Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Food for Thought

"You don't have to like it. You have to eat it." -My dad, whenever one of us said we didn't 'like' what mom had made for dinner.

On Saturday night, we put the peanut to bed early. She refused to eat her dinner, and it spiraled out of control. So all of the things we were going to do - get ice cream, play a game, read books and the rest of the pre-bedtime ritual - were called off.

Our garden is no joke
Dinner was simple. Some grilled chicken thighs that I brushed with olive oil, balsamic and garlic. Our vegetable was grilled eggplant. The first ever eggplant to come out of our garden, also brushed with olive oil, balsamic, and garlic.

It was delicious. The eggplant melted in your mouth in a taste explosion, if I may say so myself. But the peanut refused to eat it. We gave her every opportunity. Even to the point where we told to her to eat just one tiny piece. That's all she had to do to ensure all of the fun activities we had planned for the evening. One bite-sized (peanut bite-sized) piece of scrumptious grilled eggplant.

She stood her ground. We stood ours. We even attempted to force feed her. She locked her arm over her mouth.

Fine. Straight to the shower, then straight to bed. No ice cream. No Candy Land. No book or silly shadows before bed. Spalding, you'll get nothing and like it.

She didn't like it, but actually went along with it easier than we had expected. My wife came out of the bathroom and told her "two minutes to play." Then she told me, "she shouldn't even be allowed to play, actually."

My wife was being the tough guy. We had switched roles. I went in there and turned off the water. We wrapped the peanut in her towel, clipped her nails, brushed her hair, put on her pajamas.

While most of this was happening, I was on the floor playing with Luna. My wife left the room to get something and the peanut hopped off the bed and onto my back. Luna was cuddling between my arms. I yelled "mommy come look at my girls loving me."

And still, my wife was having none of it. "Daddy, she shouldn't be having any fun right now,"she scolded me. There's a new sheriff in town and I find her incredibly attractive.

The post-shower routine was done so we said, "ok, off to bed." I joked to my wife that it was only 7pm...what are we going to do with ourselves? Bedtime is usually 8 or 8:30.

The peanut stopped us on our way to her room and said, "I want to race." The last thing we do every night is 'race' from our bedroom to hers. She usually wins. I sometimes make sure she doesn't just to keep her honest. But tonight, no race. No nothing. Except my wife, the new sheriff, reminding her, "you didn't eat your eggplant remember?"

She started crying. We put her into her bed. My wife hugged her and explained it to her once again. And she actually understood. She got it. She was bad. She didn't listen. She didn't eat her eggplant (she called it disgusting in fact).

I hugged and kissed her too and said, "let's just do better tomorrow, ok?" And she shook her head yes while fighting off the remainder of the tears.

We shut the door thinking we did the right thing. But then why does it feel so lousy? Because making the right decisions doesn't always feel right. Did we make the right decision? Even when you think you did, your child will still be miserable and you will still feel like crap.

That's parenting.

Now I worry about what to do with the three other eggplants ripening in the garden...


  1. Aww i definitely think you did the right thing mate without a shadow of a doubt, she should have at least tried it before dismissing it but hehe kids will be kids ;)
    I must be a hard man since whenever i punish the kids i feel no remorse for it, my wife on the other hand wants to run back into the bedroom and grab the kid in question and cuddle him until he turns blue but hehe i guess i get to be bad copy :)

  2. Thanks, Ben. We were proving a point. But sometimes you just don't know which points to prove, ya know? I think we did the right thing too. Not like she was traumatized or anything.

  3. absolutely right. you were firm but still loving.

  4. I think if more parents held their ground like you both did we would all be better off. Noone died and you loved her every step of the way.

  5. Hahaha. "No one dies." Nice one, Cat. Holding your ground is tough when the easy thing to do is just give in.

  6. One bite is not too much to ask, at all. Rule here is 1 bite per year of age (That way I have wiggle room..I demand that the 6 year old eat SIX bites, but if he eats 2 I can be "nice" and let him go..I'm shady like that)

    Thing is, once you set consequences you have to stick to them. That's why I make my "threats" either VERY dramatic "If you don't stop hitting your sister with that light saber, I'm going to set it on fire in the yard, melt it down, and make homework out of it!" or very realistic, things I can follow through on.

    You followed through! Good job!

  7. We are struggling with this with my 4-yr-old boy/girl twins. I am usually the good cop, except when it comes to this issue of TRYING the new food. Then, I become a total hardass - much more severe than your wife. But if they at least try it, and still do not like it, I never force them to eat anything. There are so many delicious and healthy foods out there, and we are so fortunate to have access to them year-round, that I cannot imagine making them eat something they didn't like. If anyone forced me to eat okra, for example, I would have them arrested.

  8. Well, Mary, we had committed... so we dug in our heels. It had become more of a behavior thing... she wasn't listening. It was tough though.

  9. Well she'll hate eggplant for the rest of her life, but it's obvious you two LOVE those kids. ; )


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