Local View: From battles to snuggles: It's always the smart kids


I was sitting at the daycare table in the kitchen, sipping my morning coffee, when I first heard the ruckus on my front porch. I looked toward the door and could see through the glass one of my daycare moms struggling to keep her 2-year-old daughter, Piper, from wiggling off her hip. I could hear her 4-year-old, Wyett, yelling about something as he pounced at the door, then shoved it open. My work day of managing seven children under age 5 had begun.

I rose from my chair and asked, “Wyett, what’s going on?”

Wyett looked at me with a snarl and took his stand, his arms folded, his back against the stairway wall.

Mom said, “It was just fine until we got here.”

Wyett started pounding the back of his boot against the floor, demanding it to soar off his foot. He turned his anger toward his mother and said, “Stop talkin’ to me!”


Mom explained the problem while sliding Piper off her hip, “When I let him out of the car, he went racing toward the door, and he slipped and fell.”

“Oh,” I answered. I watched Piper scoot next to Wyett and deliberately plant her cheeky grin into his grumpy face.

“No, Piper!” Wyett roared, nearly knocking her down with his voice. Piper responded with a tearful cry.

Parenting is hard work, times two if you have two children. I did what I could and held out my arms to console Piper while Mom had a parental discussion with Wyett.

Wyett was beyond the point of return. While I listened to the negotiations, I tried to think of what I had in my arsenal that could help move the resolution process along. Like a ding-ding winner, I went to the daycare room and retrieved Wyett’s brand-new, extra-large, blue-striped, coveted blanket.

“Here,” I said to Mom, handing her the blanket. I turned my attention to Wyett, “If you don’t stop yelling at your mom, she is taking it back home.”

“I want my blankie!” Wyett redirected his glare toward me.

We had our winner.


“Nope,” I said with confidence. This was one of those teaching moments, and I was prepared for the consequences. “You apologize to your mom or she is taking it.”

There was no point in arguing further, so Mom left for work, Piper found her favorite puppy toys, and Wyett ran into the daycare room and found his hiding place behind the couch. I went to the kitchen to prepare the morning snack.

“Wyett,” I called into the room, “time for snack.”

“I’m. Not. Eating!” He screamed with a vengeance.

“Why not? You must be hungry.”

“You. Took. My. Blankie!”

“No,” I answered. “You were disrespectful to your mom, so you lost that privilege. You still have your old blanket here. You’ll have to use that one until you apologize to your mom.”

Wyett responded with a scream.


The morning continued much the same way. Every time Wyett accused me of taking his blanket, I responded with different versions of why he lost his special blanket privilege.

I tried closed-end questions: “Who was not being nice to their mom this morning?” “Was it your mom’s fault you fell down?”

I tried to answer the questions for him: “What could your mom have done differently? She wanted to help you feel better, but all you did was yell at her. That’s not OK.”

I tried giving him a directive: “It’s never OK to talk to your mom like that. You need to take responsibility for your actions.”

The only response I got from Wyett was that I took the blanket. And that both Mom and I were mean. My teaching moment turned into hours, and it took all I had not to sound like I was arguing with a 4-year-old.

It seems like it’s the smart kids who are always challenging their caregivers, because they are capable of thinking 10 steps ahead. And then there are those kids who see things as either a win or a loss. Apparently, I was a little like that, too.

It was time to wake the kids up from their naps, and I felt a sense of defeat. I did nothing to help Wyett. I only managed to waste our day making a point that would never be realized. I began to think about what I was going to say to his mother. I felt bad knowing I had let her down.

Wyett looked unhappy when he got up from his cot. I held out my arms, and he snuggled up against me on the couch. When I arranged his old blanket so it covered his toes, he stared at the TV screen and said, “You took my blankie.”


I sighed and barely whispered, “You know why. And you need to tell your mom you’re sorry.”

What I was thinking, but not saying out loud, was, I quit. I give up. I’m done.

I was surprised to hear Wyett let out a sigh. I guessed the fight was out of him, too. I don’t know what he was thinking, but what he said made the whole day worthwhile. “Well,” he said, “Awright.”

Doris Rauschenbach is a writer in Ashland and a regular contributor to the News Tribune Opinion page. Her website is She can be followed at and contacted at

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Doris Rauschenbach

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