Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Children Are Losing It Advisory System

Do you all know Stark.Raving.Mad.Mommy? She's one of our dearest friends that we've never met.  She is hilarious and awesome and honest and an amazing writer and we adore her.  If you haven't read her stuff yet, we just know you're going to love her and her blog as much as we do.


About a year ago, Kate and Lydia were kind enough to provide all of our children the Mommy May Lose Her Schmidt Advisory System. It's a simple enough system to follow; when Mommy is happy, everyone is happy.

Thanks to this helpful system, my kids are pretty clear on when I'm about to lose my schmidt. Or maybe they just finally noticed that when the veins are popping out on my forehead, and you can actually hear my jaw clenching, that I'm about to lose it. However, the minivan still remains challenging for them, because they can't see my face. They do seem to be picking up on the fact that if I throw a soft pretzel across the van, I might be losing it. If they fail to notice that, I might have to slam tap the breaks slightly harder than necessary to get their attention, because nothing drives the point home like a little whiplash.

It's really best if you only throw
*one* pretzel across the van. 
Any more than that,
 and it's just wasteful.

In all fairness, though, it works both ways: when our kids are happy, we are happy. Perhaps the kids need a similar advisory system to keep us informed as to their own schmidt-losing status.

We have way too much experience with the schmidt-losing in our house. We have four kids, all within five years of age. Toss in an ADHD diagnosis and an autism diagnosis, and believe me, we have seen our share of tantrums.

Recently, my son Little Dude had a flat-out, jacket-throwing, on-the-floor meltdown. At Target. There's really nothing quite like the special, special pride of seeing your child kicking the floor in a public place. Nothing to see here, folks. Just a five-year-old having a conniption fit. Don't act like this has never happened to you.

Following the Schmidt Advisory System format, we'll start at the bottom.

Green: I'm happy. I slept well last night and I know where all my Littlest Pet Shops / Lego guys / Webkinz are. I have eaten recently, but I don't need to poop.

What Mom and Dad should do: Nothing. Ab-so-freaking-lutely nothing. You know how they tell you never to wake a sleeping baby. Don't mess with a happy kid.

Blue: I'm a little sad. And maybe a little whiny. I need a snack but I can't figure out that I'm hungry, so I'm just going to whine and whinge at you. My stomach hurts a little bit and it's embarrassing how every time I saw that my stomach hurts, you ask if I need to poop. And then it's super-annoying that you're always right; I need to poop. Also, I want to watch TV but there's nothing good on. Why don't we have all the premium channels?

What Mom and Dad should do: Sniff the diaper and respond appropriately, or tell the child to sit on the potty. Provide a snack and a hug, and then point out that if they can't find something else to do, you'll be happy to provide a list of suggested activities like cleaning under the beds or moisturizing mom's feet.

Yellow: Things are falling apart here, folks. We need a full meal and a nap, and if those things don't happen quickly, it's really not going to be pretty. We reached Code Yellow on a near-daily basis for years in our house, always during the witching hours of 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. By the time Daddy got home, things would be back to happy-happy Code Green. This is not due to some miraculous Daddy Power. It's because by then they would have eaten dinner, pooped, and gotten clean diapers.

Fine. I won't
super-size the nuggets.
What Mom and Dad should do: You still have a chance that distraction in the form of hugs, stickers, or SpongeBob might turn things around or at least buy you time to microwave some macaroni and cheese. Now is not the time to prep and cook a lovely five-course meal. Your kid doesn't need a fine dining experience; your kid needs the quickest, reasonably healthy thing you can dump into a bowl. Cereal is your friend. And if you're out and about? There's a reason they call it the Happy Meal. Yeah, I know Morgan Spurlock doesn't approve. But he doesn't have to deal with my whiny, hungry kids for the next two hours while I brave traffic with four kids in the car, get home, and cook dinner. Yes, I should have packed organic carrot sticks and boxes of soy milk. But I didn't, Morgan. And now I will buy some peace and quiet in the form of nugget-shaped processed chicken.

[Editor's Note: Don't you think Morgan Spurlock looks like Steve Sanders from 90210? - xo, K & L]
Orange: Things are not good. Someone took my toy, I have a diaper rash, Webkinz is down for maintenance, I missed a nap today because the line at the Post Office was so long, I am overloaded with long division homework, and/or I'm just completely overwhelmed by the lights, noise, and other sensory crap we've encountered today. There is sobbing but not screaming.

What Mom and Dad should do: Get out. Get out of the store, leave the party, go home. Pretty much the only thing that's going to help now is hugging and rocking.

We have a Code Red, people. 
Please send a T-box.

Red: You didn't move fast enough and now we have screaming. We have moved right past sadness and into rage. There may be kicking, throwing, and flailing. If you're the lucky parent of a barfer, you might even have the sobbing-vomiting combination known as "vobiting." This is the point where kids don't even know anymore why they're so upset.

What Mom and Dad should do: Seriously, it's a coin toss. You can try to calm the child down, or you can just let them exhaust themselves with crying, but either way, it's going to take a while. Also, as frustrating as the situation may be, parental yelling never makes a child calm down faster. It is okay, though, to ask for help. At the grocery store this week, Little Dude was starting to melt down just as we got to the cashier.

 "How are we doing today?" she asked cheerily.

"I need to get the hell out of here or we're going to have a Code Red," I responded.

She nodded and bagged the groceries toot sweet.

I guess the Code Red is universal.


Don't forget to check out Stark.Raving.Mad.Mommy! You'll be glad you did...

(c)Herding Turtles, Inc. 2009 - 2011


  1. This rocks! Two of my favorite blogs smooshed together!

  2. Vobiting!!! I love it. Love me some SRMM anytime.

  3. "Vobiting"

    HAAAHAHAHAHAHAHA I love you guys!

  4. love this. hilarious. and SO SO SO true.

  5. It's always nice when someone else can recognize and understand the code red, and responds appropriately.

  6. Good grief, too true. I didn't realize vobiting was so common. Thanks for the scale. We'll be using it at our house. Sharing this!

  7. Vobiting may be my new favorite word. And I love grocery store cashiers who get that sometimes frazzled moms don't want to discuss the weather or worry about whether something might be on sale and do want to get the hell out of the store.

  8. i have to be honest with u... i found u thru stark.raving.mad.mommy she is awesome!!!! I also have a lil dude in the house. She puts what we go through on a daily basis into words. amazing and awesome woman. Then I found you two and my world got even better. I look foward to seeing what both blogs have to say for the day.

  9. Vobiting - pure freaking poetry. I love mommyland so much. heading over to starkravingmad right now...

  10. My mother refers (to this day) to the time between 5 - 6 pm as Arsenic Hour. ; )


  11. I love this. It's so true. Vobiting- classic!!

  12. Your stages are so accurate they should be considered scientific. When the kid starts arguing about Every. Little. Thing... It is so hard to not go code Red as a parent. Then your point about yelling at a kid in meltdown is extremely accurate. It doesn't work!

  13. I had no idea vobiting was so common. Thanks for the new word to describe a what I thought was special fun just for us! And now I have a new blog to read...

    Also, I'd love to have a matching fridge magnet for the kids' schmidt advisory system to go with the Mommy one!

  14. Love the term "vobiting"; *entered into mommy brain file for future use*

  15. We used to (and still) call a Code Red from our daughter a "Transferable Snit." It didn't matter what the original trigger/reason for the meltdown was - by the time she was in full cry, ANY excuse would do to keep it going, and she'd segue from one reason for the tantrum to another with hardly a breath in between. You'd have to be a mind reader to follow the chain of "logic" from the beginning ("I'm mad at you for not giving in to my demand for that toy/treat/activity.") through several intermediate steps ("You never buy me ANYTHING!", "Dad promised us a dog when we moved, and we still don't have a dog!", "That's MY toy, don't put it up on the fridge out of my reach just because I just winged it at your head!", and "You love my brother more than me! He gets away with EVERYTHING!") to the end ("Now I'm just MAD because I'm MAD at you for making me MAD, and I'm SO MAD that I'm going to SCREAM at you because I can't calm down and I've forgotten what I started being mad about! I'm so MAD!!").

    Days like that, it's time to isolate everyone involved in their own rooms until the storm blows over. And DD isn't even the child in our home with Aspergers. His tantrums tend to be more circular ("I'm mad because you won't give in to me, and you won't give in to me so I'm still mad!").

    Just writing about this makes me want a glass of wine. . . .

  16. The jacket throw down tantrums in public...oh yes. The best one was when my daughter had a tantrum at the library, but because you can't yell at the library, she WHISPERED the whole thing. People were standing and staring in awe at her quiet three year old fury.

  17. Also thankful for a term for what we experience all too often at our house. "Vobiting". Our "Little Dudette" began vobiting at 3 months and vobits when she gets hurt really bad too. But mostly when she is screaming her lungs out.

  18. SRMM....you are just too awesome!! Love the advisory system!!

  19. I can't tell you how much I loved this post. I tried to post this comment 6 hours ago but I had two Code Yellows followed by one Code Red. There was no vobiting but I did put everyone to bed early. Suckas!
    p.s. Yes, I need a magnet of this. Oh, yes.

  20. OMG. I am SOOO EFFING PREGNANT right now and I swear I laughed so hard at how much this applies to my two year old that I felt myself dialate. Well done.

  21. My son once had a melt down of epic proportions in the middle of Wal-Mart because I wouldn't buy the latest Kim Possible movie right now. No.freaking.way. was I giving in to him, but I had to finish my shopping cuz I was NOT going back. He threw himself under the cart so I couldn't push it without running him over. I dragged him out from under, sat him in the cart seat, finished the necessities as quickly as possible over the ear piercing screams, and then went to the check out where the check out lady had the guts to ask me "what did YOU do to HIM?" Wholly cow I about squared up on her. I just told her it was none of her business and it was in her best interest to get me out of her line as fast as possible. Last time I ever went to the store for "necessities" in a rush, AND he never did it again because I didn't give in. Most embarrassing moment of my life by far, but also the most satisfying, which I know says a ton about the reason the "Mother of the Year Award" continues to escape me. ;o)

  22. I have been known to walk away from a store tantrum... and I had a "friend" who used to keep a laminated card in her purse that read "TANTRUM! parent is aware." to throw on the floor next to a screaming child whilst she finished her errands. Judy, SC

    1. does this "friend" have an Etsy shop where I can buy one of these cards? I would like two of them - one for each of my children.

  23. Vobiting may be one of the great words of the world. Your post reminds me, yet again, that many of the world's problems--or at least the problems of many an individual in the world, no matter how important that person may be--can be solved by a snack and a really satisfying crap. Seriously. Has anyone tried to tackle the Israel-Palestine problem after administering shots of ex-lax all around, or maybe a group high colonic? I think it might do wonders.
    Genius post. Thankee.

  24. brilliant! i posted on my blog a code status for my own anxiety about things a few weeks back...but honestly, a code status for my kid would be much more helpful. probably reduce or remove the need for my own code status entirely...love this post!

  25. I love the problem solving skills of the 3 year old throwing a whispering temper tantrum in the library. I had an incident at walmart with my barely turned 3 year old and infant in a stroller. I tried to drag her out. She laid down in the middle of the floor between the cash registers and jewelry counter. Nope not in an isle where I felt I could hide it but by the front frickin door. I tried to walk away and pretend she wasn't mine. No go. She didn't even notice. I then grabbed her and drug her out while pushing a stroller at which point some strange woman walks up to me and begins to sweet talk my not so sweet little girl and try to "help" me walk her to my car. Get your murtherfurkin hands away from my daughter and quit talking to her like she's a perfect angel before my head spins around you stupid woman. I have since had many (millions) of gut wrenching, schmidt loosing moments as they are now 9 and 6. Oh lord. Thank god for women like you who GET IT! I'm not perfect and my family sure as heck isn't either.

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