Being a parent is the most amazing job out there and I love it. It is rewarding, challenging and awe-inspiring. But there are also moments when it seems like you are working for bosses (your children) with about one-sixty-forth your intelligence who will not let you quit – and cannot fire you – for 18 years. Last night through today is one of those times when I’m just shaking my head, throwing my hands in the air and trusting that sticking to my guns will pay off.
This story begins with us returning from vacation a week ago, when within hours I came down with my first stomach bug since I was a child. Let’s just say thank goodness I still have Eliza’s training potties in the bathrooms, because I was using two toilets at once. After Greg and I both got it, I spent a few days fearfully anticipating when the kids would succumb to the violent sickness. So, as Eliza kept asking for bread throughout the past week, I eagerly complied with the requests, thinking she must have felt nauseated.
It turns out she either already had a mild version of it while on vacation or she’s not going to get it. So here we are, a week later, and the result is I now have a child who only wants to eat bread and fruit. This is a situation that I would like to correct quickly. Thus, last night I made mac and cheese from scratch with carrots and peas. It was delicious. I was proud of it. I served it to Eliza and Zach. Neither wanted to touch it and both started crying. (Lucky for Zach, he’s too young for tough love and I gave him something else.)
I told Eliza she had to at least taste it before she could get down from her seat at the table. What ensued can only be described as madness. She spent 25 minutes in complete despair, screaming and crying. She asked to get down probably 42 times, each time receiving the explanation that she could do that after she took a bite. Sometimes when she asked, I would ask, “Eliza, what do you have to do to get down?” And she would answer, “Eat my pasta.” Right. Good girl. You get it. But getting it and doing it are two entirely different things.
I finally took one piece of pasta, one pea, and one carrot, placed them on her place mat, and said, “Eat that and you can get down.” She took them, shoved them quickly in her mouth, chewed vigorously, opened her mouth to show me it was gone, and smiled. I asked, “Did you like it?” She replied enthusiastically, “I WIKE it!” Yay! It was the proverbial “Green Eggs and Ham” moment. Then I asked, “Would you like to eat some more?” She responded, “No, I wike to get down.” What could I do? She held up her end of the bargain. So that was her dinner. A pea-sized carrot, pea, and mini penne noodle.
She also didn’t eat but a few bites of her spinach and cheese omelet for breakfast yesterday, and I had saved that, too. Wouldn’t you know she woke up at 12:30 a.m. asking for bread. I told Greg she had eggs and pasta in the fridge, and then, in a moment of weakness, I said, “You know what? Just give her bread.” I didn’t want her to throw a fit, get worked up, and not be able to go back to sleep. So I went to bed and he got suckered by a 26-month-old.
This morning I offered Eliza the eggs for breakfast. She ate a few bites and refused the rest. She wanted other food, she wanted to go outside, she wanted juice, and I promised her she could have all these things if she would eat the eggs. I finally threw them out after 2 hours. Next I moved onto the pasta. It’s almost 2 p.m. and I’ve been offering her reheated pasta for four hours. She will not budge. But neither will I. Until she eats some of it, she won’t get anything else. This might cost me her nap because she’ll be too hungry to sleep. But I must stick it out.
As her employee, she’s given me an inexorable and nearly impossible assignment that is asinine and costing her a lot. But she’s testing my character. What she doesn’t realize, because she’s two, is that I am smarter than her and I have more stamina. I’ll show her who’s boss!