My 2-year-old asked me to “Calm down”

The same energy that works for me professionally, does not quite do it for me, personally. I am not much of a laid back person. I’d like to think I am but I am really not. I just don’t work that way. I get annoyed easily. I lose my patience quicker than you can say patience. I have no age-appropriate inner serene space that people my age seem to have found.


I tend to get anxious when things don’t go as planned. I am not a naturally nervous person but when things need to go just right and they don’t, that’s when my stress levels hit the roof. For example, I pride myself on punctuality so if we are late to anywhere which is often these days with kids, I get extremely agitated and angry until we get to wherever we are going and then of course, I put my public game face on as if everything was always just fine.

In my late 30s, I am still learning to manage my emotions better. I am still learning to control my uncontrollable urge to throw things around when I can’t bend them to my will (e.g., when I can’t put the lid on a sippy cup with its many parts, when I can’t get the lid of another one open, when something I am cooking refuses to turn out the way it does online or in the recipe book, you get the point). In other words, I am sometimes, a toddler trapped in an adult’s body.

I never learned to completely regulate my emotions. Yes, I do fine in public and learned enough social skills to do well in life but it is in the private realm that my “true” self comes through. Some of those times are when I am with my family and I am challenged with disobedience from my son. Now I don’t expect him to be a servile little child who hangs on to every word I say and does exactly what I tell him to do.

I want to raise an independent thinker who stands up for his beliefs, one who is perfectly capable of holding a respectful and logical discussion when people don’t hold his views, and someone who is a masterful rhetorician with an enviable finesse to his eloquence and ability to debate. See…I don’t ask for a lot from my kid. 🙂

I don’t fall into that stereotype of a parent demanding absolute and unquestioned obedience from her or his kid although I do have times when I have said to Aaron, “He is a child. Don’t ask him. Tell him” or “He is a kid. Too many choices will confuse him. Give him two to pick from” (which I think is fine) or when Aaron asks TJ, “Are you ready to go to bed?” and I say, “Is it okay for him to say no? Asking him a Yes/No question is not an option here. He HAS to go to bed right now” (this is also fine, I think). Who made me the parenting expert that I seem to keep telling Aaron how to raise our son? Sheesh! Some of this definitely has to do with the different cultures in which we were raised, American-Canadian and Indian. 

The point is, having been raised in a different cultural context with parenting styles that did not always believe in giving children choices until they are much older and with good reason, I do not always default to presenting choices at will to a 2-year-old. I expect him to do as I say because obviously I know better (do I?). Period.

Which is why when we were eating lunch the other day and he kept crashing his toy fire engine into our plates of food and water (first of all, why did I even let him bring the toy to the table. That one was on me), I repeatedly warned him to stop doing that. In the midst of feeding both kids, I had little patience for his disobedience. He kept ramming the ladder of the fire engine into our plates and running it on the table, albeit gently, but now it was slowly becoming an ego thing with me. Finally, when he crashed it hard on something, that I can’t even recall now, I angrily said, “Stop doing that right now or I’ll take it away”.


He just looked at me with some food still in his mouth, fire engine still on the table, and quietly said, “Calm down”.

“What did you say?” I asked without emotion and not angrily, somewhat in shock over what he might have just said. Also, he can’t utter the ‘ka’ sound so the calm sounds more like talm.

“Calm down, mommy”

“Did you just ask me to calm down?”

By now he probably figured he had said something off limits for him to say even though he’s only just heard his dad say it to me like a million times since he was born. He looked at me with a cheeky smirk grin on his face, food all chewed and swallowed by now, fire engine still in hand, and this time said,

“Calm down, Suchi” in the exact same intonation as when Aaron says it.


I just stared at him, not knowing how to feel and almost smiling, almost proud of having heard him use these words in the absolute right context when less than 4 months ago, he couldn’t even say his name.

A few thoughts – First of all, if my TWO year old thinks I need to calm down, there must surely be something wrong with me and how I process emotion. In other words, I most definitely need to be calmer.

Second, did he really call me by my name? Does he even know that’s part of my name or does he just think that’s a word like any other word that only makes sense in the right context?

Third, I refuse to raise a kid who calls his parents by first name. I am Indian and proud and we DO NOT call our parents by their first names. Never. Heck, as kids, we don’t even call random people we’ve just met and been introduced to by their first names – everyone is always an uncle or aunty. He better call us some version of mom and dad till the day we die. Mom, Mommy, Mum, Mummy, Amma…I’ll take any of them.

The offending fire engine

I am not sure there is a grand point to this post. I just wanted to document the “Calm down” moment here. Perhaps it will be a turning point in my journey to better process emotions. Perhaps not. Never know.

As always, parenting is a journey of self-discovery or at least it is turning out to be, for me.

What has your child said to you lately that has made you stop and think?





A former Communication Studies professor turned a somewhat reluctant stay-at-home-mom (SAHM), I blog about my adventures raising two multiracial kids. I write about parenting and living a multicultural Indian-Canadian-American HinJew life with honesty, a few tears, lots of laughter, and gallons of coffee.
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Follow me: @thephdmama

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  1. I love it! I laughed at some … Just nostalgia! Enjoy the process … had many a moment like yours.

    1. Glad you could relive your memories. Fun times 🙂

  2. Ha Ha. My daughter’s constant refrain to me from the time she learned to talk has been “chill amma” ! So, I can relate.

    1. Kids are so perceptive. I always say that my son was born to teach me patience although given how I’ve turned out to be since he was born, he hasn’t done a good job of teaching it. Haha Haha.

  3. Doesn’t get any easier as they grow! My 17 still occasionally tells me to calm down!

    1. #BloggerClubUK

    2. Oh no! So there is no hope or there is, I just need to quicken the calming process. Haha. Thanks for visiting.

  4. mackenzieglanville says:

    This is a great post, I love how you want to raise him, I totally agree. It is so tricky when they get something so right, yet have no right to speak to us that way. I love how you included a pic of the offending fire engine too #familyfun

    1. I know, right! I love how he has started to use very grown up sounding words in the right contexts. His language skills are developing at such a great pace. Thanks for visiting.

  5. That is so clever that he has picked up not his and used it in the right context but not ‘nice’ for you! I think I would have laughed. It is scary when your own words or your husbands/mothers come back at you and just shows how our behaviour and language influences our kids. Thank you for linking up to #ablogginggoodtime ?

    1. Totally not nice 🙂 but now every time I think of it, it brings a little smile to my face, broader than it did that day. Have to be ever more careful what everyone around him says now. Thanks for visiting.

  6. I love this post – and although you say the point is just to document the ‘calm down’ moment (and what a great moment to remember!), you raise so many other interesting points – about what we expect from our kids, about getting to grips with our own emotions etc etc. Don’t worry my kids have occasionally decided to use my first name – they are just mimicking those around them and it doesn’t last!!! #ablogginggoodtime

    1. Ah expectations…they always give me grief. Can one ever be free of them? Good to know about the first names thing. I have seen so many movies where grown up kids sometimes call their parents by first names and even after all these years in the West, I am still appalled that, that happens. Thanks for visiting.

  7. My teenagers tell me to calm down all the time. My mood swings are legendary and I like you get more than irate when my husband gives my children choices even now about bedtime or what they want to eat even! Must be a male thing. #ablogginggoodtime

    1. So happy to read you write that and to know that I am not the only one. I don’t know how I would feel if my teenager told me to calm down but knowing that my moods aren’t thinking of going anywhere anytime soon, I know that’s going to happen. Heaven help!

  8. he he, I love how stunned you were by these little words! Bless him. It’s amazing how perceptive our littles are. Mine isn’t speaking much yet at 16 months but if I’m tired and sleepy on the sofa he does come and poke me in the face. Not sure it means the same but it’s pretty funny. Thanks for linking up to #familyfun

    1. Oh that poke sounds so cute. I bet you just grab Rob and smother him with kisses when he does that. I know I would do that if I was in a happy mood. If I wasn’t, I’d be like…stop it! Go play by yourself. Ha Ha.

  9. Ah I wouldn’t stand for being called by name either, it warms my heart to hear mummy coming from my children I couldn’t cope with Sarah. This is another fab post Suchi, I love it. Its made me think I always say to my daughter ‘do you want to go to bed’ well I am there giving her a choice and by default I guess she has every right to answer with no, I am of course inviting it. I think our kids our so intuitive and they pick up on so much (worryingly), my son is always mimicking his sister so I guess picking up on things his father has said is quite ‘normal’ – Oh dear I really have to start watching what I say! Thank you for sharing this at #familyfun

    1. Glad you agree. I always thought parents in the West are okay with kids calling them by first name after a certain age. Then I think about what their friends are going to call me. I guess they would call me Mrs. or Ms… if they have been raised that way. If not, then what? First name? Is it my ego or is it a respect thing? Cultural influences? Belief in an equality of everyone regardless of seniority/age? Hmm…

      I think giving choices is also a very Western thing. I appreciate them but just don’t think they are appropriate for all times.
      Thanks for your fab comments and compliment. Much appreciated, as always.

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