It all started to go wrong while grocery shopping.

This was because I decided to let Nora push her own cart and every time I turned around she had put another frozen chicken or other random food item into it. These were things like cartons of plain yogurt (no, thank you), or roasted chestnuts (festive, but I don’t think I would know what to do with them) or Raisin Bran, which she called “meatballs.” She also proceeded to Freak Out when I took the random food item out. Each time I took something out, she screamed at me, “My Shopping!” And I could hear her really saying, “Step off, lady, I am trying to feed this family and my bubba (her brother) likes chicken and yogurt and meatballs!”

So finally, because I wanted to seem like I actually had some semblance of control over the small human I was shopping with, I had to get down and say,”Okay, sister, here’s how it’s going to go down. You can only put what I give you in your cart or we can just put that cart away.” Boo-yah, little girl.

In retrospect, Love and Logic would have told me to say, “You can choose to be a freaky crazy person and have your cart put away or you can choose to be normal and continue to push that thing around like a pretend grown-up.” But, sometimes my Love and Logic training slips from my brain and all I can think of is my Threats and Bribes training.

But, amazingly, she took the ultimatum in stride, and said in a surprised tone, “Oh!”

“Like, that’s a huge surprise to me. Why didn’t you just say so to start with, then I wouldn’t have to be all crazy and screaming at you for the past 15 minutes.”

We got the shopping done. Nora, of course, had to put all of her items from her cart onto the counter. That was challenging, especially when trying to lift the heavy milk over her head and the breakable eggs but I didn’t make the mistake of trying to help her twice. Everyone around me most likely was thinking she was being a cute “helper” but both her and I knew that she was not there to help me. What she was actually doing was attempting to assert her dominance over me via a gradual wearing-down process, one vegetable at a time. It’s possible that she was winning.

Then we went to the post office and I bought stamps and I was also handed 5 huge boxes with the idea that I would attempt to carry them out to my car. A nice person asked me if I needed help but I am part Swedish and part Norwegian and the other part is German so I basically have to do everything by myself. Huh. Sounds familiar somehow.

At that point, I realized that I didn’t have any way to carry my stamps. But then finally my dormant Love and Logic skills kicked in and I got a brilliant idea.

I thought to myself, “Hey! Nora loves helping (asserting her dominance). Maybe if she helps me carry these stamps out to the car, she will feel like she has some control over her life, and will then allow me to lift her into the car and buckle her into her seat without flailing about like a deranged lunatic maniac.”

Possibly, the thought that should have been going through my mind right then needed to be, “This is 40 dollars worth of stamps, should I hand my toddler with questionable motor skills 40 dollars and then take her outside…into the wind…while I am incapacitated carrying 5 large boxes?”

Well. That thought did not go through my head until it was entirely too late. And yes, we stepped outside and a huge gust of wind promptly ripped the stamps from my daughter’s tiny, useless hands and then she started shrieking and running towards the parking lot to chase them and I dropped all of the boxes and grabbed her and threw her into the truck with the boxes and locked the door and attempted to scour under cars, in ditches, in snow banks, for my lost 40 dollars aka stamps.

So, I’m not sure how to the end this other than, I guess, stop and think before you hand a toddler 40 dollars aka stamps and send her out into a wind storm. Or, maybe, don’t be stubborn and do accept other people’s help when they offer it.

Unless the other people happen to be two-year-olds. Their help sucks.


If this makes you happy, then you should be overjoyed to know that I’m on Facebook and Instagram and Twitter and even Pinterest!

 shopping (3)

19 thoughts on “Why Toddlers Are Terrible Helpers

  1. I was totally picturing handing these over to my 3 year old, who just lost her mittens at pre-school today and then told everyone she came into contact with ever that she indeed lost her mittens. But I just frightened myself a bit and thankful I bought stamps the other day while her father watched her! Seriously though thank you for making me smile tonight and for linking up!! 🙂

    1. joellewisler says:

      Thanks Janine! Yes. Kids and stamps, bad idea.

  2. Another awesome read:) I should probably admit here that I loved your original idea (the non-love and logic one) about letting Nora put only Mom-Sanctioned items in her cart and I had to read that twice to figure out why it wasn’t Love and Logic-y? I think I need to check some Love and Logic out of the library soon…

    1. joellewisler says:

      Basically, I think Love and Logic says that you should give them a “choice” that has consequences so that they get used to making their own choices instead of you just demanding that they stop doing something. Or some crap like that.

  3. Oh I feel your pain. Been there so many times. I do hope you managed to recover at least $20.00 worth of stamps. Better decisions are right around that next corner! May you enjoy your California trip immensely!

    1. joellewisler says:

      I actually did find the two bigger sheets of stamps! I forgot to put that in there. One was plastered against the side of car.

  4. Stephanie Sprenger says:

    Joelle, this post cracked me up from start to finish. I second that motion- two year olds are sucky assistants. I laughed at “My Shopping!” Yeah. Been there. Also, I too forget my Love and Logic so often. It’s so obvious, but somehow my own dysfunctional variation that is NOT helpful slips out of my mouth before I can stop it. Love the intention with the stamp-holding, and I was genuinely flabbergasted that it ended poorly- did not see that coming. No, seriously, I’m not being sarcastic. I can picture it, though! This was so fun to read- I loved the shopping dialogue so much!

    1. joellewisler says:

      Thanks Stephanie! Yes, I’m sure you are going through all the things that I am right now. They are so cute but so crazy!

  5. findingninee says:

    I loved this and can so relate! My son wants to “help” when it’s annoying and slows me down. Most of the time, when I clearly do need help (like now as there’s a gigantic cast on my left hand/arm, rendering it mostly useless), if I ask him to please hold something, he says no. This awesomely written post is such a perfect look at little kids, shopping, and the holidays.

  6. “Unless the other people happen to be two-year-olds. Their help sucks.” I am LOL at this! It’s so true!
    When I first found out I was having twins, everyone told me to let my then 2 year-old be my ” little helper” as it would make her feel important and special. It took me a long time to understand what “helper” really means when you are dealing with a 2 year old. Not really a helping helper…

  7. Best. Blog. Ever. As soon as you said you were giving her the stamps, I imagined her peeling and sticking them all over herself, cars, and whatever else she could find. Then when you locked her in the car, I had memories of doing that myself, and cherishing every brief second of silence while walking ALL the way around the car before getting into the driver’s seat into the cloud of screaming.

  8. “My shopping!!” My god, I love 2 year-olds. No, I really do! Look, I’M BEING SERIOUS. Why doesn’t anyone ever believe me when I say that?

  9. lrconsiderer says:

    Oh bless her heart! She tried though, right? 🙂

  10. Sarah says:

    Wow, did this post ring true to me! The challenge of errand-running with children. I have definitely made similar wise and poor choices, but I think you should be congratulated for honoring your child’s independence so respectfully. Did you find your stamps?

  11. Dana says:

    This was awesome, Joelle. Don’t you hate when the traits that drive you nuts about your kid are the same ones you have? It’s like karma sticking out her tongue at you.

  12. Ah, our little “helpers.” How can they learn if we don’t let them? How will we stay sane if we do?

  13. Jean says:

    I loved the story and I loved how you wrote it. And helping/asserting dominance. Yes. Exactly. I have one who is two years recovered from two and my youngest is a few months out from two. I remember, I anticipate.

  14. canigetanotherbottleofwhine says:

    ahahaha! This was awesome. I loved this story – very funny. I wrote about our experience at the post office before Xmas two years ago. Totally embarrassing situation. I might re-post it next week for fun. 🙂

  15. I love when my daughter helps me dust: An entire packet of Windex Wipes on ONE table that I have to re-do when she’s not looking. They mean well… 😉

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