You said what?!

241 days without yelling, 124 days of LOVING MORE to go

Dear Friendly’s,

You should print on your menus that all customers should be Friendly in order to eat at your restaurant. And perhaps a reminder that it is a family friendly restaurant, ie. that kids will be there. Oh and perhaps a note that sometimes kids make…noise.

Just a thought,
The Orange Rhino


Fact: My #3 has a tendency to yell and scream when frustrated. It is a known problem. We are working on it.

Fact: My #3 has made a lot of progress over the last year and a half. A lot of progress.

Fact: My #3 has worked hard – at speech therapy and occupational therapy to overcome his struggles.

Fact: My #3 is a love. Oh and a PERSON with areas of improvement. Like all of US.

Fact: I do not accept screaming in public.

Fact: I don’t yell and I don’t hit. I don’t believe in either. But I do still believe in discipline. And I believe with practice I can do so without said yelling and without hitting.

Fact: I work hard to love my children, to help my children, and to accept them despite their challenges.

Fact: I love my #3 fiercely. We have been reproached several times when he has one of his fits. I used to take it personally. I used to be angry at him. I used to be embarrassed by him. I used to allow others who yelled and criticized me to make me feel smaller.

FACT: I AM DONE feeling ashamed of how hard I am working to help my child with his struggles. I am done making excuses for the challenges he faces. I am done taking it all personally. Because I know my son and I are working our as*es off to improve. I am working harder every time to stay calm and to help him (which is what he needs…he does NOT need to be hit or yelled at, he needs me to teach him and help him. He needs me to try and understand him, what he is trying to say and what he can’t say).  And my son is working hard as h*ll to find his words, to calm down, to act more “appropriately.” We as a team our trying really bl**dy hard and I am proud of us.

Today I proved to myself that I am changing, that we are changing and dam*it I feel proud. I am tooting my Rhino Horn loudly tonight.

While at Friendly’s tonight for #1’s birthday #3 screamed. I promptly picked him up and brought him to the door for a break. We returned. His shirt got wet. He screamed again. I frantically dried his shirt and worked hard to soothe him while my baby started fussing because he didn’t have a crayon? Gosh knows why he was fussing. I was trying HARD hard hard to soothe everyone, to gain control of my bunch of wonderful boys all excited to be celebrating a birthday. I was sweating BULLETS. Bullets because I knew eyes were watching me.

Would I succeed? Would I settle my brood? Oh the eyes for judging me for sure. So I sweat even more.

Then #3 let out one more scream because his napkin wrinkled the wrong way.

And that is when sh*t hit the fan.

Turns out one of those judging sets of eyes had a voice too. The older voice spoke:

“Why don’t you bring him over here, I’ll hit him for you and then take care of him. I’ll make him shut up.”

(I’m sorry. What? What did you dare just utter to me??? Did you just volunteer to hit my kid? What makes you think I wanted to do that in the first place?! I was absolutely AMAZED at her ridiculousness.)

Without blinking an eye, without sweating even more, without JUMPING across the table over to her’s and throttling her, I ever so sweetly and politely replied:

“Oh, please don’t talk to my son that way. It isn’t nice and it isn’t funny. He is a child. Both he and I are trying our hardest.”

Then I took a drink of water, resisted all urge to throw it in her face, and turned back to my son wicked proud of myself for standing up for my son, for us.

“I love you #3. I know you are upset. It’s okay. Do you need a hug?”

“Yes mommy. I love you.”

This time sweat didn’t drip down my face. Tears did. Lots of them. And for a change they weren’t tears of defeat, tears of embarrassment, tears of fear, tears of frustration. They were tears of sheer joy.



The first time in 3 years my son has ever been able to speak those words without prompt.

I LOVE YOU. I’ll say it again and again and again.

I can only imagine if I had lost it with him, or her. Pretty sure I wouldn’t have heard those words. Tonight or for gosh knows how long. And let me tell you. It was outright AMAZING.


I know I have said it before. I know it is probably annoying and boring and all that jazz to be said again BUT…. I continue to be blown away by how this Orange Rhino Challenge, how learning to not yell, is benefiting my family and I in more ways than one. A year and half ago (read here)I never would have stood up for myself so eloquently. NEVER. But I have learned I CAN control myself and in doing so, I am way more powerful. How do I know?

The lady of the night? Well she didn’t make another peep the entire meal. Oh, and for the record, neither did my son. He rocked the rest of the meal which for a 3 year old with some challenges is pretty fantastic. 

P.S. If you are thinking of commenting, please remember this is a supporting, loving community. I am not intending to engage in the debate of is hitting kids right or wrong. Instead, I want to focus on how The Orange Rhino Challenge has many a benefits. That and that my son FINALLY said I LOVE YOU!!!

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46 thoughts on “You said what?!

  1. Thanks for sharing this awesome post. I am so happy for you and your family. I have tears of joy in my eyes. Your story gives me hope and focus.

    • Thanks Liz for reading and the kind words. I am glad it gave you hope and focus. If you ever have any questions, I am here to give hope 🙂 Ask away!

  2. I am SO HAPPY for you! Very proud of your control and presence of mind, too. Thank you for motivating all of us each day and for sharing this story. What a wonderful thing you did for #3 – setting an example by not letting your emotions get the best of you and also showing him unconditional love in the hardest of circumstances. WAY TO GO, ORANGE RHINO!!!!

    • Thank you Amanda and thanks for reading!If there is one thing I am really gaining a new understanding of it is through this challenge it is unconditional love. It works wonders and really helps keep me focused. I hope you have a great day with your family tomorrow!

  3. Thank you for sharing this. I was totally sweating bullets with you, thinking of how I’d be reacting if I’d been there. What a sweet, sweet ending! I enjoy reading how your challenge is rippling out in others’ lives, too. I think of your FB photo every time I backstep or when I am able to keep my cool with my own two little ones.

    • Thanks for reading Katie – yes the challenge ripples everywhere. Letting go of so much negativity from yelling freed up a lot of space for better things! Good luck with your two today!

  4. I just want to let you know…YOU inspire me! I too have a very wonderful son who has his own set of issues that we are working through. There are so many times that I feel completely alone in this parenthood thing (I have 5 kids ages 13, 8, 20mo, and 4mo old twins and a husband who works out of town and is only home on the weekends). Needless to say I am overwhelmed by life most days lol. My 8 yr old has ADHD and anxiety issues and right now we are trying to figure out some medication problems. He seems out of control most of the time and I find myself yelling. A lot. I think of you when I am in the throws and it reminds me that I too can use my words in a non-harmful way that just may help my son use his own. So I want to thank you. I don’t know you and I know we will never meet face to face but I just want to say thank you. Thank you for helping me through situations that would otherwise just end with hurting instead of growing.

    • Jamie thanks for reading and for your kind words. I can imagine how long and hard your days are – my husband is mostly gone Monday – Friday and my eldest also has some anxiety issues. IT IS HARD just about every day, isn’t it?! You thank me but I thank you – by reading it helps me stay focused and forces me to keep growing/learning. If there is ever anything I can write about to further help, let me know. And who knows, maybe someday we will meet! Good luck today with your househould all I can say is WOW 20 mo old and 4 mo twins + two more?! You’re inspiring!!!

  5. Hooray for you. I probably would have offered back to hit that lady and have my husband “take care of her” to make her shut up….you are an awesome mom. I have a 6 year old working on his meltdowns…much improvement over the last year also. But I am an “old” mom…so other people don’t bother me as much as when I was younger.

    • Thanks! Glad to hear your 6yr old has shown improvement too the last year – no doubt in part due to you! Keep up the good work!

  6. Awesome job. I don’t know what I would have said in those circumstances. Probably I would have made a joke and laughed it off, then dwelled on it forever wishing I had said something and stood up for myself and my kid.

    You’re inspiring me!

    • Thanks Julie – for reading and the kind words! Yeah, I think I am still in shock that I actually spoke up for once and didn’t dwell on it. Gotta tell you – handling it like I did feels WAY better than the alternatives and added bonus no dwelling afterwards!

  7. This is awesome! Congrats on handling that obnoxious person’s comments so beautifully. I am often caught in similar situations with my four and Feeling other’s eyes on me is difficult. I will remember your words next time I am caught in a similar situation. I am so glad you stood up for yourself and your son without apologizing! Inspiring post!

    • Thank you for reading and the kind words! I’m sorry you’ve felt the eyes on you too, it’s hard isn’t it? 1.5 years ago I screamed at the same type of person. It was mortifying. About 6 monhts ago I responded a little more rudely and then felt only slightly less mortified. And this time, well it felt infinitely better!! Hope you have a good day.

  8. Awesome! I bet that put her in her place. I hope she realized how terrible she sounded. Especially from a woman, I’d expect a little more compassion. Good for you for handling it the way you did! I think I would’ve been been a little sassier in my response, without thinking first. You did awesome!

    • Thank you – sassier might have been more fun 🙂 as I love sarcasm but alas, this felt better. Thanks for reading and your kind words! Hope you have a great day!

  9. You had much more presence of mind and grace than I would have in that moment. Hopefully, that woman will think twice before offering inappropriate suggestions in the future.

  10. This made me cry. Tears are coming down my face right now, in fact. What a beautiful moment for you and #3. Keep up the great work.

  11. This whole orange rhino thing is really helping me. I’m learning a lot about myself. Day #3 and its rainy and gross and we had a couple of times where I almost went there, but I didn’t. Both of my children are already happier. I’m thrilled to not yell anymore. I have a long way to go but I’m grateful for the ability to have this challenge. Thank you for all that you have put out there. I am very grateful. Very. Have a great day.

  12. I love your blog. My little son (20 months) has a language delay due to hearing loss, sensory processing disorder and has just been diagnosed as on the autism spectrum. He loses his shit in public bit I persist in involving him in the community because I believe deeply that he is a PART of it. I don’t smack or yell. I am struggling with the disapproval from strangers. I haven’t got to a point yet where I have developed a thick skin. I just feel stressed and worried. Your writing is helping me get to where I want to be with my wonderful baby son.

  13. How wonderful! Go you 🙂 I too teared up reading this post! Thank you for your work and your words of encouragement. LOVE IT!

  14. I can’t say that I know what it is like to have children with a learning delay, however, my children are both very strong headed and stubborn. That being said I am not sure I could have stayed that calm if someone offered to discipline my children. I have seen parents use methods that I may not agree with or allow their children to do things that I would not allow mine to do, that being said I would never assume that I can raise another persons children better than they can. As parents I think we all try our best with the skills we have. Since I first came across this (thanks to a friend of mine) I have done my best to stop yelling as much as I used to. I must say that although I do not go days without yelling (yet) I am getting better even when dealing with my husband. I think it takes a lot of courage and restraint not to get up and tear a stripe of the person who said this to you, I am not sure I would have the same restraint as I am very outspoken. So I must thank-you for sharing this post, I do not remove my children from the public just because they are having a bad day because we all have those. I just wish other people would learn to remember that we all have different methods and as long as you are not abusing your children they need to mind their own business. Thanks again for your stories, knowing that I am not alone in the ways I feel as truly helped me to start making a change in my life.

  15. Toot your orange rhino horn all you want! You deserve it. It is amazing how brazen people can be and kudos to you for keeping your temper. I can only imagine how hard that is when someone is harsh about your child. Good job!

  16. you are way stronger than i. my reply would have been, “or perhaps you should bring urself over here so i can kick the shit out of you!” thank u for ur inspiration…..this is very very hard for me. i am trying. my 4 year old i to say the least difficult, like her momma. my husband doesn’t help when he calls me out IN FRONT OF THE CHILDREN….talk about yelling at someone…..geeees.

  17. Thank you.
    I have been following you on Facebook, but haven’t fully committed to not yelling. I started trying, but lately it seems that my kids do not respond to me unless I get REALLY mad at them and scream. I have been searching for inspiration or something, anything, to convince myself that NOT yelling truly is better than yelling. I think I just found it by reading this post of yours. What an unbelievable feeling that must have been for you. Congratulations! And thank you for helping me to make a change for my babies!

  18. What an awesome challenge. Having not read previous posts i was sitting thinking – Gosh – describes my daughter, who is 5 1/2 to a tee! And well done on the control, i dont know if i could have been so polite to the person who made that comment to you. I very much admire (and agree) with your wanting to talk it out and not involve hitting or smacking.
    Well Done!

  19. How wonderful of you to stand up for your child in such a calm and matter-of-fact way. I seriously need to consider this “Orange Rhino” thing. My son drives me past my limits most days. He is 3 years old. Often, very whiney, especially if he doesn’t get his way. Follows directions about 50% of the time. I’ve tried not to be a “yeller” but have found that he often doesn’t respond unless I raise my voice. I can speak his name several times, but it’s not until I yell it, out of frustration, that he seems to hear and acknowledge me. I’ve also been entirely against spanking his entire life, up until recently. Only because, it seems nothing I discerns to register with him. I hate spanking him, but know no other way to reach him. The spankings are usually the result of him purposely hurting his 17 month old sister. I’ve watching him intentionally run over her hand with his bicycle, put his arms around her neck and pull, head butt her and many other things. I don’t know if this is normal 3 year old behavior or something I should be concerned about. He also, screams and yells over the tiniest things. Such as, spilling water on his shorts, having to leave somewhere he doesn’t want to. My husband says he is spoiled, but I really don’t feel like we have over indulged him to the point of being spoiled. I guess, I’m just in search of input….

  20. I really needed this read tonight! It’s really hard trying to do the right thing without fearing of others judgement. Sometimes I feel like I’m not doing enough to control my kids… But I’m doing what I can! As a newly single mom of 3 everyday is a struggle!!! I was at Target one night with my twins right after I filed for divorce. We were having hotdogs and my dad called and I really needed to talk to him. As all children do, mine acted up, blowing bubbles i their drinks, laughing… Basically just being kids!!! Well this woman instantly passed judgement and was glaring at me and my kids! Unfortunately my crazy momma bear came out and I cracked and told her off!!! Did I feel better, no, I felt worse!!! Long story short, thank you… Thank you for this support and reassurance that none of us are perfect, we can only love our children and do our best!

  21. I know how you felt with all those judging stares. I have a 3 year old too and my gosh he’s a handful. Thank you for sharing and I was really touched by your story. It is one thing to judge others with their kids but saying those words are just not right. Maybe she didn’t have kids, I don’t know. But only you have the right to discipline your own kids. She should’ve just kept her comment to herself.

    And lastly, my son is sweeter (hugs and kisses me more often), much calmer and kinder to me too if I don’t lose it with him 🙂 Thank you for the Orange Rhino!

  22. Way to go!!
    And I’m sorry I wasn’t there to witness it. I wouldn’t mind saying a word or two or ten to that woman. The Nerve of some people.

  23. Love this post. Love your reply. What you said was perfect, and I want to remember your honesty, bravery, and firm kindness so I can stand up for my children when I need to. I don’t get too embarrassed in public with my toddler when she’s having a rough moment, but I do feel pretty judged by my in-laws sometimes. (Actually, my father-in-law makes the joke that someone should “put that child out of his misery,” and my mother-in-law claims I’m “too sweet” with my daughter. Oh, in-laws! I really do love them, and they love our daughter too.) I firmly believe that yelling doesn’t help, and neither do spanking, shaming, or threatening, and I am trying to be more aware of my tone and habits (the 365 challenge was stressing me out, so I am just trying to be more aware for now). It is so true that it is deadlines, hunger, fatigue, sickness, etc. that make me want to yell, not my sweet, energetic 2 1/2 year-old daughter, and your blog has helped me to realize this. So, thank you. You’ve already made a big difference for our family.

  24. I have gone to bed so many nights crying because I didn’t handle things the way I’d like to. I just found your blog so I haven’t had the chance to read much yet…but I will! Sounds like your #3 has some of the same challenges as my son. He was recently diagnosed with Sensory Processing Disorder and there is no controlling his behavior at this point. (As I am just learning about SPD) there has been so much criticism and because I love my son so fiercely I often want to pummel the people who offer it. I am excited to have a place to read about experiences and lessons of others that will benefit myself and my son. I am bringing some other good friends on this journey with me and we are all so stoked!

  25. WOW! That is a fantastic post! I wish people would mind their own business. That just goes to show, you never, EVER judge what’s going on with anyone else’s kids. You don’t know what their situation is, if they do struggle with special needs, or if they are just having a bad day…..because all they really need is a HUG! I just learned another valuable lesson here…HUG MORE! Thank you!

  26. Well said to the lady. Sometimes it’s hard to think of the right things to say in the moment. Often lots of “I should have said…” comes later. But nice job.

  27. Wow. Just wow. I LOVE LOVE LOVE the ending of this story. What amazing words you heard. And for the first time?? Stop. Amazing.
    I do, on occasion, spank my children, but don’t judge others who choose not to, especially in public. My jaw LITERALLY DROPPED when I read what she said to you. That is absolutely disgusting, inappropriate, and reprehensible. I don’t think I could have reacted like you. I’m afraid I would have tackled her to the ground. Kudos and congratulations!!!

  28. Very powerful post…I’m so glad you were able to stand up for yourself and your family. I have no idea why some people think they can say the things that come out of their mouths to complete strangers.

  29. I love this! Even more than put her in her place, you showed her and your family a loving way to receive and deflect mean comments. What a gift to everyone who heard. You kept your wits, your authenticity and your compassion. So disarming, even your son felt the release.

    Meanwhile, I’m going back to reading your blog. I wish I could buy your book. (Hint.)

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