Gingerman: Instigator, Life Lesson Teacher

I have been composing a post in my head for a week or so now about how I wonder if my 6.5yo son is going to be a kind-hearted, respectful young man or a pushover who gets his ass kicked at the playground.

I usually don’t worry about Mr. T at all, because he is so good All The Time…and I’m so busy deflecting the crazy shizz his 4.5yo sister throws my way.

But then he stood out among his peers in his gentleness, his kindness.  And I started to think: Shouldn’t he kick someone’s ass at some point?  Shouldn’t he be the one getting into trouble…sometime?

I worry that he’s not gonna be tough enough for this really tough world.

He’s so sweet, such a fair kid, good listener, easy-going guy.  Especially compared to his tough-as-nails little sister.

As hard as Miss A is on my sanity, whoever tries to eff with her in Life will pay for it. Dearly. This is something I find reassuring.

I never got pen to paper about my worries, because I haven’t been able to articulate it yet.

Then this morning happened.

It all started with a innocently silly request by the boy:

“Mom? I want a cookie for breakfast!”

The Delicious, Sugary Temptation

He went so far as to help himself to a cookie, which made me laugh but I told him to put it back and if he was a Good Listener, “maybe” (<– this means yes) I’d put it in his lunch bag for snack at school.

Then things spiraled quickly out of control. Laughing turned to sneaking, to Not Listening, to out-and-out Disobeying, to stomping feet, talking back, being rude and so on.


I doled out warnings, which he knows I follow through on.  He ignored them. Then cried when I did so.

He slipped a note next to my coffee cup:

Apparently, since he has yet to eat one of my Gingerman Cookies in the month of February, this qualifies it as Breakfast Food.

I thanked him for the communication, but still told him “No.”*

*And told my husband not to read the note, because he is a sucker for this kinda thing.

I doled out ‘checks’ (marks for bad behavior).  He went to erase them.


The whole time, Miss A sweetly and happily acted responsible.  Ate, cleaned up, got dressed, brushed teeth without a single reminder, and decided to quietly color at the table while her brother went all Bad-Ass on me.


I told them what I needed them to do while I went upstairs to finish getting ready so we can leave for school on time.  “Cookies” were not to be mentioned at all the rest of the morning. Not the word, or a description or anything suggestive of anything else cookie-like.  Issue? Over.

My bathroom is above the kitchen. I heard what sounded like WWIII, mostly from Mr. T, so I shouted down the heating vent that they had better STOP IT.

I heard footsteps.  A note slipped beneath my bathroom door.

How a 4.5yo Little Girl Kisses Mommy's Ass

I finished and headed downstairs.

I thanked her for the note. She apologized to me while getting her coat on, as I had asked her to.

Mr. T was up to something else, completely: Trying to convince me with yet another note what acceptable breakfast foods were:

Many of you will agree with "bacon" and "toast"...but the last item is debatable. At least, for kids it is.

I said it was a good list, except for the last item “…which you will not eat today because you won’t drop the topic like I told you to many times already.”

(insert tears and stomping…his, not mine – shockingly)

My blood pressure was pulsing, he was so out of character I felt like he had been possessed, and Miss A was being so good it was confusing me (she’s always up for jumping into a fight or egging on her brother so he gets in more trouble).

This morning? Altogether baffling.

I pulled him aside alone for a minute after he finally finished his Godforsaken toast and put his coat on to tell explain to him an important Life Lesson, and unwritten House Rule #40:

(In not quite those words)

This is something I have gone over with his sister a thousand times.

She knows this and pays the price then suffers then earns her privileges back.  It is a daily occurrence with her.

Who, by the way, spent the rest of the morning being a doll, and after school has been a pure delight.  Even making me fresh orange juice.  Not a tantrum or tear All Day Long.

One of these things is always sweet. The other is surprisingly so today.

This super-sweet day with her has been wonderful. She and I are always butting heads, so it was refreshing to have her acting so…like her brother usually does.

Which opened my eyes a little.

While this morning’s events with Mr. T were tough and frustrating, and I hate punishing my boy…I’m almost glad he was such as asshole….like his sister can often be.

Because he’s got it in him.

He was rude, feisty, determined. He tried to work me with notes, rationalizations, pleads, a big Bag Of Tricks.

Mind you, nothing worked and his ass ain’t getting a cookie til he spends a solid 24 hours not being a jerk about a friggin’ 2-bite Gingerman….

…but I almost feel a little better about my earlier worries about him being Too Sweet.

He might have just enough Bad-Asss in him to make it through Life unscathed, after all.

I think I owe that tempting little Gingerman a high-five for showing me all this today, all that my kids have hiding inside them.

And then?  I’m totally eating him: I deserve it after this Head Trip of a day.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

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  1. Terri Snyder says


    It always cracks me up that I see my son (the eldest) as the easygoing one and I do have the same worries cuz his little sister is The Big B****. She will pummel on my son and beat the snot out of him with fists, and yet her TEACHERS all say “oh, geez, we never see that! She’s one of the kindest children in class! Always so sweet to her friends and helpful as anything!” But my son has his moments, and I got the call from school one day that he totally stepped into a fight and laid out the bigger kid because his friend was being physically messed with. So… yeah. I feel ya :)

    • Let Me Start By Saying says

      I wish my kids were on secret cameras all day so I can really see what they’re like when I’m not around…I’m guessing their secrets come out behind my back a bit more. 😉

  2. says

    I was waiting to find out that the whole time you were after him about not having a cookie, she secretly had a stash that she was torturing him with. ‘Cause that’s how my siblings and I played this game. You might want to count your cookies and make sure that the girl isn’t playing you…just sayin’.
    Heather Bush recently posted..It’s a Trap!My Profile

    • Let Me Start By Saying says

      Lol! They were well out of her reach. She was actually being an angel all morning. Shocking. Truly.

  3. Liz says

    I call this behavior ” angel/devil” , it’s the kid equivalent of good cop/ bad cop. Sometimes we all need to be a little bad, don’t we? Good for Mr. T!

  4. says

    the youngest girl, The Goose, age 7, is the sweetest, most loving, most affectionate and the most stubborn. The 8 yr old, Bug, is loud and obnoxious but doesn’t have a manipulative bone in her body. If you don’t think Goose doesn;t use Bug’s muscle and Bug doesn’t use Goose’s manipulation, you’re nuts. They’re a dynamic duo.

    Don’t get me started with the 16 year old…good lord, with her.
    Lance recently posted..See A Little LightMy Profile

    • Let Me Start By Saying says

      Love this – together my kids are also the Dynamic Duo.
      Wonder Twins, Activate! Form of: One Tolerably-behaved child.

  5. says

    I am a little sister. I remember with vivid clarity the excitement of my older siblings being bad. This meant that I had a chance to finally show my mom that I was actually her #1 best kid. My sister threw a tantrum? I cleared the table. My brother slammed doors? I put my toys away and drew a picture of my mom and me inside rainbows and hearts. At last! I had defeated the older children! At last! My mother would see them for the terrible people they were and would recognize me as the child to rule them all!
    Allison @ Motherhood, WTF? recently posted..My Stress, Their FunMy Profile

    • Let Me Start By Saying says

      I can so see this in Miss A. If he ever gets in trouble, she’s all up in there as if she knew better a llllll along….and wasn’t instigating things form the start.
      Though, shockingly today, she wasn’t instigating anything and didn’t get involved at all. I am befuddled.

    • Let Me Start By Saying says

      They switched personalities and it made my brain hurt…but hopefully it means he’ll be okay. Even if I’m loco by the time he proves it to me. Oy.

    • Let Me Start By Saying says

      Every day I do that thing where I turn my back on them one them and mouth the word “FUUUUUUUuuHHHHHHhhK!” with eyes squeezed shut and fists balled. Then I take a breath, and move on. Ah, coping mechanisms.

  6. says

    My younger son is (was) like your son, easy going, laid back, happy and eager to please. I didn’t worry about him being trampled, because you just couldn’t. Kids couldn’t tease him because he just DIDN’T CARE. He would come back with some funny good-natured reply and take all their power away. I’d never seen anything like it.

    Then, one day, while I was subbing at his school, his first grade teacher saw me and frantically motioned me over to his classroom. “You have to see this!” she exclaimed.
    She went to her desk and returned with his spelling paper. His assignment was to write sentences using each of his ten spelling words. This was his sentence for “walk”:

    I warn you, if you walk there, I will kick your ass.

    Apparently he had some fight in him after all.
    Handflapper recently posted..Wanted: Hardy menstruating prostitutes for Bigfoot expeditionMy Profile

    • Let Me Start By Saying says

      That is the best sentence I think I ever read. PLEASE tell me that was framed and hung prominently in the home.

    • Let Me Start By Saying says

      I put so much love in this kid’s lunchbox, it’s shocking he doesn’t topple over from invisible kisses as he eats his mini cookies & SpongeBob-shaped mini grahams. I can’t believe we had to go cookie-free for 24 hours because of his behavior…it’s killing me.

      The notes come fast & furious around here. I cannot wait to see what Anna comes up with. 😉

  7. Ninja Mom says

    Love it. Love. It. He’s gonna be just fine. Now go count the cookies. You’re sure that’s the same number as this morning? Okay, if you say so.

    • Let Me Start By Saying says

      I keep the cookies about 7 feet high in the house, so they are well protected (from everyone but me).

  8. krysti says

    Thank you for that. You seriously made me LOL. As a mom of 3, it always amazes me how when 1 or even 2 of my kids are seriously acting up, the 3rd decides it’s time to be captain kiss ass. Love it, glad I am not the only one :)

  9. says

    Wow, our kids are eerily similar. My 6 year old, Dude… so sweet, loving, caring. He’s the kind who draws pictures of Strawberry Shortcake for his 3 year old sister, little Diva, who thanks him for it by pulling his hair. That little girl drives me absolutely batty on a daily basis. But, I always say- these qualities she exhibits now may be frustrating for me as a mom, but will serve her really well later in life. Dude? He’s the one I worry about. Not a mean bone in his body. And, like Mr. T, he will have a moment here and there, but isn’t it funny how a son will try to get his way by writing notes about what he wants and a daughter will try to get her way by screaming bloody murder as if she’s being stabbed or committing acts of violence? Sugar and spice and everything nice, right? At least that’s how it is in my house! Glad Mr. T let you in on his inner bad-ass and that Miss A gave you a glimmer of hope!

    • Let Me Start By Saying says

      I think as much as yesterday tested my sanity, at least it made me think they were learning something from each other. Lord knows they don’t actually listen to ME.

  10. says

    Hahahaha… that’s certainly another way of looking at it! I worried about the same thing because my daughter was such a sweetie. There were times though, when b*tchy would be too nice a word. It’s rare, but when it happened, even blinking would induce a temper tantrum. Am I asking too much if I don’t mind her being b*tchy as long as it’s not to me? 😉
    Sweaty recently posted..Thoughtful Thursday Blog HopMy Profile

    • Let Me Start By Saying says

      Husband & I agreed last night: it was good to see him be such as asshole for once, but it would behoove him to not pull that shizz on me, of all people, again.

  11. says

    My acceptable breakfast foods are questionable at best. Popcorn for breakfast? Yes, please. Another reason I probably shouldn’t ever become a mommy. I love how just when you least expect it kids throw us for a loop. My sweet, mild-mannered, laid-back nephew recently began what we’re calling his “bad-ass” phase. I can’t say that I like him too much right now, but like you, I’m kind of glad the little guy has it in him.
    Katie @ Chicken Noodle Gravy recently posted..Exclamation Points AnonymousMy Profile

    • Let Me Start By Saying says

      OMG, on one hand I’m so glad the tough guy is in there, on the other hand STOP GIVING ME SHIT LITTLE BOY. Sigh.

  12. says

    This is hilarious! As I was reading it, I kept thinking, “This sounds like Freaky Friday, only with just the kids, not the kid and the parent.”

    Maybe your kids switched bodies for the day and you just didn’t know.

    You totally deserved the cookie!

  13. says

    Miss A was probably having a blast being the ‘good kid’ for once! Not that I expect her to continue in that role. My kids trade out obnoxious and syrupy roles. And I’m sorry to say I don’t have to worry about either of them getting their asses kicked. Their own feet are way too deft.
    Jessie Powell recently posted..Street SceneMy Profile

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