What Have We Gotten Ourselves Into?

Good heavens above, protect and guide this poor mother.

I had propped the screen door open to get the stroller out, and then unthinking (having not had time for coffee) decided that the day was too warm for my jacket, and so I popped into my bedroom for a light sweater. Ten seconds later, I was back in the hallway… but my toddler was not.


No response from anywhere in the house.

Gasp. “Bonhomme!”

Strolling about at the very end of the driveway, humming happily to himself and kicking the bright orange leaves.

“Bonhomme! Come here right now! That’s Time-Out!”

Standing stock-still, his shocked face begins to scrunch.

“You NEVER go outside without Mommy or Daddy! That’s so dangerous! You scared Mommy!”


“March inside right now, and go to the Time-Out Corner! Both hands up on the wall!”

He stumbles inside and collapses in a heap in the entrance, shoulders shaking. I pick him up and carry him to the Time-Out Corner. “That makes Mommy so MAD!”

Hands on the wall, chest heaving, he is the picture of dejection.

“I wanna go to daycare! I wanna (sob) go to (hiccup) daycare!”

We’re already twenty minutes late.

The Time-Out Timer rings.

Bonhomme immediately stops crying, stands now docile in his corner, face covered in snot.

I blow his nose and kneel down, eye-to-eye.

“Why did you get a Time-Out, Love?”

“Cause I didn’t listen,” he says with a charming half-smile, head tilted just so.

“No Love, it wasn’t because you didn’t listen.” This time.

“Cause… I was outside?”

Clearly, we have some work to do.

“Cause you went outside BY YOURSELF – you didn’t even tell me you wanted to go out. And you were so close to the road! That really scared Mommy. You never go outside by yourself. That’s dangerous! Cars can hurt you! I didn’t know where you were, and I was worried. Do you understand?”

“I understand.” He is the perfect penitent, looking down at his shoes. Sneaking a glance up at me to see if he is free to go.

“So, what’s the rule, Love?”


“The rule. What’s the rule about going outside?”


“You never go outside without Mommy or Daddy.”

Bonhomme gives this some thought, shuffling his feet.

I get ready to get up and move on, thinking the point is more than hammered home, certainly for a two-year-old’s attention span.

“Momma, actually, it’s bout da road.”

I blink.

“Pardon me?”

“Momma, da rule should be bout da road. It should.”

He stands very straight, his head firmly nodding. He clearly feels perfectly justified in his logic.

Which, DAMMIT!, he is.

Dear Goddess of Patience and Misbehaving Offspring, help me in this hour of need.

“You’re right, Love, the rule should be about the road. Because you’ve been outside by yourself before, I know, but each time before, Mommy or Daddy were watching, even if you couldn’t see us, and we knew you were safe. This time, I didn’t know where you were, and you weren’t safe.”

“Cause I was too close to da road.”

“Yes, because you were too close to the road. And because Mommy didn’t know you were outside.”

“Cause you weren’t watching?”

“Yes, that’s right, I wasn’t watching you and making sure you were safe because I was in my bedroom getting a sweater, and I didn’t know you had gone outside by yourself.”

“Cause cars are dangerous and they can hurt me!”

“Yes, they really can. They can really REALLY hurt you.”

“OK, I will try VERY HARD to not go too close to the road.”

“Can you say you’re sorry, and give Mumma a hug?”

Off he goes, sorries and hugs dutifully given, bouncing and humming once again.

This time, he stops at the top of the stairs.

“Momma, can I go outside?”

“That’s lovely asking, Bonhomme! Yes, let’s go together.”

“Momma, I’m very happy!”

“I’m happy too! I’m so glad we had a good talk.”

“Yup! Momma, watch me!” Bonhomme jumps down each stair individually, swinging his arms for effect.

I’ve been bested by the logic of my 28-month-old – I can’t fault his perfectly articulated argument. But by all that’s holy, I’m not sure I’m prepared for a toddler who is quite so good at advocating for himself. I think I’m going to need my strength.


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