The reason I will NEVER buy my son a bike lock

HOLDEN: Mom, can I get a bike lock?

ME: Another time, buddy. Mommy’s just looking at bikes for herself today.

HOLDEN: But I need a bike lock.

ME: Holden, I might get you one but it’s not happening right now.

HOLDEN: But why not?

ME: Buddy, I haven’t really liked your attitude today. If you can start acting a little nicer, then I might get you a bike lock.

HOLDEN: Well, I’m not leaving until you get me one.

ME: That’s not how it works, Holden.

HOLDEN: I won’t leave.

ME: Ummm, then not only will you NOT be getting it today but if you keep talking to me like that, you will NEVER be getting it. Let’s go.


ME: We’re getting in the car. This is your last chance.


And he sat down. Right there in the middle of the store, he had his own little personal sit-in. And we had three choices. We could give in and get him the bike lock. We could drag him out of there kicking and screaming. Or we could just walk out.

ME: Bye.

And my husband, Zoey and I walked out the door and got in the car.

At which point Zoey started freaking out.

ZOEY: Mommm, we can’t leave Holden!!

ME: We’re not really leaving, sweetie.

And the three of us sat there watching the door to the store waiting to see Holden come out. We waited and waited and waited. Nothing.

HUBBY: What do you want to do?

ME: Drive.

ZOEY: Noooooo, we can’t leave him!!!

ME: We’re not, honey. Just drive forward so he thinks we’re leaving.

And my hubby pulled the car forward. And we watched the doors. Nope, nothing. So my hubby pulled the car forward more so Holden really wouldn’t be able to see us anymore.

And we waited. We waited so long I started to have bad thoughts. I pictured the employees in the store finding Holden sitting on the ground and asking him where his parents are, and him saying they left, and them calling the police.

ME: Honey, they’re gonna think we left him. 

HUBBY: No they won’t.

ME: You don’t know that. We’re gonna be THAT family on the news tonight. They’re going to call the police and DSS is gonna take him away. You have to go get him.

And just as my hubby was getting out of the car, guess what happened? The automatic doors to the store popped open. And there he was. Crying. 

And he stomped to the car and got in. We won!! Kinda sorta. 

Because he did not act nicer the rest of the day. We had another standoff about what shoes he would wear to baseball practice, a standoff about who broke Zoey’s LEGO set, and a standoff about books at bedtime. So as I was kissing him goodnight, this is what I said. 

ME: Hey Holden, can we try to make tomorrow a better day?

HOLDEN: If you get me a bike lock.

ME: Yeahhh, that’s not happening.

HOLDEN: What if I’m better tomorrow?

ME: Sorry, buddy, you’re not getting the bike lock. 

Because as far as I’m concerned there’s something he needs way more than a bike lock. A better attitude. Not just for an hour. Not just for a day. Not just for a few days. In fact, he might never get a bike lock with the way he acted. He’s worried about protecting his bike, but I’m worried about protecting something else. Him. He’s in a crappy phase right now, but the way I see it, how we respond is what makes it a phase and not something more permanent. 

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There are 21 comments for this article
  1. alessandra vaughn at 10:51 am

    i would love to have done what you guys did but the town i live in they would have called the police in a heart beat. my hubby and i would have made our kid walk to the car and they would have been grounded for a very long time with consiquences our child wouldnt like. my youngest is in the bad attitude phase and she’s about to loose her cat ears and tail that i made her. I have no problem taking them away for ever.

  2. Elizabeth Sweet at 11:17 am

    I’m totally in LOVE with this story!! My girl is nine and going through days just like these lately! I can identify, kudos to you for standing your ground mama, thanks for sharing <3 God Bless

  3. Jaimie at 11:33 am

    I had a similar experience with my daughter when she was around 5ish. She wanted a Disney Princess step stool for her bed. You know, the kind that the tops of the steps open so she could hide teeny, tiny little crap in there? Well, she put her hands on her hips and stomped her foot and said she wanted it NOW. She didn’t normally act like that, probably bc she knew through experience that s**t like that does not fly with me. I looked her right in the face and calmly told her that she will never have that step stool as long as she lives. Even when she’s old enough to buy it for herself, I will go into her house and take it away. I saw red that day. She did end up getting the step stool as a gift from one of my work friends a couple months later for her birthday, but I let it go because she had not acted like that again. But in that moment, had she sat down in the middle of the store, I would have left her a*s there too. Good job Mama. And I know it was one of the hardest things you ever had to do:)

    • Red at 9:21 am

      “Even when she’s old enough to buy it for herself, I will go into her house and take it away.” This made me laugh out loud. Great job mama.

    • Jamie at 10:02 am

      “Even when she’s old enough to buy it for herself, I will go into her house and take it away.” Bahahaha love this!

  4. PirateJenny at 12:12 pm

    Ahhh the battles of wills. My favorite part of being a parent! NOT! Good for you for not giving in. That s**t does not fly with me either, though my kids try often!

  5. C at 12:32 pm

    Ha! Good for you and Holden. Important lessons are learned the hard way. If you give in now you’ll be doing it forever. So many parents are afraid of getting their kids taken away they just appease the children. You teach them nothing other than they have the upper hand. 30 years ago you wouldn’t have gotten the lock, and instead you would have gotten an earful the whole ride home AND a swat on the heinie. So progress has been made. Hopefully he got the earful lol.

  6. Courtney at 1:32 pm

    I have a daughter who can be pretty defiant, but in a quiet way. She didn’t want to leave the playground one day when she was three. It was about a tenth of a mile from the parking lot (but in view). So I took her twin sister and baby brother and walked down to the car, leaving her pouting on the edge of the playground. Each time I looked behind me she’d edged a little closer to the car, but was definitely keeping her distance. L As soon as she saw us getting IN the car she kind of freaked out and came running towards us crying. We still have mini standoff’s like this to this day, but she doesn’t let us get that far away from her anymore.

  7. Jennifer Hoy at 4:40 pm

    Way to go Mom and Dad. This world needs more parents who are not willing to let their kids be little shits. I’ve done the same AND with the attitude at home there have been long nights of scooping cattle crap out of the barn!! This momma don’t play..I have 9 kids but their attitude will change before mine does!!

  8. Shannon at 7:49 pm

    Is it an age thing because I swear to God my kiddo, nearly 6, is seeing how long it takes me to drop her off at the nearest homeless encampment for a dose of reality. Everything is I want, I need, give me give me….. GIVE ME BACK MY NON MATERIALISTIC KID

    • Cathy at 12:51 am

      It’s an age thing. Hold your ground! The less fuss made telling the Give-Me monster ‘no!’ Or ‘not today’ the sooner it stops. Try not to let them engage you, especially in public, they will push every one of your buttons and stomp on your last nerve. Just walk away, or let them think you will!

    • tracy patton at 2:14 pm

      It is absolutely an age thing, and it also falls into the first comparisons made to what their friends have, or want, and get, and what they perceive as “mine isn’t good enough or theirs is better”. STAND YOUR GRAND! Do whatever it takes, stand tough, negotiate ONLY in the way of them having to earn it, earn the money, or wait for a gift giving opportunity and ONLY IF their attitude shifts. If you think 6 is tough, what what happens when they are indulged and turn 12! It’s the stuff horror movies are made from. This is simply the school aged version of a temper tantrum, and we all know the only way to kick those is NOT to give in. Stay Strong! You all ROCK! PS: Being called “the meanest mom in the world” is the ULTIMATE compliment! Thank them 🙂

    • Melissa at 5:22 pm

      My mom called that “Iwantitis” (“itis” pronounced like appendicitis)
      I want this… I want that… We’d be at the store, myself or one of my sister’s saying I want I want… Mom replying sounds like someone has a bad case of Iwantitis. I have just the thing to cure it too. We knew what she meant and never wanted the cure, so we shut up.
      Now that I have a daughter I find myself using the same phrase. LOL

  9. Tricia at 9:51 pm

    As a mom of two littles and a school psychologist, I am totally on board with your family response to Holden’s situation. I would have done the same thing. I especially love the last sentence of this piece and agree with it, whole heartedly!

  10. Dona Prusak at 12:06 am

    “… He’s in a crappy phase right now, but the way I see it, how we respond is what makes it a phase and not something more permanent. ” I love, love, love this statement of fact. Face the challenge of difficult parenting straight-on. These are the examples of why this is the toughest job an adult will ever have. You faced the raging power-struggle with solidarity and confidence. Behold, you rank as fearless warrior. Excellent parenting. State the facts. be consistent. Follow-through. If you parent them when they are young, your wars will be far less furious when they are 15!!!

  11. Cynthia Carr at 9:40 pm

    Oh, my gosh! You did right, mama. Think of your little boy growing into an adult man holding you hostage to extract money or something like that. Today I sat on the floor with a five year old who wouldn’t pick up the materials he’d flung all over the floor. We sat for a long time while I reminded him, “No recess until the stuff is picked up”. What a stand off! But, he eventually did the job. I was relieved and so was he! I hope he remembers what happened tomorrow. It helps to remember these little stinkers will someday be adults and we don’t want them growing up to be jerks, or worse!
    Thank you so very much.

  12. Helen at 1:24 pm

    You were right to stand your ground on the bike lock issue.

    We’re going through the same thing with my son. Only my son is fifteen years old and he has ADHD and attitude. My son is constantly late for high school. He comes home late. When he’s home he disobeys us. He’s constantly using the computers at school to play games on when he should only be using them for school work. And when he’s not at school, he goes to the library to use the computer.

    The issue is the use of his phone at school. We made the mistake of giving him a phone to use at school, but he had access to data and everything. We found out that he was using the phone in class instead of paying attention to the lessons. He was using his phone for upwards of two or three hours at school and it started to affect his grades.

    We took away his phone for five months. We returned his phone to him about a month ago, but this time all he can use the phone for is talking, texting or email.
    We took out any apps that would distract him and he has no data or even a browser on his phone. He’s constantly asking when he can have more features on his phone and our answer is when he acts more responsible.

    It’s not easy to deal with the demands that kids make.

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