Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Statement Analysis of Maine Diner Mother

The author and her husband. Image courtesy of the author.

                                                 What a story! A "she said; she said" battle.  

Having been born and raised in New York, but living the last decade in Maine, I know that culturally, they are two very different places with  two very different expectations in public.  

I am also a parent of six children and two grandchildren.  I did not raise my voice in disciplining my children, as yelling at children (other than to be heard over noise), was not my way of child raising.  I found that lowering my voice was far more effective.  There is no excuse for yelling at the child and this analysis of the mother's statement does not justify the yelling.  

Two wrongs do not make a right, and the diner owner has admitted yelling at the child, so the wrong is acknowledged there.  But what of the mother's story?

Let's look at it to see:  Was she negligent?  Was she rude to the other patrons by not attending to her child?  What about the father?  Were these two so absorbed in conversation that they neglected the needs of one who is incapable of self care?

A diner owner could take no more and finally yelled at a toddler who, she claimed, had cried for 40 minutes straight and subsequently, the dinner owner  lambasted over social media with some saying that they would boycott her diner.

Who yells at a toddler?  versus Who lets their toddler cry for 40 minutes straight?

Diner:  The parents did not care about their toddler and let her cry for 40 minutes straight.  I yelled at the child to stop and she did.  The video of the Diner owner may suggest to some that yelling at a child is not a deviation from her norm.  This may have added to the atmosphere.  

An eyewitness claimed that the parents ordered pancakes for the toddler, but instead of consistently  feeding her, instead just kept talking at each other while the child screamed on and on.

Now, the mother is getting involved and has had her side of the story.

Question for analysis:  is the mother telling the truth?  Did she really let the child cry on and on for 40 minutes, as alleged?

Statement Analysis is in bold type with italics and underlining added for emphasis.

Form:  The statement is 643 words, including the title, "I'm the mom..."

A truthful account of an event is often found in the form of what Statement Analysis calls the 25/50/25 formula where

1.  25% of the words tells us the setting;
2. 50% of the words tells us what happened;
3.  25% of the words tells us what followed the event.

Decades of research has found that whether it is spoken or written, truthful people end up with a percentage close to this, and that when someone is deceptive, they often are 'out of balance' with a heavy weighed introduction.  When the majority of words are about "after' what happened, the conclusion is:  the story is not over, that is, the writer may have intentions beyond what has been written.

This account:

627 words after title, from "what happened"

1.  229 words introduction       36%
2.  124 words main event         20%
3.  274 words post encounter   44%

Principle:  Deviation from 25% 50% 25% is Unreliable.

I’m the mom whose encounter with an angry Maine diner owner went viral. Here’s what happened.

Making national news was the last thing we expected on our quiet summer getaway to Maine this week.

Where someone chooses to being their statement is always important; sometimes, it is even the reason for writing.  It is interesting to note that she began her statement with "making national news" and that she includes the word "quiet" in this opening sentence. 

Principle:  Opening sentence = importance and sometimes reveals motive. 

Please note that "this is what happened" is part of the title, and answers the question, "What happened?"  This is precisely where we look for a statement to begin:  following the question, "What happened?" to glean information. 

Here, it is very important to the writer that this story went national. 
This causes us, in analysis, to ask, "Why?  Why is it important to the writer that this story went national?"

We listen for her to guide us to an answer. 

One rainy morning, my husband, baby daughter and I went out for breakfast. We had stayed overnight in Portland, a place close to our hearts where my husband spent a lot of time in the Coast Guard. He suggested we grab breakfast at this diner he knew of. We figured it would have quick service and be family friendly.

She does not use her husband's name, nor the baby daughter's name, which is incomplete social introduction, but it may be that she did not want to since this is "national" news.  "My husband", although lacking even his first name, still has "my" in the possessive pronoun.  

Note to "grab" breakfast would be to move quickly. 

Note the pronouns:  "we had stayed..." and "we grab", but in choosing the diner, he suggested.  This is important enough for her to mention it to us, the audience.  This brings our attention to both of them, and how they relate to one another.  

She confirms "grab" with "quick service", which is now repeated.  

Principle:  Repetition indicates sensitivity. 

Why the need to tell us that she was looking for a fast meal, so much so that it is repeated as a theme with "grab" and "quick"?

Note that "family friendly" is an assumption that "we" made; not her.  
Question:  Has the writer eaten at restaurants that she would consider not "family friendly"?
I would also like to learn:  
Has the writer experienced trouble at other restaurants, as a mother? 
Remember the context of which she is writing this statement for national publication. 

Note that she wants the national audience to know he was in the Coast Guard.  

When we arrived, we were told there would be a 30-minute wait for a table. While not ideal, we knew that on a Saturday morning in a tourist town, there would likely be a wait everywhere.
We finally got a table and ordered food. I ordered pancakes for my daughter, which took about 40 minutes to arrive.

Follow the pronouns: 
"When we arrived"
"We were told"
"We knew"
"We finally got a table"
then, "I" ordered pancakes for my daughter. 

She does not say, "we ordered breakfast."  

Each person has their own internal dictionary.  It contains about 25,000 words on average.  When they relate "what happened", they must choose what words to use and what information to share.  No one can tell us everything that happened, so she must choose which to tell us and which to leave out; this speaks to priority. 

She leaves out what she had for breakfast. 
She leaves out what her husband had for breakfast. 
She broke off the string of "we" (pronouns) to bring forth the strong, "I", making it personal.  

Why the need to tell us what she ordered for her daughter?
If it is important, why does she not tell us what she ordered for herself, or for her husband?

It is important to her that her audience know that they, as parents, did not order, but she, herself, as mother, did, and not for herself, or her husband, but only her daughter. 
This is an assertion of herself as a mother. 

One might wonder if she has been accused of neglect as she has a need to assert her daughter's breakfast as her own choice, important enough to mention detail, while excluding her breakfast and her husband's breakfast. 
Did they eat at the diner?

She also used the number "40" in "40 minutes", as a delay. 

Question:  What is the delay she describes?

Answer:  It is a delay of her daughter's breakfast only; not the breakfast for others. We do not know if they ate breakfast even though "we" is used repeatedly about the place chosen to eat.  

One may question if the mother went to the restaurant with intention other than eating:  were these parents arguing, for instance, and wanted a place to sit to talk while the baby was occupied?
Why the need to tell us the 40 minute delay after the 30 minute wait? 
She specifically chose "40 minutes" as the delay time for her daughter's breakfast.  
It is also the length of time that the diner owner claimed the mother let her child cry through, without soothing or quieting her.  

Please note that "my daughter" is the expected from a biological parent.  It is the norm, so that we must follow it, expecting it to remain.  Should it change, there will be a change in reality.  

 At this point, my 21-month-old was getting antsy, as I imagine most would when they have to sit in one place and wait for a long time. 

Note that "my" continues, in relation to the child, but the child is now given a new 'title', that is, a "21-month old", to emphasize the exact age. 
Note "I imagine" is used instead of "as most would..." 
Does the writer need to "imagine" this?
Or, does she have friends with toddlers who act differently than her own?

Please note:  "when they have to sit in one place and wait for a long time" tells us that the parents made her sit in one place for a long time.  They did not take her for a walk around, nor hold her, rock hit, sit her on their laps, and so on. 
This is an important piece of information for readers as it comes from the mother, herself. 

She wasn’t having a meltdown, so we decided to stay in our corner booth rather than go outside in the rain. 

They based their decision on something that wasn't happening.  This is an indication of deception.  
They could have based their decision to stay put, on what did not happen:  this is innumerable.  "We decide to stay in our corner booth because she did not need a diaper change"
"We decided to stay in our corner booth because no one wasn't doing anything..."
This 'marking of time on what did not happen" was the deceptive norm for Billie Jean Dunn and her New Year's Eve party.  
I have asked people:  "Where were you when you did not win the lottery?"  They answer, "huh?

I then ask, "Where were you on 9/11?"

That is to say:  we do not mark time by what did not happen, but by what did happen. 

Here is where an issue arises regarding veracity.  Recall our "form" test showed "Unreliable"

1.  She "wasn't having a meltdown" is in the negative.  
Principle:  What one reports in the negative is always important. 
Did anyone say she was having a "meltdown"?
Also, we need to learn the writer's own personal, subjective internal dictionary about what a "meltdown" is. 
Since it is reported in the negative, we must ask:
Was she having a meltdown, with "meltdown" described by the writer's family?
Was she close to having a meltdown?

2.  "We decided" now brings the pronoun "we" back, after she, herself, ordered for her child.  "We decided" indicates that this would be a discussion, or even a debate, that led to a decision. 

3.  Note that only reported alternative to staying in the corner booth was to go outside in the rain.  
How did they get there?  Since they had other restaurants in mind, choosing this one because it was emotionally connected to her husband, was there no alternative but rain?
This is to say:  no car to take the child to?

4.  That a "decision" was necessary, it is an indication that a situation arose in which a "decision" had to be made.  This is to tell us that something happened here. 

5.  That something happened here is indicative in the change of language.  
At this point, she is no longer "my daughter" to the writer. 
Question:  What has happened that has caused the writer to take away the status of being a "daughter" and change her into a "21-month old"?

Answer:   "She wasn't having a meltdown."

This is to say that the child's behavior caused the mother to change her from a "daughter" status, to a "21-month old" that is in her imagination, like others.  

Principle:  A change of language is indicative of a change in reality. 

In the noisy diner I didn’t see anyone looking at us or think we were causing a disturbance. (If that had been the case, we would have gladly taken our baby outside.)
It is no longer a "restaurant" but a "noisy" diner.  
Note that truthful people tell us what happened and not what did not happen. 
Note that she said, "I didn't see anyone looking at us", which means that she was looking at others. 
Note she says, "or think we were causing a disturbance" which is to say she knew what others were not looking at and not thinking.  
This is where truthful people report what they saw, what was said, and so on, but dishonest people tell us what did not happen, including what others did not "think."
Note the introduction of "disturbance" in her language.  

Now note, most importantly, the change in pronouns:
"we would have gladly taken our baby outside."
1.  "we" and not "I"
2.  "baby" and not "daughter" nor "21-month old"
3.  The "disturbance" that did not happen has produced the pronoun "our", that is, to 'share' ownership of the child. 
This is found in the language of biological parents when:
a.  They are being jointly interviewed, speaking collectively
b.  Have a need to share, usually something negative (bad grades)
c.  Have discussed divorce or separation

In this scenario, the writer has introduced the language of divorce while adding the word "disturbance" and being dishonest about the reaction of others.  The "disturbance" was likely between husband and wife, while the child continued to "meltdown" without the subject telling us that she or her husband intervened.  
Also note that she didn't see anyone, but she does not say her husband did not see anyone looking at the "disturbance"; 
Note the embedded "we were causing a disturbance" is not only an admission, but it suggests that it was not just the child that was "melting down" but there was trouble between husband and wife. 

When the food came, my daughter was still fussing. My husband and I decided that we would eat our food quickly then leave.
Now, while "fussing" she is back to being "my daughter."  
Disturbance is "our" but with the lesser term, she reclaims her child as her own. 
Note the word "still" tells us that something was going on before this time. 
Note that instead of "we decided" there is another change of reality:  "My husband ad I decided we would eat our food quickly then leave"; 
a.  "My husband and I" during this time of escalation
b.  They made a decision:  to eat their food quickly and then leave.  But recall that they had already decided to choose a place that would be "quick service" and fast.  This is also something that is not honest.  
c.  "and leave" begs the question:  What else would you do after eating but leave?  The only difference would be if you had other plans at the restaurant. 
Did they go for a different reason?
Out of nowhere, Marcy’s Diner owner Darla Neugebauer threw to-go containers at my husband and yelled, “Either she goes or you go!”
Note that in the national audience, the writer wants the city, state and exact name of the Diner and the full name of the owner, published.  She wants to make certain that detail is known by all, and not just a worker, woman or owner, but the specifics.  This is very important to the writer. 
Note the quote, "either she goes or you go" is to be examined: 
a.  To whom was this directed?
b.  Did the speaker of this quote mean that either the child leaves, or the mother leaves and the child and father stay?
c.  Is this an "either or" statement?  Would there really be a possibility that the child could stay if the mother left?
d.  Did she quote the owner accurately?

We hadn’t seen this woman before and didn’t know who she was. She seemed so unprofessional that we didn’t take it seriously. Our waitress seemed embarrassed by the owner’s behavior too.
Note that the "woman" was not unprofessional, but only "seemed" so unprofessional. 
If you were told either you go or your child goes, would you take it "seriously"?

I continued feeding my child because the food was finally on the table. 

1.  She "continued" but only because the food was finally on the table.  To "continue" is to have begun something.  
When people are truthful, they report things chronologically.  Dishonest people are sometimes caught because they go out of chronological order because what they report did not happen as stated.  
2.  Note that "my daughter" is now "my child."
The word "child" is closely associated in language with child abuse; sometimes it is used because the mother was a victim of child abuse, with a high percentage being sexual abuse, while at other times it is an indication of the child, herself, having suffered child abuse (physical, emotional, sexual, neglect). 
The mother associated child abuse while talking of her own child, here.  This is also a change from "my daughter" and "21-month old."
One should wonder if anyone has called, or threatened to call Child Protective Services, on this mother.  

3.  "Because."

When someone is reporting "what happened" and move to explaining "why" they did something, it is very sensitive.  It means that they want to answer the question before it is even asked.  What would cause the feeding of the child to be so sensitive?
Please note that a witness came forth and reported that the parents were not regularly feeding the child, and had ignored her screams for 40 minutes, while only focusing on each other.  

A few minutes later, Neugebauer, now behind the grill, slammed her hands on the counter. She pointed at my baby’s face and screamed, “You need to shut the hell up!”
My husband replied, “Are you serious? Are you really yelling at a toddler right now?”

Note she calls her "Neugebauer" with no title.  This is to show negative emotion.  
Note that she is now "my baby" and it was her baby's "face" that is the recipient of the point.  

Question:  Why mention the face?
Answer:  The face is where insult is targeted.  The mother felt the insult along with the baby being screamed at.  That is to say: 
Screaming at the baby is wrong and shocking but the mother may be focusing on the element of insult with it.  
Note "my husband replied"  using "replied" and not something stronger.  
If you were the husband, would you have only "replied"?  
The expected is "told", that is, strong, authoritative rebuke at the protection of his daughter.  That is not the language of the mother, however. 

As serious as a heart attack,” she said, with fury in her eyes.

I’ll never forget the look of fear on my baby’s face.
Hence the feel of insult ("face") 

It was then that I turned to my daughter and said calmly, “This is exactly how I’m raising you not to be.”
Here the mother quotes herself as saying something that is age and sophistication inappropriate  for the child's age. 
Note the need to add "calmly" to her language.  This is to suggest something unnecessary and different.  

We then paid the bill, tipped the waitress 25 percent and left.

Note the need to tell us the percentage of the tip. 
Note that the word "left" is indicative of missing information at this point.  

I thought that was that. But after I left a Facebook post about my experience on the Marcy’s Diner page, 

The word "but" refutes or minimizes that which preceded it. 
If she thought "that was that", that is to say, "the issue is over", she, herself, refutes her own assertion with the word "but" which effectively acknowledges that this would have been over, but she intended it not to be over.  This is to tell us her motive for writing. 

Neugebauer responded with a nasty, profanity-laden attack where she called my baby an “IT,” a beast and a rotten child. News outlets picked it up, and  the story quickly spread. All of a sudden, thousands of strangers were commenting on my parenting skills.
What got lost is that it’s never okay to yell at a baby, especially if you own a restaurant. 

Please note that she qualifies yelling at a baby being "never okay" with "especially if you own a restaurant" which has an emphasis upon ownership of a business.  
Why the need to add this?  
Question:  Is "ownership" of a restaurant important to the writer? 
 Answer:  it is.  

This is unnecessary to the story; to us, it would not matter to us  if it was a waitress, a cook, one who managed the eatery, or status as an owner, since it is about yelling at a toddler.  This is the expected main event for who would ever want their own daughter yelled at?  This is why truthful and reliable accounts are 50% of the wording.  

That is is unnecessary but part of the language  and is very important. 

Some may now wonder:   Does the New York mother intend on suing?

Principle:  Unnecessary information is very important.  It is only unnecessary to us.  Once we understand the subject, we will understand what made it necessary. 

Question:  Is this why the first sentence about the story going "national" is so important to the writer?

Question:  Can you think of  professions that are especially not okay to yell at kids?

What might you think of?
I think of:  

Teachers, doctors, day care providers, nurses, cafeteria workers, and so on. 

Restaurant owners are not on my list.  For the writer, it is "especially" restaurant owners.  

You should care about providing good service to their patrons. Neugebauer could have come over politely and told us our baby was disruptive. 

Note "Neugebaur" is without a title.  
Principle:  Incomplete social introduction indicates negative relationship.  

Please next note that "our baby was disruptive" is an embedded admission that the child was disruptive.  To whom was she disruptive?

Note the pronoun "our":

Principle:  When a biological parent uses the pronoun "our" and is not speaking for both parents (as in a joint interview) it is a signal that the parents may have discussed divorcing or separating.  

She should not have thrown things or yelled or cursed.

I want to raise my daughter to be good on airplanes and in restaurants and other public places. 

Note the change from "our" to "my" here.  
Note that this is to say that her daughter is not good on airplanes nor in restaurants, but it is something that she "wants" to accomplish.  This should be taken with the embedded admission above.  She has not raised her daughter to this standard, even though she addressed her child as an adult with adult language. 
Question;  Does this mother not properly understand child development?
Does this mother have unrealistic expectations?

She is a normal toddler who is funny and curious and well-behaved. 

This is to say that she believes, or has been told, that her child's behavior may not always be "normal."

Principle:  When one uses the term "normal" it is a signal that something "not so normal" has taken place, is about to take place, or one has been labeled "less than normal" or "abnormal" at some time in the past. 
It is very likely that this parent has been heavily criticized in her parenting skills (or lack thereof) and/or in her care of the child even to the point of being told that she is not being a "normal" parent or attending to the "normal" actions of a toddler. 
That she is "funny" is not in question, which she listed first. 
That she is "curious" is not in question, which she listed second.
That she is "well behaved" is not in question :  the allegation here is not that a child screamed for 40 minutes, but that the parents did not intervene and comfort the child, instead focused only upon each other, without concern for their daughter, nor the comfort of the patrons, nor the owners or workers. 

Is she perfect? No. Am I a perfect parent? Certainly not. 

This is very interesting here.  We have:
a.  Change of language
b.  Negative description of a child.

1.  Change of language:

"Is she perfect?" is answered by "no" but "Am I a perfect parent" is not answered with "no" but with "certainly" and "not."  This is to suggest a difference between the two denials. 

Is she perfect?  The answer, "no" is expected.  No child is perfect nor is any parent perfect.  Yet, the same question, when applied to herself (not her husband) does not use "no" but "not", (denial) which is now made sensitive by "certainly."

"Certainly" is a word we use when we do not wish to be questioned.  This suggests to us that there is a very big difference between the denials, and the mother's "imperfection" is very different than the child's imperfection, but needs more emphasis. 

This mother is telling us that she has done things as a parent that
a.  She knows is wrong
b.  Others (perhaps her own parents) have called her attention to
c.  She has argued and denied, using "no one is perfect" in her refusal to alter her ways.  

She is telling us something strong here, about herself. 
Note the absence of her husband's parenting skills.  Why did she not say, "Are we perfect parents? No."

This is to put the onus of taking care of the child upon her, only. 
This is consistent with the instinctive word "our", in that she has considered what it will be like to be a single mother caring for the child, should they separate. 

Note also that she said, "Am I a perfect parent?" instead of, "Am I a perfect mother?"  This is likely a very sensitive point to her; a source of discomfort.  

Principle:  A change of language indicates a change of reality. 

But I do know that these things happen. Babies cry and sometimes moms make the call between a tantrum in the loud diner or going out into the rain. 

First, note "moms make the call" and not "parents" nor "dads" excludes the father. 

Embedded Confessions. 

Statements sometimes contain "embedded confessions" where the subject ends up admitting the allegation.  Here we find the example of how the truth "leaked" out from her own mouth.  

She set up an "either or" situation.  What are the two choices?
a. "tantrum in the loud diner"
b.  going out in the rain

Objection:  She is speaking hypothetically
Answer:  it is "the" diner; not "a" diner.  

Principle:  Articles, like Pronouns, are instinctive, and 100% reliable for analysis.  They do not lie.  

Note  next the embedded admission that her child had a "tantrum" and mom chose the tantrum over going outside in the rain.  This is also to recognize that the tantrum would impact others, but the rain would impact her and she would have had to sit in her car to calm her child down.  She does not attribute parental duties to the father.   She does not offer other choices including:
c.  holding her
d.  rocking her
e.  walking with her
f.  talking to her
and so on. 
Either she has a tantrum in the loud diner, or they go out in the rain.  

We know what she chose to do. 

As parents, we sometimes rely on the kindness and empathy of strangers, who know we’re doing the best we can.
It’s compassion I try to model for my daughter. I wish others would do the same.

Please note "strangers" is added here.  Yet before, she knew that no one was looking at them and no one was thinking about the trouble caused.  This is an inconsistency.  Why would they, in this story of just eating breakfast a their daughter being a bit "fussy" need the "kindness and empathy of strangers"?  

Note the entrance of the word "compassion."  By this point, readers may be wondering if the mother had any compassion upon her child, or compassion upon other patrons.  
Note she does not say she showed compassion to her child, or to anyone else, it is only something she "tries to model" instead of saying,
"I model compassion for my daughter."

This is to avoid saying it directly. 


The mother's account is not reliable.  The diner owner yelled at the child inappropriately and admitted it.  The counter claim was that the parents allowed their child to scream and cry, incessantly, for 40 minutes.  Others said that the parents were negligent, not only in tending to their daughter, but even feeding her.  
To this, the mother's own words agree.  There is, within her account, indication of not caring for her child, and refusing to care for her, especially if it meant picking her up, and carrying her outside, to the car.  She is deceptive about other patrons, as she wrote in the negative and gave us indications of deception. 

The mother has likely been accused previously of neglecting her child, and may have had confrontations with loved ones or family members about her lack of care and has, perhaps, refused to make changes.  

It is also likely that the time in the Diner was an unhappy one for the couple who, according to the statement, both ignored a crying child, in need of comfort and redirection.  Neither got up, neither held her, neither took her outside, and neither appeared to care for the child, the patrons, nor the owner, who finally snapped, inappropriately at the child, instead of directing her words to the negligent parents.  

The witness who said parents were not consistently feeding the child but ignoring her, is confirmed with the mother's statement about "continuing" to feed her "because" the food had just arrived.  This awkward feel is what intuitive people sense, and they are correct as it agrees with analysis.  

The mother has likely not endeared herself with readers of the "national" audience and should she decide to file a suit in Maine, may have a difficult time presenting herself in the role of warm hearted, caring victim-mother.  

The mother's negligence does not excuse the diner's owner's actions.  
The father's abdication of being a father and husband is evidenced in the mother's own statement.  
Their family should not be surprised should they separate and divorce papers allege serious child abuse.   Her statement to her child, intended to impress the audience, is age and sophistication disparate for the child's age. 
That the Diner screamer is an "owner" is quite important to the writer, as she intended, deliberately, to stir something up on Facebook, according to her words, and may intend to file suit against the Diner, or go the route of "Go Fund Me" but it may be, more than anything else, that the mother has projected her own negligence and abuse onto a situation where one screaming at her child, in comparison, made her feel less abusive. 

CPS may have been threatened to be called on her, or it may be that friends, and or, close family,  have struggled to convince mother to take better care of her daughter,  but have likely met with more arguments rather than any change.  

It reminds me of the parents at a sporting event of children. 
All parents cheer, but the tiny few who go to excessive extremes, (always remembered by others) to be seen as "the most supporting parents", are often the most neglectful or abusive,  indicating  a powerful need to "show off" due to their own guilt, convincing themselves and others, that they are "good" parents, when, in fact, they are anything but.  It is human nature.  

This mother's assertion reveals a child who was melting down, crying, having a tantrum, like children can do, but unlike others, did not have parental intervention.  

She marks time and events on what did not happen, which is what deceptive people say when they are lying; it is as awkward as it sounds.  This is when she lost chronological order of eating, which also sounds awkward to hearers or readers.  

The form tested as "unreliable" with its small portion devoted to "what happened" and the analysis confirmed the test results.  Her account is unreliable. 
Both claim the owner screamed and this is true. 
The owner's assertion about the neglectful parents is truthful, while the mother's attempt to portray a family with only a "fussy" toddler is not truthful.  

They "made her" sit there, without intervention or comfort.  This, the mother attests to by her own words, of which, should she file suit, or seek money, may be used against her. 

***************************************************************************** My 


Buckley said...

Okay, I've seen this several times and held my tongue. The English teacher in me can't let it be, and I hope it's taken in the spirit of learning from each other, as you've taught me plenty, Peter. :)

The word "who's" is a contraction for "who is" or "who has" and shouldn't substitute for the possessive pronoun "whose" which should be used to modify nouns like "toddler."

MsCabinFever said...

The owner pointed in the baby's face screaming at her.
But later in mom's story, the owner was screaming and throwing things!

Throwing things at who?
Or just throwing things in general?

Great analysis, thank you!

wreyeter72 said...

You might be my soulmate, Buckley.

Lemon said...

I think she's a wonderful mother, too.
Billie Jean Dunn

Unknown said...

Hi Bonnie,

I think she meant when the owner threw the to go boxes at them?


I agree that the mother is minimizing the disruption her daughter's tantrum was causing. That said, this diner owner is a lunatic. If you haven't read her own statement regarding the incident, you are in for a treat. She puts her ignorance on full display. In her statement, she acknowledges that the family was made to wait a long time for the pancakes, which she curses at them for ordering "three f*cking pancakes" when she has limited space on her small grill, and the place is packed. (As if they are supposed to know the size of her grill capacity, and take that into consideration when ordering?)

She also states that the family is lucky she didn't get physical, because she is crazier than they might realize!

The parents were wrong on many levels for staying in the diner while their daughter was having a tantrum. It wasn't fair to their baby, the other patrons, or the owner/wait staff. I am amazed the parents could endure the crying for so long, there is no way I could sit through that, rain, or no rain!

I'll find and post the Diner owner's statement. I feel like it explains some of the mother's sensitivity. (Although I still come to the same conclusion, that she is withholding information about how bad the tantrum actually was.)

Unknown said...

Lol, lemon!

Unknown said...

Both of the Diner owner's responses are contained in this article. Nearly every sentence contains a cuss word, or an insult toward the baby/parents including calling the baby a 'monster', 'demon', etc.

Please note that the owner posted these rants on the Diner's business page in response to the Mother's bad review! I guess she forgot she works in the service industry, and her business page is supposed to have at least a whiff of professionalism. She also gave interviews where she bounced around like a maniac, and proudly stated that she wasn't sorry, (despite admitting her bad judgement in screaming) "because it worked". Apparently in her world threatening and intimidating a baby is ok, as long as she gets her way.

How sad that out of all these adults, not a single one of them had enough sense to offer the baby some crayons, crackers, a phone, or ANYTHING to end the tantrum!

brosnanfan said...

All I have to say, as a mom of two grown children myself, is that 21-month-old toddlers do not get "fussy". " Fussy" is a two-month-old who is a little uncomfortable. Toddlers this age have tantrums (as the mother admitted, unknowingly), and if she thinks she is fooling any parent with this "fussing" nonsense, she's nuttier than the diner owner.

John Mc Gowan said...


Jeff Fairbanks admits he put his baby daughter Janna in a garbage bin: ‘My baby was gone’

THE father of a baby girl missing nearly two months admits he put her in a garbage bin.
Three-months-old Janna Rivera was last seen alive on Thursday, May 29 and Indianapolis Metropitan Police Department has just one person of interest over her disappearance case — her father Jeff Fairbanks.

Fairbanks has told investigators that Janna died in her sleep from SIDS but investigators told 6 ABC that they believe that Fairbanks rolled over on top of his sleeping baby girl and smothered her to death.

Fairbanks, who has not been charged with a crime, told Fox 59 that he put his baby daughter’s body in a dumpster.
“Putting Janna in a trash receptacle, you hear it on the news all the time. I remember thinking to myself, ‘what kind of a person does that?’ But, those are different situations. Those are people trying to get rid of their babies. I wasn`t trying to get rid of my baby. My baby was already gone,” said Fairbanks.
He said that he awoke around 1:30pm on May 28 and noticed Janna not breathing next to him in bed.

“I remember that time because I looked at the clock after I found her. I picked her up. I just freaked. It was obvious. Her lips were blue. She looked normal. Her skin was normal, but she was limp. I just can’t explain how that felt,” Fairbanks continued.

Fairbanks claims he panicked. With his two elder daughters downstairs. he says he wrapped Janna’s body in a blanket and ran out of the house. The baby’s mother Yolanda Rivera-Gonzalez was working.
“I didn’t want anyone to see her like that,” Fairbanks told Fox 59.
He claims he drove around Indianapolis for eight hours with Janna’s body in the car. He said he started drinking.
“While I was driving, I was crying and praying. Completely lost. I remember looking over at a person next to me at a stop light and thinking what they must be thinking. ‘Do they know?’” he said.

Fairbanks claims he eventually went back to the Maison Gardens Apartment Complex where he lived and found a dumpster. Fairbanks says he took his daughter’s body, wrapped in a blanket and wearing a shirt and her nappy, out of the car and left her in the trash bin.
Police have searched the dumpster, the landfill connected to that route and several nearby retention ponds day after day hoping to find baby Janna.
A blanket that was identified as belonging to Janna was found at the landfill.
Asked if Fairbanks only put the blanket in the dumpster, he replied “no,” insisting that Janna was wrapped in the blanket while in the dumpster.

Fairbanks said he did not believe he had committed a crime by not calling emergency services or by putting Janna’s body in a dumpster.
“I don’t feel like I did anything wrong. I reacted the way I reacted because it was so horrifying,” he said.

John Mc Gowan said...


Fairbanks’ wife called emergency services when Fairbanks came home. She has filed a protective order against him with Marion County Sheriff’s Office — three days after their baby’s disappearance — for repeatedly abusing her.
“He said she’s dead, when he came home, and he had buried her,” Janna’s mother wrote in the protective order.

The order stated that Fairbanks’ abuse against her started two years ago and that Fairbanks had a violent episode about every month. She didn’t know exact dates because “there have been so many incidents.” She claimed Fairbanks has pushed and choked her.
“I believe he is a threat to my safety,” she wrote. “I did not call the police in the past because of his threats. He always made me afraid,” the protective order said. “I need this order to protect myself and my children.”
Fairbanks in the interview with Fox 59 praised the work of police investigating Janna’s disappearance.

“I think they have done an overwhelmingly good job. I think in some strange way they have honoured Janna because they have tried so hard,” he said.
He asked for the public’s help to find his daughter.
“Somehow I think she ended up in a place that wasn’t the destination of the ride. Maybe somebody along the route of where she ended up knows something, saw something that they didn’t think anything about,” said Fairbanks.

Asked if he thought police will find his daughter, Fairbanks said no.
“Knowing what I know, and knowing where they have searched and how long it has been. I think it is highly unlikely, unfortunately,” said Jeff Fairbanks.
Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department issued a statement.
IMPD issued this statement to FOX 59:

“The investigation is on-going at this time. Our investigators have followed up on every lead and every single piece of information that has been presented to them and will continue to do so going forward. Our investigators will continue to communicate with the Prosecutor’s Office with any additional revelations that derive from this case.”

Anonymous said...

The owner sounds like "The Soup Nazi".
Poor behavior all the way around.
Not being from Maine, I have a question. Do a lot of people from this area think it's ok to act like this? I have run across a few people from Boston and Maine who seem to think very rude behavior is normal. In most of the country/world is is not.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Brosnsfan. There is a vast difference between a whining whimpering small child and a screaming hissy-fit toddler. I raised a son who was hell-on-wheels sometimes when we were out publically, especially in restaurants and sometimes in grocery stores, even on a rare occasion at my office if I had to run in there and he was with me.

Sometimes when eating out, we tried everything we knew to control him and there was no calming him, even trying to keep him from running all over the restaurant was a nightmare. This child was totally uncontrollable at times. It was terribly embarrassing for us. We would get him out of the restaurant as fast as we could, seeing no other choice. Talking to him did no good, a light spank on the legs outside did no good, nothing did.

He was a hyper child occasionally when he became overcome with whatever it was that was bothering him. Not bi-polar, not mentally disturbed; in fact, was a brilliant and very talented child with an exceptionally high IQ.

He would become so hysterically loud with what we called his screaming fits, with no way to calm him, other than for me and my husband to take turns taking him to the car and waiting for the other one to finish their meal. If he had eaten little of his meal, his left overs would be taken to the car for him to eat there.

There is no way these parents should have sat there deliberately ignoring their screaming child. Had I been one of the patrons, or the manager, I would have taken control of this horror and had these customers removed from my restaurant long before it came to a head. I can understand this owner finally blowing her gasket. I would have done it long before she did!

There is NO WAY we would have allowed our disruptive child to disturb the whole restaurant and ruin everyone elses meal. I was bad enough that he ruined ours. But what else could we do? We couldn't get in a screaming match with him or beat him to death. We did the only thing we could; take him outside.

I see several questionable deceptions in the mothers statements but I also see where both she and the manager/owner handled the situation badly. I do not believe this mother could prevail in a lawsuit against the restaurant or it's owner. For one thing, the parents had already waited a good 30-mins prior to being seated, then waited another 40 mins prior to the child being served and there is NO WAY any reasonable thinking person could expect a 21-month old child to sit still and be quiet during this lengthy period of time. It just ain't gonna happen whether one has a hyper child or not.

Poor little kid. They weren't even thinking of this little boy. This child was hungry, and probably sitting in a filthy wet diaper, possibly also teething. IF they had cared about him they would have gotten him something to eat somewhere else way prior to this situation ever happening to begin with. This rude and non-caring mother only cared about herself and not wanting to go out in the rain.

John Mc Gowan said...

A few minutes later, Neugebauer, now behind the grill, slammed her hands on the counter. She pointed at my baby’s face and screamed, “You need to shut the hell up!”
My husband replied, “Are you serious? Are you really yelling at a toddler right "now?”

Note "toddler" not "my daughter" or "my baby" and so on. Why doesn't he take claim of his daughter. Instead, we get distancing distancing language.


“Are you serious? Are you really yelling at (my baby-my daughter) right "now?”

I may have used, actually, i would have used stronger language than that. I certainly wouldn't distance myself away from her.

Statement Analysis Blog said...


the Diner reaction is not the norm, nor acceptable culturally.

I think that there was an element of shock to see how long the NY couple ignored their daughter and exasperation built up, along with the tension of the atmosphere from other patrons.

It is sad that no one simply rebuked the parents earlier, with a firm, polite message, rather than an explosion.

I also think the parents' attitude likely added to the tension; not the attitude of ignoring the child, that was bad enough, but from the writing, we are looking at a very entitled, high minded woman, and this may have further angered those around them.

It's my guess.


Juliet said...

OT -
I'll get to the crazy diner but first:
I don't get 'my' and 'our' - It irks when I hear my husband refer to our children as 'my' rather than 'our'. To me, that's like saying they are only his, and not also mine, and it also seems unnecessarily possessive. If we are together in company I refer to our children as ours, if he's not there, I say 'our' and occasionally 'my'. I am most likely to say 'our', because that's how it is, they are ours, not only mine, or his. I did most of the child-rearing but my preference has always been for 'our'. This might be because this is how most parents I know,mand have known, speak in the same way, so if a new person says 'my' of their child, I will first consider that they might be a single parent, or that their child is a step-child to the other parent, or that the parent is being inconsiderate of the other parent by not saying 'our'. (I will also ask 'how is the family?', rather than 'How is your family?', which is also what others are most likely to ask me. I don't know why that is - possibly because in smaller communities your family might also include members of my family, so 'the' family seems less likely to offend anyone, though it might sound rather impersonal to anyone listening in.)

Another word I don't get is 'with'. I prefer to use 'with', in order to not come across as dominant. I don't want to talk to or at someone, but rather with them, as in wanting a conversation, and for them to talk, too. So I say, 'I would like to talk with you, or to meet with you.' I nearly always choose these terms in preference to the more demanding 'I would like to talk to you' or 'I would like to see you'. To my mind, it's okay to say let's see one another, talk with one another, but not only for me to see or talk to the other person. To me, 'with' is about recipricocity, wanting relationships to be reciprocal rather than one-sided.

( I can relate to the use of 'with' as distancing language in other contexts, as in 'X went to the beach with D' rather than 'X and D went to the beach'. )

Anonymous said...

I am glad you did this diner story. I feel the parents and the owner were both wrong, except the owner was only half wrong. She was right but shouldn't have yelled.

I hate to go off topic but baby Janna's Dad is talking again.I really though Peter would have already analyzed this.

Unknown said...

That stood out to me too John! He takes no ownership of his daughter, which goes along with the rest of the language in the mother's account.

Annonymous17 said...

This is a really good analysis. When I originally read the mother's statement elsewhere online, my first thoughts were, "who tells a '21-month-old' something like that and expects her to understand?" and "How can a baby be 'imperfect'? Babies cry and that's not imperfect, it's actually completely normal and understandable."

The whole statement reminds me of something a professor of abnormal child psychology told our class in undergrad: (paraphrasing here) "Most child abuse stems from adult expectations from people who are not adults." Clearly, this woman thinks that her 21-month-old should somehow not cry when hungry and should be able to understand complex adult conversation. I feel sorry for her daughter. If there's some documented history of neglect there, or potential witnesses who will report that in a lawsuit, the mother will have a hard time finding an attorney to represent her if she intends to sue.

Anonymous said...

I enjoyed your analysis of this statement. One thing that struck me (no pun intended), though it isn’t statement analysis: “Marcy’s Diner owner Darla Neugebauer threw to-go containers at my husband…” Wouldn’t this be assault/attempted assault? And they just let it go, even after this incident went very public? It reeks of exaggeration for the sake of effect. (Not that I agree in any way with the diner owner's way of handling the situation, either at the time or since.)

Deejay said...

To stop my small children from throwing fits in public, I used every trick I had. (although an airplane is tough, since you can not 'step outside'). I took them out of restaurants and spent as long as it took standing in the parking lot. If they kept up a tantrum they got a spank or two. Or I shut them in the car to scream and stood directly outside, looking in, telling them we could go back in when they settled down. Sometimes, I counted slowly to bore them. While driving, I would pull over and park the car, explaining we were going nowhere until they chose to behave. Sometimes I put my son in the back of the pickup and stood next to it- this worked especially well in the winter.' My -it is cold out here. We can go in the store when you behave---' Your child has no right to scream, and no right to run around. The thing is it takes persistence- sadly lacking in many parents. Also, it is your job to entertain them- bring books, color pictures, play rock, paper, scissors, etc.- not to chat obliviously to your significant other about the weather.... These tricks don't work every time- but over time the kid gets that their behavior directly affects their quality of life. In this case, the diner owner should have politely asked the parents to leave. Pack the food up to go, give it to them free, whatever it took to get them out of there... (Over time, the offending parents will get that their lack of taking responsibility for their child affects their quality of life.) :)

Deejay said...

40 minutes of crying in a restaurant was about 39 minutes too long...

Juliet said...

I read the owner's response, too.

I wondered if the couple were maybe about to open their own diner business, and set up the incident to attract other parents via social media to what would surely be the ultimate 'child-friendly' eatery, where no-one would bat an eyelid if a toddler wasn't the best behaved, and where an hour long episode would be considered perfectly reasonable.

If that's not the case, it was still a set-up for publicity, and I would tend toward the diner as target because it was one the father 'knew of'. He maybe also knew the owner to be bad-tempered and foul-mouthed, and likely to freak out sooner or later at the disruption - it was later, so they had to hang around ignoring their baby for quite some time before the owner really kicked off - anyone else would have left when she threw the boxes, but that wasn't enough drama, someone wanted more. I think they knew that three pancakes, plus omelettes, would be a problem order on a busy Saturday morning. The father may have related stories about the owner to his wife, and she maybe thought that sounded just the place to cause a scene worthy of national attention. No doubt they were told they would have a lengthy wait, and chose to wait. Who doesn't keep an on-the-go emergency supply of snacks for their toddler for that sort of eventuality - and why couldn't one of them have nipped out and got something for her from somewhere else during all of that time? Even when the pancakes arrive, they leave them untouched, out of her reach, when their reason for being there is, allegedly, to give her breakfast. Instead, they wind-her up even further, tease her with the sight of the pancakes, ignore her for longer. Ridiculous - It has to be a set-up. In twenty-one months they haven't picked up on the simple art of distraction, or even how, eventually, to placate their hungry baby with a pancake? It's too absurd. Did the owner say they didn't even eat, or want the food when it came? Seems like they weren't there for the food.

The owner also is too much - I can't help finding amusement at her outrage at someone having the audacity to order three pancakes for a table of three, in a diner.

I really question why they 'figured it would have good service and be family-friendly'. How does one figure that out of thin air? They don't, as the father already knew the diner, and what the service and attitude towards children there was likely to be. Even if he didn't know the owner to be somewhat off-the-wall, he would likely know they don't have the ability to fulfil some orders quickly, If he'd eaten there even just once before, he might well have learned of the perils of asking for three pancakes, it might even have been a source of amusement between him and other members of the Coast Guard.

Statement Analysis Blog said...

The video of the diner owner may lead some to think that yelling at a child is not far outside of her norm.

I think this may have added to the clash of cultures with both sides.

Juliet, in twenty-one months having not picked up on the art of distraction, is a telling point you have made.

The mother's writing shows she is intelligent.

This suggests to me that she knows, as would even a 12 year old babysitter, that distraction was needed and that she just DID NOT care.

Good points,


Juliet said...

Thanks, Peter - I'm looking forward to being able to use my new laptop soon, and to be able to flit between lots of browser windows and so pay more attention to the original post, read and check quotes, cut and paste and find links as I write. I'm pretty useless with a tablet, but it just has to do to be going on with. :)

rob said...

I picture a diner as being a smaller, close type of place. Obviously crowded, every seat filled, people waiting. And in the mix, a screaming 2 yr old. For 40 minutes or longer!!!! If I had been there, I would have had to leave. When you are not used to a tantrum, it puts you over the edge. (think ice picks in the ears)
Parents don't seem to raise their children the way I was raised or raised my own. If you know that the outcome will be negative, it is a deterent. In the middle of a serman, we'll have a screamer, parents do nothing, and we have 2 fully staffed nurseries available.
I like that the owners scream shut the baby up. All she wanted was a little attention, and when she got it, she was over the problem.
I also think the mom thinks she is going to get something out of this, and it may not be what she wants.

Buckley said...

I'm with Rob. I would have used different words than the owner but letting your kid go on for 40 minutes is inconsiderate. The kid and parents needed to be called out on it.

Unknown said...

The Diner owner states that she does not have kids. There is no excusing that the parents allowed this tantrum to continue for 40 minutes, and that they weren't more prepared, and in tune to meet their daughter's needs, but I feel like the parents setting the plate out of the baby's reach is possibly being misinterpreted.

Until my son was about 2-3 years old, I didn't place his plate in front of him in a restaurant. Babies push their plates off the table. This is fine in a high chair at home, but not ideal in a restaurant. I'd cut up his food on the plate, and then give him bites, or place bites on the silicone table cover I kept in my diaper bag for this exact purpose. He threw lots of food on the food, (which I always cleaned up) but luckily he never broke any plates.

I'd say as agitated as the baby was, she likely refused bites of food when they offered them. It's pretty normal for little ones to refuse the very thing they are crying for once they have worked themselves into a tantrum. Just speculation on my part, but it makes sense to me. It doesn't excuse them ignoring her hysterics, and causing a stressful situation for all involved, but I can see a situation where them appearing not to feed her, and leaving the food in the middle of the table would be reasonable, (and not necessarily because they didn't care, or were too engrossed in their conversation.)

Juliet said...

Jen Ow - yes, the same here, so that does sound reasonable. I wouldn't say the baby had worked herself up, though, more that she had been worked up by the parents, who created the tantrum, by not attending to her until it was too late. I suppose I just preferred the owner's take on the situation - it does make a good disastrous parenting story better, and I already didn't have any sympathy for the parents. :-D

Anonymous said...

This analysis is interesting. Its seems neither the parents or the owner have any shame so it's not surprising the situation escalated to the level it did. I feel bad that this baby has such a self-absorbed, stubborn parent(s). It seems everyone was waiting for the mother and father's commonsense to kick in and were probably shocked when it never did.

My son was almost two-and-a-half when we moved across the country. He had a passion for cars so I used that to my advantage when we would fly back to visit family. Before the trip I would purchase new Hot Wheels cars he had never seen to present to him; one every half hour as the flight progressed (it was usually around a three to four hour flight one way). Thanks to the cars and Goldfish crackers (the best travel snack for kids, ever IMO), we had pleasant traveling experiences. The cars held his attention. Some of the cars the Goldfish could actually ride in. This little "travel ritual" gave him something to look forward to throughout the trip and he focused on a pleasant expectation rather than restless boredom. I guess I was lucky he didn't demand them all at once on subsequent trips, mainly because I think he enjoyed the excitement of each new "reveal." It also helped him understand the concept of how much flight time was left as he knew how many cars he would have by the end of the trip. He enjoyed this tradition into early elementary school years. This article brought back these memories to me. He is now 17.

Part of the joy and the difficulty of being a parent is embracing the challenge of trying to find ways of helping your kid adapt. This fundamental responsibility rests on them first and foremost. It's sad that this mom or dad couldn't or wouldn't try to do this for their daughter and the situation turned into such a bad scene.

Unknown said...

Hi Juliet,

Yeah, I didn't mean to make it sound like the baby was at fault, I was just imagining how once she was so upset, she likely wouldn't be consoled by much, other than maybe a change of scenery, and a few minutes of distraction to forget what she was crying about.

Like Peter said, even if they had just held her, or tended to her, it likely would have helped. I also don't understand why they didn't have snacks, toys, etc. Surely they had a phone, why not set her up with a youtube video to watch?

I actually read the owner's rants first, and I found her to be so over the top ridiculous that it was easy for me to take the side of the parents at first. I was disappointed when I read the Mom's response, because I was in their corner up until then. I even doubted the owner's claim that the crying was as bad as she claimed, and that it lasted 40 min, because it seemed like such an exaggeration. (How could the parents stand to listen to that for 40 min!)

Then the mother spoke out, and sure enough she confirmed it was at least 40 mins, and that it was a tantrum! Now all I can say about the parents is shame on you too!

Anonymous said...

As far as I've been able to ascertain, nothing has been said about the way the baby behaved during the thirty minute wait before the parents and baby were seated. Personally, I'm not believing this child hadn't already tired out and became irritable, cranky and more than just a little fussy long before they were seated.

Beginning during the thirty min wait and up to the seventy minutes total is an unbelievably long time to expect a 21-mon old toddler to sit and/or stand comfortably without having already begun to create havoc due to needing attention even during the wait. This child would have still been wearing toddler diapers when out of the home for any length of time and would have needed a change.

I'd lay odds this baby needed a diaper change which went ignored for a this entire time, as well as being thirsty and in need of a drink, and hungry. Nothing that I've read has said anything about the child being tended too at any time these parents were in the restaurant. Was this the childs' first feeding of the morning, had it been given any snacks? This child was terribly neglected the entire time.

The owner of the restaurant finally snapped and I don't blame her. Somebody certainly needed too! Just throwing some little light-weight carry out containers at the family table is the least I would have done. As a patron (or the manager/owner) having to endure the hell-breakfast these parents inflicted on me and the rest of the customers, I would have already been in a fracas with these idiots, and if that hadn't gotten them rooted out I would have called 911 and had them served up with a 'disturbing the peace' citation, removed, and let the chips fall where they may.

kimisan03 said...

Anon @5:07

I don't have children, but if I ever do, I will TOTALLY use the goldfish/cars trick! I come for the statement analysis, I stay for the comments!

Juliet said...

Jen Ow -I knew you weren't faulting the baby - I honed in on 'herself' because I am hyper-sensitive when anyone seems to imply that anyone else caused something to themselves when they didn't, which is due to an unfortunate experience, in the distant but not yet distant enough past, with a newly qualified and totally inept dentist Well, I'm sure he wasn't totally inept, just somewhat inept, but I didn't stay with him long enough to find out. He had put in a temporary crown on a back tooth which was difficult to reach, but overlooked to remove some material he had used, and within a couple of days an abscess developed round it. I went back, in agony, a few days later, saying there was some foreign body lodged in there which I could feel and which was causing agony, but he couldn't find it, and insisted there was nothing there. A week passed, by which time I wanted to die, as you (I) do, with unrelenting toothache, so I went to one of his colleagues at the practice, who took a look, mumbled 'dental cord' in the direction of the nurse, followed by a derogatory remark about the other dentist, and got it out, to my immediate and great relief. 'There,' she announced, as though I hadn't heard her mumbling,'you've given yourself an abscess -I'll prescribe some antibiotics.' To this day I am indignant at having been accused of causing it myself, and discovering that dentists close ranks against their victims :) - but there,I was so relieved to have had it taken out, that I let it go, besides they all need someone to practise on.

Yes, the adults were all as bad as each other, so my vote goes to the baby for best victim of the day. :)

VLW said...

'It was then that I turned to my daughter and said calmly, “This is exactly how I’m raising you not to be.” '

I imagine this was said for the "benefit" of the other diners and not for the little girl. Ego!

Vance Holmes said...

I teach my English students to vary their nouns. I emphasize -- don't keep telling me about "the baby, the baby, the baby." Find synonyms! . . . not just so the reader isn't put to sleep by the repetition, but also because it is an efficient way to further describe and characterize "the toddler," "the two-year-old" -- "the little stinker."

All language use is artificial and, in some sense, meant to achieve effect. Speaking to police or giving a formal account is one thing -- but in a prepared written letter, couldn't changes in language simply indicate solid writing skills?

VLW said...

Vance Holmes, I wonder the same thing. When I write an account, I use language differently than if I were speaking extemporaneously. I suppose it would depend on the audience to whom I was writing, or perhaps the type of report (i.e. annual Christmas letter describing a funny incident, or an accident report for a fender bender) At least, I assume so. What do you say, Peter?

kimisan03 said...

@ Vance Holmes and VLW,
I am not an expert, but I imagine it is all a matter of either "reporting" or "storytelling." I'm a writer, too, and when I am trying to engage my reader, I use synonyms to keep them from getting bored. But reports and statements seem to be a different thing. I've had to make several 911 calls as a witness to car accidents, and when I think back on my written statements, I kept the report to the truthful 25/50/25 percentage with no change in language except for the change of reality with new information (i.e. I once wrote something like "The black car ran the red light and hit a person in another vehicle," then changed "person" to "woman" when I got closer and saw the person in the other vehicle was female. I just now saw that I changed "car" to "vehicle" because when the car was hit, it stopped running and therefore became a vehicle. Go statement analysis!). Peter needs to weigh in since he's the authority on this; that's just my opinion on the storytelling.

Statement Analysis Blog said...

Vance Holmes said...
I teach my English students to vary their nouns. I emphasize -- don't keep telling me about "the baby, the baby, the baby." Find synonyms! . . . not just so the reader isn't put to sleep by the repetition, but also because it is an efficient way to further describe and characterize "the toddler," "the two-year-old" -- "the little stinker."

All language use is artificial and, in some sense, meant to achieve effect. Speaking to police or giving a formal account is one thing -- but in a prepared written letter, couldn't changes in language simply indicate solid writing skills?

Answer; "yes" yet we look at which words were used in which context and note that emotion has the most impact on change of language; even when one is doing this deliberately for writing style.
also, with this woman's writing, I don't find the element of higher thinking...just an opinion, but I do not think she was deliberate in changing to avoid repetition.

I have learned a bit more about the case, including how far away the owner was when she yelled. It makes sense when looking at the language.


Tania Cadogan said...

Did my post go walkies yesterday?

Anonymous said...

Kimisan, here's another handy-dandy trick you might want to use when out shopping with your little kid in the grocery store (if you ever have one), and he is driving you to utter distraction and making you crazy screaming and wanting every damned toy and trinket that isn't nailed down:

Tell him/her that he can have ONE toy that does not cost more than $___; he can pick out the one he wants. If he wants more than one, tell him to pile them all into the cart, but by the time you get to the end of your grocery shopping, he must decide between ONE toy, or two, if you're feeling generous or he beats you down for two.

This keeps him totally occupied choosing multiple toys, piling them into the cart, playing with and looking at them, and by the time you get to the end of your shopping he has already tired of most of them, THEN finally at great length chooses the ONE special toy he wants and happily leaves the others behind. By golly, it WORKS.

I am the anon who posted earlier about having a hyper son that caused us great embarrassment in restaurants many times when we went out to eat; for that we never found a workable solution, other than to take him out of the restaurant and take turns eating while the other one stayed outside or sat in the car with him.

He threw a coupla fits at my office too, lying down on the floor, kicking, screaming, and once calling someone a SOB (he was four), but the only thing I could do there was get out of there as quickly as I could, just tell others to ignore him and step right over him. They did. One even broke up laughing and said, 'hey I like that kid', but I can tell you, it was NOT funny.

He made me want to beat the hell out of him more than once; but thank God I didn't. Once I did pinch him (and not even all that hard) trying to stop him, but the little b'stard ran headlong up and down isles through the grocery store screaming 'child abuse, child abuse'... OMG, the horror or it all, with people staring at me and giving me dirty looks!

I rushed over to him and whispered in his ear, "you're going to find out what child abuse is when I get you home." But as soon as we got home he jumped out of the car and ran down to the neighbors bug zapper threatening to electrocute himself if I touched him. Again, he derailed me. I chased him with the broom but he got away from me. I finally had to give up. This was before I came up with the idea to let him choose one toy to keep him occupied.

He grew up to be a wonderful son, very bright, gifted, sharp, gorgeously handsome, and a beautiful person. He's deceased now. He had a life-long heart birth defect and passed on last Sept at 41 of a massive heart attack. All of my memories of him are very precious, he was so special. I just wish we'd known about his heart defect during his childhood and earlier youth, so many things could have been done differently. We never know what is making them tick, we can only love them.

Katprint said...

I notice that the analysis of the mother's newspaper statement ignores the diner's statement that the mother was responding to. There are many parts of the mother's statement that mirror or directly address parts of the diner's statement (for example, the diner's statement mentions the toddler's pancakes but not what if anything the parents had for breakfast, and the mother's statement similarly mentions the toddler's pancake only.) Doesn't it change the analysis when the speaker is mirroring someone else's language? Here is a link to the mother's original (spontaneous) Facebook post on the diner's Facebook page, and the obscenity-laden Facebook post by the diner which went viral to which the mother's newspaper statement was responding.

Fig Bar Inspector said...


Thank you Peter for your excellent blog of Statement Analysis. I have been a true crime buff for a long time. I had an interest in becoming an FBI agent when I was younger but I had the impression that I need to be have a law degree to work for them. I made pretty good grades in school but I was not deans list material. Though I have always had a good memory and a good observant of human behavior. So I ended up in Sales for a Major Electronics Retailer for 29.5 years. I wish that I had been aware of SA during my time in retail because I spent a majority of my time in management positions.

I was wondering if you could do an Analysis on the Letter that Susan Smith wrote to "The State"Newspaper of South Carolina. The newspaper wanted to get her "side of the story" in conjunction with the 20th anniversary date of her conviction for First Degree Murder of her two sons, Alex 14 months and Michael 3 years old. I know that she is serving a life sentence and could be eligible for parole in 10 more years. She states that "she is not the monster society thinks she is". She says " It has been hard to listen to lie after lie and not be able to defend herself". From what I have gather from reading her letter she is more concerned about what peoples perception of her is. She has failed to show any remorse for what she did. She claims that"Something went very wrong that night. I was not myself. I was a good mother and I loved my boys." She never admits that she killed her children and continues to say that she was not in her right mind. Give reasons for what she did but never admiting that she did anything wrong.

Fig Bar Inspector said...

Edit to add. The last sentence should read She continued to give reasons for what shed did but never admitted that she did anything wrong. She did not say that she killed her children.

Anonymous said...

JR, she certainly IS a monster. Under no circumstances should she ever be given parole. She has no remorse; she denies the tense and scheming boyfriend relationship she was in as being a factor when it was; she won't even admit or talk about what led her to kill her babies. She would kill again too, claiming she was not in her right mind. Well, of course she wasn't! I hope she has been sterilized in prison so that she can't produce another child that would carry her killer genes; even if/when adopted, her offspring would still carry her inherited genes no matter how well they were raised or what kind of good life they were given. Genes are genes.

According to her stories during the investigation and before she was sent to prison, she was supposedly abused and raped many times as a child, including being raped by her stepfather who her mother was still married too at the time she drowned her babies; even later continuing her sexual relationship voluntarily with her rapist step-father after she became a teenager and could have tried to stop him. She claimed her mother knew what was going on and would not stop him. (MOther did later divorce him). However, you probably know more about Susan's background than I do.

Regardless, whether she was raped as a child or not, that is no excuse or reason to kill your own children or anyone elses. In fact, I do not understand how a woman (or man) who was abused and raped as a child could ever inflict the same kind of abuse and torment on another child. One would think they would be the last ones on this earth who would ever cause such terror and pain on another helpless child. I'm sorry for them, what they had to endure, and their ruined life, but cannot find any compassion or understanding when they do the same thing (or worse) to another child.