The Childhood Illness No One Talks About

lani-2By Lani Sheldon
Published: March 22, 2014


With the onset of spring we are finally nearing the end of cold and flu season, a time period similar to the dark ages for parents with small children. 

I look forward to banishing the endless runny noses, quarantine (aka social isolation), and weeks of interrupted sleep that accompany these viral pathogens that sweep through our household. Don’t even get me started on the dramatic nature of the dreaded ‘man-cold’.

However these pale in comparison to an illness rarely spoken of amongst parenting experts and public health professionals.  It occurs year-round, and has no known cure.

We are currently battling this debilitating disease. One minute we were happily socializing at a playdate (or other seemingly innocuous toddler-friendly setting; my memory is foggy), the next I was trying to halt an explosive screaming match, of what I would later discover is affectionately referred to in underground parenting circles as “The Mines”. 

For those not aware of the symptoms of ‘The Mines’, this affliction can strike toddlers at random and involves intense feelings of irrational possessiveness towards objects that typically do not belong to the child (e.g. toys, furniture, sticks, poop).

The primary symptom used in diagnosis of this affliction is loud, repetitive shouting of the word “MINE” directed at all those persons within a 2 block radius of said object.

Other symptoms include clenched fists that even the strongest adults are unable to pry apart, and an accompanying high-pitched squeal akin to that of dying squirrel.  Flare-ups of ‘The Mines’ are recurrent and worsen over time. 

While those most commonly affected by ‘The Mines’ are those in the 0-6 age bracket, current research (in my house) has documented several instances in a grown adult male of approximately 33 years of age.

Suggested home remedies include calmly and serenely talking with the afflicted child about how their behaviour affects others (to which they are supposed to reply “yes mummy” and bound off with a hug and a kiss), as well as various forms of time-outs and other positive parenting techniques. Failed potential ‘treatments’ include telling your toddler to “Go and get a job and make some money to pay for it yourself, then it can be yours”.

We continue our battle with this condition to this very day. Please keep our family in your thoughts. 

Lani is the creator of a community resource website and blog about parenting.  She can also be found on Twitter @SquamishBaby.



  1. Muriel Shephard says:

    I assume your comments are intended to be humorous, but if not, you may like to watch ‘Angry Kids and Stressed Out Parents’ on CBC’s Doc Zone on Thursday March 27th at 9pm. See today’s Vancouver Sun (March 24th.) for more.

  2. Lani says:

    Hi Muriel – yes humor was most definitely intended :) I thoroughly enjoyed the CBC documentary last week, but I also think it is important that parents feel a sense of community and support around the fact that these behaviours are incredibly normal for young children and are not necessarily a reflection of inadequate parenting practices. Parenting is incredibly challenging – so a sense of humor should be a prerequisite!