It was a Wednesday afternoon. Everyone’s place was set, the food was all laid out on the table. Small plates to the side were filled with lettuce, shredded carrots and sprinkled with croutons. Little rolls, grilled with garlic butter, sat precariously on the edge of the main dish. In the center of it all was the star, the world’s best lasagna. A beautiful sight to behold. And yet, out of the corner of my eye, I could see a princess plate with mac and cheese. The sore spot on an otherwise perfect spread. This plate of mac and cheese comes at no surprise. In fact, Ella always eats mac and cheese for dinner. She is locked into this mode and will not try anything else.
She didn’t use to always be this way. She used to like just about anything we put in front of her. Pizza, spaghetti, any of these kid favorites could be a winner. Something happened in her toddler mind that forever changed her view of food. Except that night I was determined to change her mind.
It was truly a battle of the wills. I did not think my request to be too unreasonable. Just one bite of lasagna, and she could go back to her mac and cheese. I use the term bite loosely, since this was almost so microscopic that I could barely see anything on my fork. And her reaction to my proposal was almost as gigantic as the bite was small. Screams and tears! Yelling and shoving, countless pleas for escape. At this point I will confess, I did not know how to handle this situation. It was a mix of discipline, scolding, holding, timeouts, bartering, reason, commanding and pleading.
This went on for about forty five minutes. Fault me if you will, but giving in to something like this, in my mind, would only teach my daughter that if she throws a tantrum she will get her way. So it was an important battle. Or so I thought. I hate to use the cliche’, but hindsight really is 20/20.
Bottom line, this wasn’t that big a deal. And the end result? I shoved it in her mouth and she spit it out all over the floor. I let her go. I realized from this little tiff, that no one won. She didn’t win, because she really just didn’t want to try it. I didn’t win, well, because I didn’t get her to try it. Oh but I saw that going so much differently in my head…
To wind down from that ordeal, after church, I sat with Pax in my arms for about a half hour while he slept. I know I professed to not be a ‘baby person‘ but on that night, I needed it. I needed someone who wasn’t fighting, or squirming, or demanding something, or screaming. Holding my baby who slept silently in my arms was healing for my soul. Ella and I are O.K. now, and I decided to not push the issue again for a long time. Maybe when I really can reason with her…
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