Thursday, October 09, 2008

The Showdown at 34 Months

Big is 34 months today. For those of you not good with math, let's just call it three, although I think Big'd be furious that he missed his birthday cake and presents, but that's a different story.

He is soft and lovable, funny and diligent, stubborn and wild. When you ask him about his day, he invariably says "We went to the Dells" referring to a trip we took in August for the grandparents' 50th wedding anniversary. He enjoys wearing "tony pails" in his hair, and wants a pink bike for his birthday.

And we had a HUGE showdown the other night.

I have a feeling that he and I will have to bump antlers once in a while just to release some tension.

Anyway, I've shifted my cooking toward the vegetarian as he still refuses meat and I'm sick of him eating only cheese, cottage cheese, fruit, beans and yogurt.

After a couple of especially made vegetarian meals with him simply refusing to eat,we got the book about dinosaurs and what they eat, and have spent some time on the page that shows the dino trying little bites of everything.

And then I made some delicious potato soup.

Still no eating.

Because I felt insulted* I decided that potato-night was the night that he had to be like the Stegosaurus and taste a tiny bit of his food. The potato soup.

We don't force our kids to do much. In fact, I have a deep belief that you really can't force your kids to do anything (try forcing your eight year old to NEVER have an accident or to not put too much sour cream on her burrito when you're not looking or etc. etc. etc. ). In true Alfie Kohn style, we try to get the preferred behavior to come from within them, so to speak.

So I'm not exactly sure where this came from other than that I was just SURE he'd love the soup if he just put a bit in his mouth!

Who wouldn't? It was just creamy, cheesy potato-y goodness!

Oh and salt. Salty goodness too.

I'm getting hungry even as I write this.

But no. He dug in his heels.

And I dug in mine.**

I resorted to positive reinforcement, tantalizing him with exquisite rewards: a family bike ride in the gloaming after dinner?


A back rub?


A bubble bath?

FINE: A banana split with whip cream and a cherry on top? All for one stinking lousy bite!!!???!!!

He would not eat it on a boat, with a fox or in the rain. He would not try that 'tato soup, oh what a PAIN!

Nothing. No, not nothing. I take that back. A bite in, and immediately out, squirting all over his face, shirt, table and floor.***

I resorted to the threat: No bike ride. . . . . An early bed time.


Finally, FINALLY, as I'm carrying him up the stairs to bed**** he relents, rushes back to the table, takes a bite and it's over. Sweet relief, we all hug and its off to the bike as though nothing had transpired between us at all.

I'll let you know how the Eggplant Parmesan goes.

*Note to self: this is never a good place from which to start disciplining your child.

**Second note to self: heel-digging is not the precursor to a good parenting moment. At least not post-1953.

***Thanks to Jane Yolen for giving him the idea with that ridiculous dinosaur and his half-chewed broccoli!

****Last and final note to self, carrying a child against his will is DEFINITELY NOT in the Alfie Kohn repertoire.

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