The Analytics of Sympathy — A Training Guide for All Persons of the Child-ish Persuasion

Tonight as I was giving Laylee and Magoo their bath, life was a dream and a song. Everyone was happy and splashy and damp. Magoo was pouring water over Laylee’s head. She loved it and then suddenly she so didn’t love it. She hated it. Water was evil. Water must be stopped. The only way she could think to stop it was with the piteous siren of screaming death.

Do you wanna know how much sympathy I have for the piteous siren of screaming death? Did you say “zip-o,” “zilch,” or “nada?” Then you win a cookie! Come and get it. Wait. It’s gone. But I still like you.

She was absolutely baffled that I didn’t rush to her aid or even dab the water away from her eyes with a tender “Oh baby!” It’s all about the frenzinated decibility of the wail, well past my tolerance threshold.

So, for the benefit of my kids and all persons of the child-ish persuasion everywhere, I have created a scientific analysis of parental sympathy based on measurements taken on site at my home in the Seattle area.


As you can see, from this highly accurate line graph, as the frenzied volume of the crying increases, the level of parental sympathy decreases. Often the sympathy is replaced by annoyance but occasionally the parent is simply incapacitated by the sheer volume of the screaming and is unable to function, shutting off all nurturing ability. However, my studies have found that adrenaline-based parental sympathy kicks in when a certain level of ear-shattering other-worldly screechitude is achieved, a level which signals an actual dismemberment or other life-threatening injury. This is shown by the sharp rise at the end of the curve.


This sympathetic-destructional graph illustrates how a parent’s kindly reaction diminishes in direct proportion to the amount of property currently being destroyed by the little banshee. If you’re screeching like a psychobot whilst spewing grape juice all over my white carpet and chopping my computer to bits with Ginsu knives, I may be less tempted to comfort you and more tempted to trade you to the Girl Scouts for some cookies.


Carnage is key. If you can show physical evidence of an injury attached to your screaming, regardless of the decibility or destruction, you will receive sympathy. Even small head wounds are good for this. They can be quite minor and still produce an impressive amount of blood. If you’re hemorrhaging, your parents will likely snuggle you… tightly… to stop the bleeding… and for love.

So kids, for maximum sympathy, keep the crying to a soft whimper, the property destruction to a minimum and the carnage on high.

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29 Responses to The Analytics of Sympathy — A Training Guide for All Persons of the Child-ish Persuasion

  1. Jenny says:

    HILARIOUS. I love it.

  2. Love it! Classic DYM post!

  3. Jessica says:

    I am very impressed with your scientific approach and analytical abilities. Your findings are similar to mine, except for the analysis of how motherly rage is influenced in such situations. Or maybe thats just me…..
    Great post.

  4. Sarah says:

    The analysis is right on. Screaming makes me want to poke my eyeballs out, unless, of course, there is blood.

  5. Lundie says:

    Not only is your data dead on, but you will always win me over with a beautifully created chart!

    Thanks for brightening my day!

  6. Paige says:

    Thank you for that informative and extremely well illustrated lesson! I’m sure it will come in handy in dealing with my 3 year old.

  7. Farm Wife says:

    Have you been peeking in my windows again? I have found that this works in the opposite with Husband though. The louder the banshee wails, the more comforting and concerned he becomes. Is he abnormal?

    Once upon a time my uncle told us if there was no blood, there was no need for tears. This caused serious problems when my sister scraped her knee in kindergarten and it produced an entire drop of blood. This sent her into total melt down and baffled the teacher…carnage (be it minor) + noise level= total confusion.

  8. What a great homeschool science lesson for my kids! They are going to lo-ooooove it! 🙂

    Not, really. But I like it. A-Lot.

    Love, Michelle

  9. Shalee says:

    I only wish I had the charts when my kids were little. It might have helped them learn the lesson a little quicker. Silly me. I just told them that I didn’t see any blood, so would they turn it down a few notches – or else I said something along these lines: “If you don’t want your brother to bite you, then you shouldn’t take that toy.” Charts would have been SOOO much more useful.

    Now THIS is a classic post. Even though you ate my cookie before I had a chance to even call for a flight to come and get it…

  10. Kimberly says:

    Okay, right there? Funniest post ever.

    And I do mean ever.

  11. MamaToo says:

    this is the best, most accurate description of parental response EVER. Hilarious. I’ve linked you – hope that’s okay – you said it better (and with visuals!) than I ever could.

  12. Now this is what I’ve been looking for. A true scientific analysis of parenting. Hee hee hee. 🙂

  13. Katherine says:

    I was dubbed the “chart Queen” by my fellow teachers at my old school, so you’re really speaking my language! 🙂 Now, if you could just help me figure out a way to teach my 16 month old how to read charts . . .

  14. Heffalump says:

    You can take pride in knowing (and I am not making this up) that my 10 year old son nearly wet his pants when I had him read this post. He was laughing that hard.

  15. Traci says:

    This post is PERFECT. Now I feel like I have scientific support for purchasing one of these, and some earplugs, for the times when carnage is not present but the screaming and destruction is reaching levels that supercede both parental sympathy and ability to be sane.

  16. Cheryl says:

    Amen!! I knew there was a reason I was a crazy mom when the noise level went up…

    Now, what about my noise level? Do they feel less sympathy when I’m yellin’ like a banshee? Yeah. Probably…

  17. Sketchy says:

    This information should be handed out to all children. We need a leaflet campaign. Although my husband accuses you of being a little engineerish with those graphs.

  18. glittersmama says:

    Man, I can NOT stand the screaming. Makes me want to throw them out the window. (disclaimer: I wouldn’t really do that.)

  19. Azucar says:

    Brilliant. Finally, something my husband can understand.

  20. grammyelin says:

    It seems like I remember asking YOU to rate your pain on a scale of 1 to 10. 1 being, “uhoh” and 10 being “someone just cut my arm off with a chainsaw and is now hitting me over the head with it”. This method made for greater parental understanding of the banshee-esque wailing.

  21. jodijean says:

    thank you for the charts, very informative.

  22. edj says:

    The Girl Scouts will take your children in payment for cookies? No way.

  23. LOL great post! I don’t do the screeching either, it gets the opposite reaction than they are seeking.

  24. Pingback: We Love Baby! » Sleepover for Thursday, April 26

  25. Heather says:

    This is so very true! Now if I could just get my 3 year old to understand charts…

  26. EmLouisa says:

    Bwahahaha!!! I’m loving the charts.

  27. Joan says:

    I’m an absolute sucker for graphs of any type…essentially I’m blinded by science. But there’s no question: you are 100% RIGHT.

    (And thanks for the laugh.)

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