SUBURBS, U.S. -- A local mom describes herself as being "completely screwed" when her toddlers, aged three-and-a-half years and two years old, called her bluff that she would leave them at the park by themselves after they refused to willingly walk to the car with her.
"I even went so far as to get in the car and start it up," Up-The-Creek-Mom said, "I was sure that'd get them off the slide, but they didn't even bat an eyelash when they heard the engine rev."
The mom was forced to walk, disgraced and powerless, back to the park's playground equipment to retrieve her wards, before carrying them to said car. The trip was particularly humiliating given that a number of other parents had overheard her "threat" to leave without them.
Threatening to leave uncooperative kids by themselves at a mall, grocery store, park or other locale has long been a staple parenting tactic. This method is especially favored among parents who want to escape a public spot without making a scene. For many parents, carrying a kicking, screaming toddler from any venue is a last-resort option. Thus, over time, parents have developed many tools in their arsenal, including use of manipulation and half-truths.
However, experts warn parents to plan ahead for the day when kids realize the threat to leave them somewhere is an empty one. Some recommend keeping a stash of candy in one's purse to use as a means of luring the kids back to the car, while others recommend parents keep a pair of dark sunglasses on hand, so they can avoid making eye contact with others who have witnessed the failed tactic, or who might cast judgmental glances at the parent doing the walk of shame with one or more screaming toddlers.
"It is imperative that parents who rely on this method, develop a back-up plan to use. Parents are unlikely to realize that their kids have discerned there is no chance they'll actually be left somewhere. So, parents are likely to be flummoxed and feel helpless when this day comes," a more experienced mom said.