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Mom Irate After Husband Causes 3-Year-Old Son To Have Meltdown At Daycare Book Fair

Little boy sitting on a pile of books and reading a book.
FatCamera/Getty Images

Going shopping with your children can pose numerous challenges.

First and foremost probably being that children often see something on the shelves, be it a toy or a delicious, if not particularly healthy, food that they simply must have then and there.

Some parents give in, thinking there’s no problem with them getting it in the grand scheme of things, others stand their ground, believing that children need to know they can’t always get what they want.

Redditor draitzy initially told her two children they were each allowed one purchase on a recent outing.

However, when her older child changed his mind about what he wanted, the original poster (OP) didn’t see anything wrong in altering her initial rules.

Unfortunately, the OP’s husband thought otherwise, resulting in the special outing ending in tears.

Having trouble processing exactly what went down, the OP took to the subReddit “Am I The A**hole” (AITA), where she asked fellow Redditors:

“AITA? Husband ruins book buying.”

The OP explained how what should have been a joyful trip to a book fair turned into an unpleasant afternoon for all.

My husband and I have a 3 year-old (YO) and a 1 YO who both go to a daycare up the street.”

“The daycare hosts a book fair, and I told my husband when we picked them up today I want to buy them each a book of their choice.”

“He said fine.”

“The boys picked out their books, and while we were in line to pay, our 3 yo changed his mind and wanted a different book.”

“He ran into a little friend from his class who was also getting this book and I thought this is great, he wants to get the same book – how cute!”

“I said that’s ok I’ll buy the first choice for myself, and so we would have ended up buying 3 books.”

“My husband told my 3 yo he couldn’t buy his second choice, then told me I couldn’t buy it either.”

“I knew this was going to be a meltdown, and I didn’t want to argue in front of the cashier – embarrassing as it was.”

“I said ok and paid, and the cashier is looking at me like wtf is this guys problem?”

“My 3 yo burst into tears, and husband picked him up and carried him out.”

“I was pissed.”

“I wanted to have a good happy experience buying books and instead the memory is traumatic.”

“For me too.”

“My husband apologized, but he does this shit all the time.”


Fellow Redditors weighed in on where they believed the OP fell in this particular situation, by declaring:

  • NTA – Not The A**hole
  • YTA – You’re The A**hole
  • NAH – No A**holes Here
  • ESH – Everyone Sucks Here

The Reddit community was somewhat divided as to whether or not the OP was in no way the a**hole for wanting to buy her son one more book than was agreed.

Many agreed that the OP’s husband was way out of line for refusing to allow their son to get the extra book, finding his behavior worrisomely controlling.


“What happens if you buy it anyway? It’s not your job to make sure a grown man doesn’t have a meltdown if he doesn’t get his way.”- ZookeepergameOk1354


“That is weird…. and very manipulative.”

“His apology means nothing and, from now on, leave him at home before he has a chance to ruin all of your children’s childhood memories.”- Kukka63


“I agree with the cashier that is very weird.”- Ghostsintheafternoon

“If you have to make a decision between your toddler or husband having a meltdown, follow these three steps.”

“Have them take some big breaths to let out those big feelings.”

“Ask them to use their words to calmly explain their feelings.”

“Tell them to grow the f*ck up and go wait in the f*cking car while you buy your kids a book.”

“NTA.”- woogychuck

Others, however, felt that neither the OP nor her husband came out looking particularly good, feeling that neither of them communicated very well on protocol for the book fair.


“This seems like a failure of communication on both parts.”

“You had an original agreement of ‘each kid gets one book’.”

“You unilaterally decided to change that, and your husband unilaterally told you you weren’t allowed to.”

“Unilaterally making decisions without discussion isn’t cool on either of your parts.”

“A marriage can’t work without communication.”

“It sounds like you guys didn’t have a real conversation about this at all.”

“What were his concerns?”

“Was it favoritism by allowing one kid to get more books than the other?”

“Was it the financial cost?”

“Was it that you were going back on a boundary that you set with the child?”

“Why was it important to you to change your mind, and did you communicate that to him?”-mmmmmmmmmmmmm234

“You all agreed on one book per kid.”

“Depending on your income, the book is a small thing, but going back on what your parents decided without consulting each other isn’t a good idea.”

“It’s one thing if you are on your own with the kid, and you know it’s something the other parent wouldn’t care about.”

“But, he was right there!”

“In that moment you make eye contact and have that nonverbal conversation.”

“Or you discuss it while your kid is distracted by the friend.”

“You don’t just decide on your own.”

“This is where having a clear reason for your plan is important.”

“Why only one book?”

“Are you trying to keep it fair?”

“Is it a budgeting issue?”

“Do they already have a ton of books gathering dust?”

“If you’re all on the same page, it helps manage these spur-of-the-moment decisions.”

“If you both agree to go back on the one-book rule, give the kid a brief explanation within the context of how you arrived at the one-book rule.”

“’You can get two books, but you’re going to have to pick one at home to donate/use your allowance for the second/help Sibling pick a second/etc’.”

“You don’t want them thinking you’ll just cave if they bug you.”

“The other thing you’re doing is teaching them impulse control.”

“If you have no reason for changing the plan, they aren’t learning that decision-making process when they are faced with these things on their own.”

“They need to learn stick to their goal even when something flashy comes along, and how to reevaluate a situation to determine if it’s time to make a change.”

“If you decide to stick with the one book plan, remind them of why the rule is one book only, then help them make the choice between the books.”

“You might have to step out of line to deal with it.”

“My vote is ESH because you both handled it badly.”

“If he does this all the time y’all need to figure out which of you is causing that.”

“Is he too rigid or in a hurry or whatever?”

“Or are you always changing the plan and parenting decisions without getting input from him?”-Friendly_Shelter_625

“Esh but more you imo.”

“Teaching Kids that you don’t get everything you want is a valuable life lesson.”

“You agreed to one book each, which is reasonable.”

“Parenting from the point of trying to avoid meltdowns is a poor strategy.”

“You both suck for arguing in front of the cashier, but you started it with trying to undermine your husband and go back on buying the one book deal you made.”- Hopeful-Chipmunk6530

While some felt that neither the OP nor her husband were a**holes and that both of them were valid in their decisions.

I’m a Montessori preschool teacher.”

“One of the things we as teachers and us parents have to teach is self-regulation.”

“We cannot always get what we want all the time.”

“Children have to learn how to accept when things don’t go their way.”

“When the husband told the son that he could only get one book and that was the agreed.”

“Upon deal it should have been final.”

“Many parents often give into their child because they don’t want to deal with a meltdown, screaming and embarrassment.”

“In the long run that doesn’t help the child.”

“After a few meltdowns and screaming, the child will eventually learn that he can’t always have what he wants and to appreciate the things that he does get.”

“I don’t think anyone’s the a****** here.”

“I recommend reading the book ‘The Absorbent Mind’.”

“Good luck.”- Dare2no

It is important to tell a child they can’t always get what they want, especially if money is an issue.

At the same time, a child having too many books is not something a lot of parents would consider to be a problem.

In the end, it sounds like, with a little civil conversation and compromise, the OP and her husband could have both worked to avoid any potential meltdowns.

Something they might hopefully consider should this particular issue ever arise again.

Written by John Curtis

A novelist, picture book writer and native New Yorker, John is a graduate of Syracuse University and the children's media graduate program at Centennial College. When not staring at his computer monitor, you'll most likely find John sipping tea watching British comedies, or in the kitchen, taking a stab at the technical challenge on the most recent episode of 'The Great British Baking Show'.