hair!! Too precious! Happy Memorial Day:0)

  100. Piper is 10 months old and I’m already contemplating how I will approach issues like this…I think you did very well!

  101. Sounds like you handled it with grace.

    A little story. I remember a lie I told, well not so much told but let my parents believe was the truth (!). My parents had just finished the addition of a brand new room on the house. They invited a family over for lunch not long after, us kids couldn’t help ourselves we pulled apart the couch (which was basically long mattresses stacked up) and decided it would be great fun to jump from one side to the other. We kept pulling them further apart and attempting the jump. All was going well until I jumped and put my knee through the wall! Shocked, we quickly put the couch back and “hid” the hole with a cushion. My parents of course found it later, and asked us all (I’m one of 5 children) what happened, and was met with silence, and we let them believe one of the visiting kids had done it. I don’t know why my siblings didn’t blab. I always felt so guilty about it. I fessed up one day (probably 10 years later) during a family bible reading/prayer time. My parents just cracked up laughing- they couldn’t believe that I’d done it and let them think it was the other children, I think they realised I was remorseful enough!

  102. Great job! I was in Michael’s with my 5 year old daughter. She found a piece of a red feather on the floor and asked if she could have it. I told her that I thought it was garbage, but that we don’t take things without paying. She told the cashier she found it but it didn’t have a price tag. (LOL) The cashier passed it over the scanner, made a beeping sound and put it in the bag. :) When we got in the car, we talked about how it was good to be honest. She has that feather in her treasure box.

  103. Oh, Kelle!!!
    It merits applause! Please accept mine….clap, clap, clap! You are aware of your kids. It sounds so simple, but that’s what matters. So many kids go unnoticed. That makes me sad. This post made me feel proud of you; proud of moms and dads that care, who notice, who love their kids with attention.

    It pays off. Two days in a row now, strangers have complimented our boys (& Nora, too :) for their respectful attitudes and good manners. I hugged them tightly, teared up, and told them how proud that makes me and Daddy. Seriously, I was so choked up in CostCo, I lost focus on our grocery list.

    I make mistakes daily with our boys, so therefore, I’m apologizing daily as well. Saying “I’m sorry” has been some of the best words I’ve ever spoken to my boys!

    Now I’m rambling.
    Just so passionate about my kiddos….and yours, too :)

  104. I and so many of my friends have also been shocked by having to deal with the stealing/lying thing from our beautiful, sweet, innocent, younger-than-6-years-old girls. I think it’s more traumatic for us as parents than anything. The good thing is, they do remember those lessons, even if they’re not scary harsh… they at least learn that Mamas find out stuff, and there’s not much you can hide from your mama, and I think that’s a great lesson, too. I dealt with stealing 3 times with my older daughter and just once with my younger daughter. Can you guess which one is the stubborn one??

  105. I had a day when my 2 year old son would not put on his boots. It was Winter, snowy and cold out. After repeatedly asking him and telling him to put on his boots, I said “if you walk outside in the snow without your boots, your feet are going to get so cold that they will fall off! so we need to put on your boots!” yes, it was too much, but he put on his boots!

  106. I spend a lot of nights tallying my good parenting calls against the bad (which I always remember more of). I just try and be thankful when I’m told I’m doing a good job and try not to expect perfection from myself or them. You’re right, there are so many signs you do things right when your kids know you love them.

  107. When my daughter was 2, I was holding her on my hip while I browsed in a store full of little attractive trinkets. We left, not buying anything, but when I went to pay for our lunch at our next stop I was pretty appalled to find a few little “stolen” items in my purse!

    My 2 year old, 4 year old and 6 year old and I all went back to explain what happened to the owner who, as I recall (20 years later) didn’t act like she really believed me!

  108. Maddie took a toy home from school when she was 3. I was floored. Mostly because I was unprepared for what to do. Also the fact that I found out about it b/c she wanted me to. She was too little to actually hide it from me. I did the same thing- totally envisioned a life of thievery- how one small act suddenly wiped out 3 years of kindnesses. I remember fessing up to the teacher and making her return it and learning that at that age- don’t intend it the same as someone older- they don’t understand yours and mine in the same conceptual way. They just know they wanted something and if they stuck it “here” well then, they figured out how to make themselves a little bit happier. In the end I ended up not lecturing too hard about the actual taking and spending a lot of time talking about being “truthful” and always telling/talking to momma when something new was going on. Since then we’ve had instances where she’s tried to sneak toys into school- but she at least tells me about it.

  109. Beautifully handled!! Gorgeous girls as always.
    That Nella is showing herself to be a real little character in your photo’s.(love the food on the face one.)

  110. Perhaps this one time it might have been okay to simply leave the toy, but you’ll have many other moments arise where full consequence will need to be taught in order to avoid a disservice to your little one. My oldest is five and we’re constantly teaching about honesty and accountability. Good job on keeping your cool, Mama.

  111. Kelle, i think you handled the situation perfectly, especially since your girl is so young. What I think is important is that the lesson was made using empathy for her friend. I also have my daughter look at my eyes when I try to make a point and we always end with snuggles. :)

  112. I don’t see why not tell her that the car seat keeps her from being hurt. Sometimes the shock of reality sticks with us.

    Also, the unconditional love you showed her — that is what will be the thing to keep pulling from as your kids test you in myriad ways in the coming decades. :)

  113. Thanks again Kelle, for your honesty, and for again reminding us why this parenthood thing is the most challenging, and important, and cherished, jobs we will ever have. Having raised two boys, and missing so much those years, you remind me how scary and overwhelming it was at times. I’m exhausted just remembering! One of the best things to look forward to, is seeing the decisions they make as adults, and the character they have, and the realization that, all those times you didn’t think they were listening, or you think you didn’t teach them a thing… they will remind you of all they learned from you. It will..blow…your…mind.

  114. I will tell you the same thing I told one of my other mama friends who was worrying over something she had said to her child the other day :”the mere fact that you are worrying over it, shows you are a good mama”. As long as we think about most things we say to our kids and always show them how to handle life’s ups and downs, they will turn out just fine!

  115. You did just right with Lainey. She is a sensitive little soul. These kids’ spirits are so easily crushed. Obviously you got through to her, she felt remorse and returned the toy. Shaming our kids is never a good idea. You managed it all with grace and without shame. Well done!

  116. My little two year old man just walked into the office and loudly exclaimed – “She’s Cute!” (It took me by surprise, he’s never said that before) and the affection of his eye was beautiful Nella! Thanks for your post, I have this inner mother battle every day! Finding your blog through Creative Mama has really blessed my life – Thank you x

  117. I have read in multiple places that people who avoid wrong behavior because they don’t want to hurt someone are making that decision from a better place than people who avoid wrong behavior because they don’t want to get in trouble. I think you did such a great job of emphasizing kindness, love, respect, concern for others feelings and well-being.

  118. A big HELLO from Perth, Western Australia..
    Long time reader, first time poster.
    Thankyou for allowing us into your gorgeous family.
    I look forward to reading your new adventures of a evening once my 2 children are tucked in bed sleeping.
    Gosh hasn’t Nella’s hair all of a sudden grown, Such a gorgeous girl.
    Great photo of Lainey and her lollipop xx

  119. This is a tough topic. I haven’t had to deal with it yet, but worry the day will eventually come. Good job in the way you handled it!

  120. Kelle~

    Haven’t read all the posts, so I am not sure if this has been said already:) Your reaction to Lainey was beautiful…….you took a teachable moment, and taught her empathy:) Asking her how she would feel if something of hers was taken without permission let her learn the feelings surrounding the situation.

    Beautifully done……….

    Susan from Boston

  121. I respond with a resounding “oh!”. You put into words what I’ve been thinking about much this past week. Thank you for sharing.

  122. Cue cards?!?….that’s the ticket to me being a millionaire!! TOO bad there is NO way to produce them….every child needs an individual personalized set and only a good mama can create that set. I feel like a bragger, (because of my 2 amazing kids), when I say….The acorn does not fall far from the tree…I think it is true tho’….that said keep on being that mighty Oak Kelle!

    Bug & Ruby’s Gram

    ps…I applaud you Bulldogma…

  123. Love this story! You handled it perfectly. She is sweet and good.

  124. I will never forget the day I made my little girl (three at the time?) sit on the counter at Home Depot for fifteen minutes…. the time it took for her to hand the clerk the batteries she had stuck in my purse and apologize for taking them. Harsh? Maybe… she sat there crying most of the time. But she is fourteen now, and we have never had an issue with stealing. She remembers having to sit there, and how difficult is was to deal with the consequences. I think, under the circumstances, you did great!

  125. Haha! How on earth did Nella get food everywhere?!
    You’re a good momma , just keep living what you say, being a model from which a child can learn by “catching” the essence of godly living (Deuteronomy 4:9).

  126. What a great lesson you taught Lainey. Kids will mess up and we have to teach them right from wrong. Sometimes they don’t know any better and that’s when we teach them.

    Nella looks fabulous with food everywhere in her necklace.

  127. Oh, I too have been down that road. I never think I handle it properly. My youngest stole a bead from the beading store that we frequent. Shes 4 and as we were walking away from the store, she pulled it out of her pocket to show me how pretty it was. I asked her where she got it and she immediately looked down. We went back in to the store to return it and apologize – she broke down crying and I felt so bad. Bad that she was crying, and ashamed that she took it. That little bugger likes to steal my clothes too – if she sees a dress of mine she wants she hides it in her drawer! She’s 4!

  128. I think you totally handled the removing of objects that weren’t hers well. It sounds like she understood that it was wrong.

  129. The first and only thing I ever stole was a happy meal toy. I remember feeling so guilty about it that I couldn’t sleep until I had managed to slip it back into the owners toy box.
    I never stole again because I couldn’t deal with the guilt! lol

  130. Your little ones are so precious! Being a mom is so rewarding, I also have a little one and blog about him at http;//
    Hopefully you and your subscribers can check it out

  131. My heart turns inside out when I see Nella’s big smile!
    You responded well with Lainey – she’s going to be just fine! 😉

  132. I love this post so much. This parenting gig is hard!

  133. Great Post as always! I think Lainy grew a foot in the last little bit! She looks really tall in those green overalls which I love btw!

  134. Oh how great would it be to have cue card to cover these kinds of things! I think you handled it perfectly and I think Lainey has probably learnt a valuable lesson in a gentle way! I hope I can pull out this cue card when my nearly 4 year old does the same thing (which I’m sure he will at some point ;o) )

    Andrea x

  135. Wow I love this post very much

  136. Being a poor child, I took a Pez dispenser from a rich friend when I was five years old…wrong I know. I returned it(after my mother chastised me) to the mother of the child, but from then on I was tagged as the “Sneak” of the neighborhood. I am glad you had her return it anonymously…you did good.

  137. You have a new fan… I looooved your photos!!! and your girls are beautiful!

  138. I think your reaction was just right. You steered her into the appropriate behavior and she was not traumatized. Your words gave her something to reflect on after she did the right thing.

    Excellent parenting, IMO!

    — Joan from PA (teacher and parent of 2 in their twenties)

  139. In this very moment I needed to read this post! I have a 1 1/2 year old who has perfected tantrum throwing and I constantly analyze my ability to set a good example and to give her the right kind of attention, posture, and coolness. Thank you for sharing the quote about being a good mother; it is attainable!

  140. A colleague of mine sent me your blog last week, and now your blog is now my get ready for bed routine! I work with special needs children (in NYC, as an ABA Therapist), so your story, family and precious daughters are truly touching. I can relate to you being over analyzing, and always wanting to make sure to say and do the right thing with my kids I teach. No matter what you say to Lainey it’s right because you felt it in the moment. Don’t have regrets and should of, would have, could haves. There’s always another day tomorrow. Happy long weekend! -B

  141. Kelle -I think you handled it perfectly!

  142. You did the right thing! The power of words far exceeds the power of belittling and humiliation. Keep that conversation flowing with your daughters:)

  143. 1) I think disappointment from momma can be the most effective discipline at times.
    2) She took something she wanted, which is wrong, but she did return it. Likely not a future criminal. Hurting animals on purpose, for example, would be an entirely different issue. KWIM?
    3) Nella is so beautiful! That last picture of her smiling with her eyes closed just made my heart skip a beat.
    4) Love Lainey’s Princess Leia pig tails!
    5) They have spam sandwiches in prison? Gross! So not going there! :)

  144. Sounds like with Lainey’s head drop and willingness to return, her heart already knew the lesson you were stressing to teach her. What a role we mamas play in our littles lives. Thank YOU for the encouragement and inspiration to live and soak up and enjoy these moments. Nella’s pictures are purely delightful, and Laineys big hershey-kiss eyes are getting deeper by the day.

    Found a book in the library the other day and thought about you…can’t remember the author but the title was “The Boy Who Cried Fabulous”. It’s AWESOME, fabulous, fantastic…and FULL of favorite adjectives. :)

  145. Thank you Kellee….I couldn’t have read your post at a better time. I too often overanalyze…with the hope of raising caring, contientous, loving, responsible children. Your post was comforting!!! I’m so glad I found you.

  146. Kelle, i really like how you handled the happy meal toy incident. the fact that she was willing to disclose to you (even after some coaxing) is a great sign of the strength of your relationship. i like how you handled it in the end – there was no need to shame her, the way you explained it was easy to understand, and she could rectify the situation (thanks to you) without drama. my daughter is only 18 months old and i love seeing examples like this of how to handle such situations. you did a great think for her as a person and for your relationship, in my humble opinion. thank you for sharing – it is such a relief to read and think about.

  147. awwwee. Poor Lainey! :) she is so sweet! Love the overalls too. xo

  148. Thank you for your post!! I really needed to hear your words. I have been experiencing the same thoughts of wondering if I am teaching my little guy like a good mom should. Your words were uplifting and funny. Keep it up. I love reading.

  149. I use exaggeration all the time, in teaching, and then regret it later. I totally know where youre coming from.

  150. Oh these moments are difficult. We are handling some small issues with our 5yr old son. Sometimes I am so desperate for him to understand what I am trying to teach that I talk too much and I wind up sounding to him like one of the adults on a PEANUTS cartoon. Wah,wha wha wha… I thought it was great that you didn’t flat out accuse Lainey but that you explained the situation and let her do the rest. Applause!

  151. Kelle… I love you! I love EVERYTHING about this blog. I wish I knew you, you bottomless source of everything wise and sweet!

    That’s all.

  152. You did just fine. Better than fine, actually! I keep thinking about how it will continue getting more and more difficult/complicated to guide and teach my little guy as he gets older. As long as love comes first, I think he’ll be ok.

  153. I couldn’t relate MORE to this post this morning. My son and I had a ‘thing’ just yesterday. I’m an over analyzer as well and I probably dwell over things I say a little too much. My comment to him yesterday was off the cuff and not the best one at all….a while later we talked and I tried to do the “cue card” thoughtful response…..he stopped me, gave me the sweetest hug and told ME “it’s ok Momma, I understand why you got upset”. I couldn’t have been more proud. He got it. And I really think they do.
    For what it’s worth, I think you handled the stealing thing perfectly.
    You are not kidding when you talk about how much pressure it is to teach these babes the right path. I think you’re doing a great job.
    One other quick thing…those cheap happy meal toys are like gold in my house. Our two would get along famously. 😉

  154. I’m no parenting expert but I think you handled that beautifully. What an incredible momma you are. Give yourself a pat on the back and two kisses to your sweet girls!!!

  155. Huh, it must be the age! About a month ago, my 4 yr old got a little rubber frog from the dr. A couple days later, I saw a few more frogs – this time plastic, but about the same size. I asked where he got them and he said from school. Every.time I turned around there would be more frogs! When my husband came home, we asked him again and his story kept changing – his friend said he could have them, or his teacher said he could have them. Finally we had him put all of the frogs in a container and we made *him* return them to his teacher and apologize for taking them. Like Lainey, it was clear he knew he shouldn’t have had them, but I think he learned his lesson :)

  156. I love messy face baby pic! adorable.

    PS I’ve been meaning to tell you that I LOVE your choice of music!
    xoxo Karolina :)

  157. I’m going through the same thing with my son, Aidan, right now. (He just turned 5). I swear I’ve had the EXACT same conversation you had with Lainey, and I never know if it’s enough.

  158. LOVED this post! I laughed out loud and felt all teary…your girls are precious :) Thanks for sharing!

  159. I am not a parent yet, but heard a family friend say at a Memorial Day BBQ this weekend what I think is quite wise:

    “Values are sometimes caught, not taught.”

    You’re great, always look forward to your posts, thanks!

  160. Wow, your post gave me a lot to think about. Love the discussion it prompted! I’m not a momma yet, but will remember this post when I have a Winonna incident pop up. I really like what everyone had to say about not shaming Lainey. Well handled. It changed my mind for sure!

  161. There have been so many times when I wonder if I did the right thing and if the “lesson” was ingrained properly. This mommy thing is not easy! Sometimes I think I “over-talk” the issue to death, that even my 3.5 year old will say, “I don’t want to talk about it anymore mom.” Ha! Thanks for sharing your story. Lainey is still a gem :)

  162. As I over analyze my own parenting responses I always come back to this quote from a counselor friend… “You can teach what you know, but you reproduce who you are.” Which actually takes the pressure off because my girls will absorb more of my own character than the character that my words will attempt to describe to them. And in your case, two more girls with some of your traits is a good thing for this world.

    Oh, and my favorite part of the umbrella pic is the paint on her hands. Love it.

  163. I know exactly how you feel on saying the right thing at the right time.. My 4.5 year old has been undoing her seat belt before I say it is okay. Recently, I heard her click off the seatbelt as we were driving into the driveway. (We live at the end of cul-de-sac and I could see there wasn’t a car/bike/cow in sight.) So in that 10 second span I decided to hit the breaks. It was enough that she stumbled forward into the seat in front of her. Most people would probably think it is wrong but me constantly tellnig/lecturing her on the importance of wearing her seatbelt weren’t getting through to her. Since that day, she hasn’t undone the seat belt unless an all clear has been given. Sometimes, the mommas have to go with the gut because we know how our kids absorb things. My Madilyn is a realist. She wants proof that I’m not full of b.s. And in this case, I’m not.

  164. that is exactly what we’ve been thinking through lately. I’m learning to be even more patient these days with my kids. I see them lose their cool more often when I do. Thanks for your words. I had time to read them today and really can agree with these thoughts! You Go, Mama!!

  165. “It was a big deal to me–I never expected my kid would purposefully steal something and think to hide it from me–at least not when she’s only four, and I thought of all the things I could have said–the perfect scripts the parenting books suggest you robotically rattle off in situations like this.”

    Better when she is 4…..such a natural thing at that age. It was done out of a pre schoolers thought process of, I want that! No malice, no meaness just simple desire. Total normal stage of growing up, better now than at 15!!!!!

    My 4 year old is starting to “lie” to me now too, it is usually done because of her fear of getting in “trouble”. It could be as small as spilling some juice, she will insist she didn’t do it even if I saw her because she hates to get in trouble!!!!!! I am trying to teach her that no matter how much “trouble” she gets in, it is so much better to tell the truth. It is a hard lesson to teach such young ones.

  166. Great post! I know as a mom I worry about “life” lessons as well. Laughed out loud at the Wynonna Ryder comment!

  167. I understand. And I agree. No one is perfect. All that we can do as mothers, is to do our best. :) Great post!

  168. I’m fairly certain that one of the characteristic traits of being a good mom is worrying that you’re being a good mom. It’s not that I think worry should be a common trait, just that if you care enough to analyze how you’re handling situations, you’re doing good. I know when I look back, not every situation is handled well, but sometimes we learn from those too.

    My oldest is almost 8 and I still struggle with tough topics, such as why his uncle is missing and where he is- how to cross over into truth without scaring, how to show hope when what you tell them says otherwise…. I pray that I show him more than I have to tell him, and not just with that topic. I’m sure you show your girls daily, so even if the words aren’t perfect every now and then, the love still is.

  169. One important fact of life I learned from the pediatric dentist I work for (a mama of 4, mind you): all kids are habitual liars!! They are, I’m serious! Agh my 5 year old lies his ass off, but all we can do is what you did- correct & explain. Someday, they’ll stop. I guess I shouldn’t be so harsh, he has been much better lately…toy stealing is no longer, but now we’re working on the playing mommy & daddy (daddy says no, so go ask mommy and wait for a YES, that kind of thing), but even now, when I ask what daddy said, he just doesn’t say anything. Better than a lie I suppose. lol

    And honey, I think we’ve all used the BODY THROUGH THE WINDSHIELD answer when the carseat question gets brought up. It;s like a rite of passage. lol I also said to my son, when he protested that he would NOT go to kindergarten next year that “If you don’t go, MOMMY GOES TO JAIL!!!” Guess who’s willing to go to kindy now??? (and he’s actually excited now, though not bc of my jail comment. hahaha)

  170. Quick question…..the new pictures over Nella on the chair -canvas or something else? LOVE them!

  171. Kelle,
    My children are grown (well the baby is 20, that’s pretty grown) but I am continually inspired by your writing and your pictures. My favorite today is reading on the daybed. As for the toy, I think you handled it well. She made amends without being shamed. If it happened again you might need to have her make an apology, but my guess is that it probably won’t. And even then I think I’d apologize to the parent not the child who might not have the maturity to handle accepting the apology~ and hopefully the parent would.

  172. I love your blog. I have 2 girls very close in age to both of your girls and so it all hits close to home. We certainly all struggle at times with knowing what to do.

    Totally unrelated, but has anyone ever told that you look like the lead singer for Feist? I was just watching the 1234 video on Youtube and it totally looked like you to me. You should rock the blue sequined adult onesie she wears in the video for Halloween this year and force your family to dress up as your background dancers!!! I am trying to force my family to dress up like Calliou’s family just so I can see my husband wear a turtleneck sweater. Anyway, love your blog and pictures!!!

  173. I have to say as much as I literally always agree with you, I feel like maybe in this circumstance it could have been a little bit harsher.
    I took something from a store when I was Laineys age and my mom marched me right up to the customer service desk, told them that I took it. I am now 25 and you bet I still remember that day, and have never taken anything from a store from that point. Sometimes lessons are hard, but they are lasting, and I don’t think that I would remember that same lesson had my mother just sat me down and made me look into her eyes and promise never to do so again.

  174. :)

  175. You may not want to hear it but it’s actually a great developmental milestone. Learning to lie shows that her brain is developing as it should and that she is learning right from wrong. If she had just taken it and not hidden it, she would still not know that she was doing wrong. By hiding it and lieing she is showing you that she is developing her own independence and decision making skills. Learning right from wrong (and understanding the impact these have on others) is an incredible leap for small children.

    It may not be a skill you want to shout the world like “she can walk” but still its a required skill. Now she just needs to learn when lying is appropriate “thanks Grandma the shirt is lovely….”

    Its a stage – an important one but maybe a not so pleasant one.

  176. Oh, how I love this post! And the comments afterwards were like the dessert after a kickass meal.

    My mom was cutting my bangss and asked me if I had brushed my teeth. I hadn’t but told her I did. I know exactly where we were sitting on the sidewalk when she stopped, put the scissors down and asked me again with a “I know youre lying” tone to answer again. and i burst into tears confessing I had not brushed my teeth. You never know what they’ll remember so giving them the same message of love everyday will prevail.

    If I would’ve brushed my teeth, I think I would’ve gotten a puppy.


  177. This comment has been removed by the author.

  178. The picture of the sunset is amazing!

    And what a coincidence for the name Kelle :)
    I have my blog since 2007 and i know yours since few months but i like the way you like to tell your life.

    You have a fan in France :)

  179. Ahhh…the pictures of Lainey lovin’ on Nella are gorgeous. So cute. I gotsta think about your challenge for June…so many things I need to do….I’ll get back to ya! Seriously I will because I want to learn that creed. xo

  180. I love your blog & look forward to reading it everyday. Thank you for your transparency & honesty. It is refreshing & encouraging to read… you seem to be a wonderful mother & all we can do is do our best with the gifts we have been given & entrusted with & He really takes care of the rest.

  181. Affirming. Very well stated. Encouraging. Thank you.

  182. I think that you need to handle stealing based on a child’s personality. I think the point is to get the point across without putting permanent embarassment in their minds. Like if you made her return it to her friend, Lainey may have the personality where she would be too embarassed to play with her friend again for a while. When my brother was little, he stole that ooze they used to make when Ninja Turtle figures were cool. My mom brought him back in the store, sat him on the counter, and made him tell the manager. But he had the personality where he thought he could do no wrong and so anything less would probably not have gotten the message across. I think you handled it well.

  183. Wow. I’m not quite there yet, but I decided to read all the comments to get some real life experience from others. It’s good to see that you’re getting so much feedback. What a great resource!

    I waiver between beat-it-to-death over analysis or don’t-sweat-the-small-stuff attitude. Push comes to shove, I’ll probably be harder on myself. We are just getting into the lying stage, and yes, I’ve seen Alex try to take stuff from a store. I know it’s peanuts compared to what’s ahead. But still, important lessons for all, not just for the kid.

    Rockin’ beach shots. I needed that lift. In the last few days of serious party preparation. Bed calls…


  184. I love your blog. I love your photos and your graceful attitude. Nella reminds me so much of my daughter, Cassidy, who was born in September 2009 (so is a bit older, I think?). They have similar expressions.

    Your blog makes me feel happy. And inspired. Thanks.

  185. Hey girl its been a few since I’ve commented but I wanted to tell you the news since your my FAV BLOGGER :) IM PREGNANT! :) and you’ve helped to inspire me and get me through everything so I know no matter what I’m ready for whatever this baby has rather he or she is healthy or not :) everyone always hopes for a healthy baby right now I’m just hopen for a heart beat! , <3 your daughters are beautiful and I love the PINK socks haha love you…

    Koras Mommy pluss one :)

  186. I am a wife of 7 wonderful years & mother of two ~ Lilly is 5 and William is 2. I am also a nurse in the NICU and read your blog every chance I get. I am inspired both at home and at work by the words you write and the pictures you take. Thank you for putting into words all the guts & glory of being a wife, mother & friend. It often makes me feel a little more (normal) for the thoughts & feelings I never thought I would experience as a wife, mother, friend & nurse. The “What If” post still touches me every time I think of it.
    Have a beautiful summer and may God Bless you & your adorable family.
    p.s. I ABSOLUTELY love Kate Bush’s “This Women’s Work”

  187. Hi Kelle, remember that post you did about doing a post on photography tips? Any chance of accelerating that to maybe…soon? LOL :) I need some help before my kiddos get too big they no longer want their pictures taken. Thanks a bunch@

  188. Oh my…the picture of Nella covered in baby food – PRICELESS!

  189. I remember that when I was just a little older than Lainey I ‘collected’ a few items that I had found lying around, one was a scented pencil I think! My dad asked me where I got them and explained that I couldn’t take them because they belonged to other people who’d miss them, probably a bit like you did. I was quite upset because I honestly hadn’t realised that it was wrong or stealing, I gave them back of course but it was wierd how you do have to learn the concept of not taking things, even though you might think it would come naturally. It probably only comes when you see or have explained that taking things will upset other people. I am sure that this has been a important lesson for Lainey like it was for me ( it is quite telling that I remember it I think), even though we both surely had very innocent motives!

  190. I remember Dawson-now almost 13, at 4 having his first ‘stealing’ indecent! Pokemon cards. in the end, I called the police, told them what happened at Walmart after I told him no, he couldn’t have the cards, they came to the house and talked with him-I will NEVER forget his eyes when he walked around the corner and saw the police officer! The officer made him do a ‘police’ pledge that he would never steal again! Good news-no issues YET!!! HUGS

  191. Wow. Isn’t Down Syndrome beautiful? I can tell that you have a joy that others are missing. If only everyone could be influence by these beautiful children, it would solve all the problems of life. Our youngest child has Down Syndrome. Her name is Ellie and she is a little younger than Nella. She makes me smile and laugh and love more deeply and because of her, life has become more meaningful to me.

  192. I Love this post!!
    I stole something once, and it must have been around that age, i took a pretty purple stone that belonged to another kid in kindergarten, and I never ever forgot how bad it made me feel!! nobody found out, and still the regret ate me up inside, I ended up taking that stone back to kindergarten and putting it back in one of his pockets, and vowed never ever to take something that didnt belong to me again.. and i never have!
    My point being, i think u did an excellent job, most likely she feels bad enough about stealing and getting caught without making a big scene!
    when its the first time and she is 4, i dont think its a big deal, if it happens again…. well that bridge u cross if u ever get there..

    love ur blog!!
    check out mine too! :)

  193. I know it has been ages and ages since you posted this, but I have been so enjoying reading your blog and read a few ‘back issues’. When you wrote that on the ride home, Lainey talked over and over again about how much Presley would love the salon kit, and putting the barrettes in her sister’s hair, it struck me that she was talking about how much she would have loved to do those same things. Maybe in an effort to ‘even the score’, and help herself deal with the disappointment of giving some much desired toys to another kid, she took something for herself. I remember as a kid, that it was kind of agonizing to give away a gift that I would have loved for myself. It doesn’t excuse the stealing or the lying, and I only hope that I can handle such a situation as well as you did! And it also goes to show how sweet of a heart Lainey has, that she wanted her friend to enjoy those things as much as she would have.

  194. I know this post is old but I just wanted to say … when I was little, I stole a bible too! Thank God I’m not alone? haha

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