Tuesday’s Top 10: “I’m Hungry”

I was struggling to find a topic for Tuesday’s Top 10. Fortunately it was 9:12pm on Sunday night, and this one just sort of happened all around me. By the way, I’m really not a fan of parents who spend all day and night complaining about their kids, so please don’t misconstrue this as a list of grievances – I actually find most of these completely hilarious.

So here are the top 10 stalling tactics my children use:

1) “I’m hungry” – this is usually said with chin tilted forward, eyes looking up at you, as if they no longer have the strength to hold their head in an upright position and will certainly not make it through the night without one more bowl of Cheerios.  Or one last banana.  This is one of the hardest stalling tactics to thwart because what parent likes to think of their kids going to bed hungry?  But they realize this.  They have Navy SEAL type tactical skills in that 5 year old brain.  Don’t give in.

2) “I’m thirsty” – this one is difficult as well, because the amount of time it takes to fulfill the request is minimal.  But it’s the principle folks. One drink of water now will lead to a request for a 7-course meal at 10:30.  Which will inevitably lead to . . .

3) “I have to go to the bathroom” – a relatively straightforward request, the first of which is granted.  Each successive request becomes less and less believable . . . unless you’ve given into #2 already.  Which is another reason not to give into #2, because then you can’t be so sure about denying #3. The recently potty-trained child can make this tactic especially problematic.

4) “I’m scared” – once again, sometimes tough to deflect.  What if they’re really scared? What if the same shadow that scares the belittles out of you each night just went across their window? Probably not.  Chances are they saw you pause and will now press in, hoping tonight’s the night they get to sleep in bed with you, ruining any romantic bedroom plans you might have had with your wife and turning a decent night’s sleep into a long interior monologue regarding whether or not now is the time to migrate to the sofa.

5) “I’m not tired” – this is usually said while yawning or collapsing on the floor in a fit of sulkiness.  Or falling asleep standing up.

6) Singing – my daughter will sing to herself just to stay awake.  I’m not sure how this works.  If I would sing to myself in bed, at night, in the dark, I would either put myself to sleep out of sheer boredom or Maile would knock me out – either way, I wouldn’t be awake any more.

7) Poking themselves in the eye – my son Cade does this.  Yes, the one who referred to nipples as first knuckles then nupples. We can always tell he is nearly asleep because he keeps sticking his index finger in the corner of his eye and peeling back his eye lid.  Very strange.

8) Being good – this is when they go super-stealth.  You might even forget they’re still awake, because they’ve retired to one corner of the room, surrounded themselves with books and toys, and are prepared to make their last stand Ghandi-style: completely nonresistant.  You find yourself saying, “Oh, look at how nicely they are playing – what the heck, let them stay up for another half hour.” Before you know it, you’ve brushed your teeth, retired for the night, turned out the light, and suddenly realized you never put the kids to bed.

9) Making things up – this is sort of a last ditch effort.  “But dad, we NEVER get to stay up late.”  “But dad, you never read to us anymore.” “But dad, you’re just making me go to bed early because I’m being bad.”  None of which are true.  If they start with this one and somehow realize they’re making as much sense as Bryan Allain’s Cannarf rating system, they’ll usually retreat and go back to #1-#5.

10) “Ummmmm” – this is a new one for our family, introduced by Abra (pictured above), and I’ll admit: it’s got me stumped, mostly because I just don’t have the heart to simply walk out on her.  It goes something like this:

Me: Good night, Abra. (kiss)

Abra: Gaggy? (that’s how she says Daddy)

Me: Yes, honey?

Abra: Ummmmmm.

Me: Abra, what do you want sweet heart?

Abra: Ummmmmm.

Me (frustrated): Okay, good night Abra (I turn to walk out).

Abra: Gaggy!

Me: Yes?

Abra: Ummmmmm.

ad infinitum

So what’s your favorite kid’s stalling tactic?

25 Replies to “Tuesday’s Top 10: “I’m Hungry””

  1. both my kids have employed #10, to my great disdain.

    Actually, last year we were having a rough week of it with Kylie, and that was like Custer’s last stand. If she could just keep me at her bedroom door with Ummmms, then she still had the power. I warned her once, and then left to a fit of crying that made me desperately want to go back in and let her ummmm me to death. but i held my ground and we got through it.

    great list.

    1. Isn’t your son the one who feigns injury as well? That’s one of my favorites.

  2. I think every one of the 10 was tried at one time or another by my (now grown) kids. Inf act, I think I tried every one of those when I was a kid.

  3. My son Colin is 4. He is a creature of habit and dislikes change. When we first put him in his “Big Boy Bed” he went inot hysterics, because he wanted his crib back. I had to lay in his bed with him every night until he fell asleep.
    Well his new thing, is that he HATES his bed and he wants Daddy to take it apart. He then attempts to push the mattress off the bed rails. He gets about halfway, before we hear the noise and come running. Fortunately, the argument of “well, where will you sleep?” ususally stops him from any further Damage. but I’m hoping he ends this phase sooner than later. ;)

    1. This I don’t understand – a child’s aversion to switching to a bigger bed?! I wish someone would say, “Here, I’m taking your bed and replacing it with a 40 foot by 40 foot replica.”

  4. When Nicholas was 3 or 4 I remember one night when he had exhausted numbers 1-10 on the above list and I was sure I had finally won the battle for the night, I heard him calling my name. I first ignored it hoping he would just stop but he only got louder. I finally responded and he said he had to tell me something. I calmly walked to his room hoping that it would be a simple I love you. I opened his door and said what do you need to tell me. He said with a huge smile on his face “I like to move it, move it…I like to move it, move it.” (from the movie Madagascar) I lost it. I couldn’t stop laughing. He had gotten me.

  5. Thank you for giving me my first smile of the day. I recognize all of these midget tactics. There is at least three or four used a night in this house.

  6. Love it! You really did cover the universal child stalling tactics-I can dig it.

    We also get the bargaining pronouncements in our house. The bargaining stall.

    For instance:

    “If I get to stay up 1 hour late tonight, I will sleep in and never ask for anything else EVER again.”


    “If you let me finish this game (watch this show, play a bit longer/whatever), I will sleep in until 9am and not be grouchy at all.”

    1. Nice. Our kids are just getting into that stage of bargaining. Isn’t that one of the stages of grief as well? Hmmm…

  7. Well now that my kids are getting older, we get stone cold silence – like talking to a brick wall. They say nothing till we break and send them away. Very strategic and cunning.

    1. Wow. That sounds tough. I mean, when else are you going to get silence? Difficult to do anything that might shatter the silence.

    1. The combination tactic. Interesting. Trying to throw you off by claiming the “I’m hungry, I’m thirsty, I’m not tired” combo.

  8. Here’s another one: “________(insert older brother, younger brother or stuffed animal) is making noise and I can’t go to sleep.”

    1. Nice. The diversionary tactic. “Deal with them, not me (while I stay awake another half hour).” Complex.

  9. The Ghandi defense. Trying to get my boy into bed, he’d always agree to do anything I asked, but he wouldn’t move, either. And if I would carry him physically to bed, he’d wait 60 seconds and try to return to his previous location.

    Couldn’t get him up in the morning either. Whether he was asleep or awake, he fought change. Would you call that “sleep inertia.”

    Mind you, he came by it honest. His father was the same way. Still is, in fact.

  10. Wow. Thanks for the wake-up call. I actually thought that my boy (almost 13) was sincerely interested in telling me his inner most thoughts as a means to strengthen our mother/son bond right before bed time. Dang! Foiled again! His tactic? We go through the bedtime routine, straight through prayer and love-you-goodnights with no problems whatsoever. 10 minutes later, “Mom! Can you come in here? I need to ask you something.” He’s good. REAL good. These sessions rarely last less than 30 minutes.

    It amazes me how he is willing to divulge such intricate details of his pre-teen life just to stay awake longer.

    1. that’s okay, though – now you can be a double-agent, turn this time against him! bwa-ha-ha-ha!

  11. this one really got me the other night. I hear the floorboards creak and suddenly a shadow appears at my bedside. I’m beat….my eyes burn from tired.

    “Mom, I’m scared.”


    “Well, I was just thinking of Jesus and when he died and there was blood and that was so scary when he went into that hole!” Now, how the heck am I going to say “get over it & get back in your bed” to THAT?? Man, that was a good one!!!!!

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