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Posts Tagged ‘dinner’

Over dinner tonight:

T: I have a special treat for after dinner.

L: What is it??

T: I’ll give you a hint. It rhymes with upcake.

L: Chocolate? I love chocolate!!

T: No, L. It rhymes with upcake. It’s a kind of cake.

L: Chocolate cake? Sometimes cake is up, and sometimes cake is down. Is it chocolate cake?


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I had this nice idea to pick T up from work, get a pizza and head to the playground to enjoy what might just be the most beautiful evening of the year. The weather was amazing. Not hot. Not cool. Just right. Pizza ordered, drinks, napkins etc packed, T picked up at 5PM on the nose, swing by pizza place and head to the park. Sounds great, right?

We’re not the only ones with this idea. (Well, we may be the laziest. The park was dotted with other families with picnic dinners but no one else carrying in a pizza box.) I noticed all the other families having this lovely time together and I felt great to be among them. This is what having little kids is all about. The park was peaceful, even quiet. We couldn’t hear the other families’ voices from where we sat. Even at the playground, where several kids were playing, the only sounds were a squeaky swing and the lilt of small voices at play.  There were no parental voices shouting out commands, threats and directives. Except mine. I’m that loud lady who ruined your picnic.

L was too excited by the playground to even consider the pizza. He ran laps around the whole thing and was up and down off of each climbing structure so many times we couldn’t keep track of him. And, as he passed any other child, he carefully aimed and fired his finger gun in their face while making that fucking annoying shooting sound that seems to be genetically encoded in the y-chromosome.

Loud voice: “L! Stop shooting the other children! There is to be no more shooting!”

I should have been more specific. I needed to actually list all things that there should be none of. Because he did listen and stopped shooting, and instead started throwing Spidey webs in the children’s faces with another annoying y-chromosome sound effect.

“L! Come here please! …. Come.Here.Now.”

He comes and I explain that he is not to do any annoying thing in any child’s face. He is not to make mean faces; he is not to growl; he is not to shoot anything, including, but not limited to, guns and webs. And, if he’s smart, he’ll sit down and eat some pizza because there will be no more food tonight.

He doesn’t sit down but by the time I’m done explaining all of this to him the other parents have corralled their kids to a separate, far away, part of the playground nowhere near the picnic table where we’ve set up camp.

The other things I shouted out during our time in the park include:

“You’re going to go to bed hungry!” (Which elicited some surprised dirty looks from the lovely couple escorting their sweet, somewhere-between-14-and-16-month-old out of the park.)

“Whatever that is, stop putting your hand in it!”

“Stop putting your foot in it too!”

“I mean it about no more food tonight!”

“This pizza is dinner, and if you don’t eat dinner there will be no snack, no dessert, no food at all.”

“That’s not your phone, put it down please!”

“That’s still not your phone!”

You see, I was sitting at the picnic table having dinner. I was not going to run after L at the park in order to tell him these things in a conversational voice. Dinner time is a time to sit and eat and if he chooses not to, it’s his (stupid) decision and he will just miss out on the meal. So, I had to be a little louder than all the polite people in the park with their sweet, polite children.

One day, I want to be one of them. I want to be the one having a really good time with my family. Not just a time where there were some OK moments, maybe a good moment or two, mixed in with a lot of frustration and embarrassment. L can be so sweet and friendly or he can shoot kids in the face, and I really can’t predict which L I’ll get. Will he be fun L, or scary psychopath L?

In the end he never did eat any pizza. He cried the entire way home, and went to bed hungry. Guess who won’t be ruining your picnic again any time soon?

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Day 2 of the New Approach: I would have thought I’d be embarrassed about getting really pissed off at L in front of other people, but, as it turns out, I find it more embarrassing to try to reason with him, in gentle tones, while he’s behaving monstrously. Today I was interviewing a potential new sitter. It was 4:30 PM. (My theory is to have the sitters come in at prime-time just to see what happens. I can usually tell in nanoseconds if I like this person or not. If they look at me like a deer in headlights when runs up to them and L asks “What’s your number?” instead of just saying something like “234, what’s yours?” then I know they are not the sitter for me.)

So, in walks C, potential new sitter. She seems calm and yogic. (Is that a word?) She is also cute and a college student, L’s type, so he puts on all his “charm.” This means jumping on the couch alternately with just banging his head on the couch, on me, on the floor and attempted bangs on C all while shouting something or other about jumping and banging. He is not giving a very good first impression from an adult perspective. Who knows? Maybe from a 3-year-old perspective he’s hot stuff? Anyway, my self as of 2 days ago would have firmly warned, threatened and then forcibly dragged L away to a time out. But this is the new Allison. So instead, I gently pull L to me, look him in the eye and ask calmly, “Do you feel like we’re not paying enough attention to you? Is that way you’re acting this way?” I feel like a limp fish.

Our interactions continue in this vein. He acts like a wild person and I calmly try to guess at his motives and put them into words for him. I let him know that I understand how frustrating it must be for him, and promise him my undivided attention in a few minutes when C leaves. Limp.Fish.

Instead of a timeout, I offer him to go upstairs and spend some time with his blankie to help him calm down. Limp.Fish.

Eventually, I do carry him to a timeout. But I never raise my voice. I use this totally foreign quiet calm voice.

Meanwhile I’m just imagining that all C can think is that it’s no small wonder my kid is such a wild brat, and that I’m some new-agey mom who tries to reason with a maniac instead of just doling out consequences.

But I didn’t yell. So that’s a win, right? Even more winning, we then went out to dinner. This is something we NEVER do. I hate being in a restaurant with L. I packed toys, cool ones, and reviewed  proper restaurant behavior in the car. He was bratty, loud, and rude and kept escaping the booth by crawling under the table to run around the restaurant, knowing that I couldn’t (wouldn’t) chase him because I would stay with the baby (the very good baby). But I  never raised my voice. I did all that ridiculous limp-fish stuff instead. I felt like the most ineffectual parent ever and imagined harsh judgments coming from everyone in the restaurant.

So, that was today. I guess I have to get used to this new thing in order to not feel so foolish doing it. Anyway, the limp fish techniques certainly didn’t produce worse results than my former bribe/punish/reward and yell techniques. And I don’t feel like the world’s worst mom afterward, so that’s a plus! To be completely honest, even though L was giving me some of his best (worst), the situations did not escalate like they normally do. We did not reduce ourselves to yelling on my part and name calling, hitting, kicking, spitting, screaming on his. So maybe this really works?

Normally, after an evening like that, I’d be stewing in anger and guilt right now. I’d hate myself, hate L, hate everything. But right now I feel fine, despite the residual limp fish aftertaste. In the end, I’d rather be a limp fish than a guilt-ridden bitch!

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So far so good! I have not raised my voice today. The evening went so much better than usual! I said no to pre-dinner snacking; I said no to alternative dinner ideas; I gave a bath to L and S together which means no bubbles for L and a much shorter bath. All this, no fighting. In fact, I was extra nice. I let him “win” by allowing him to go outside and run up and down the driveway barefoot, while I stayed inside. He then easily came in when I asked him to! I got him a new book, and instead of bribing him to behave with promises of receiving the book, I didn’t even tell him about it until I gave it to him at bedtime. “Why did I get a new book, Mommy? Because I so good?” “No, just because I saw it and thought that you’d like it and it’s fun to get a new book sometimes.” (Prior to this, all gifts seemed to be attached to bribes or rewards.)

So, either L was in an exceptionally good mood, he’s turned a corner and is now a “good boy,” or this non-yelling stuff has something to it. Granted, he did not present me with any major challenges. He did almost put a key into S’s ear, but I didn’t yell. Nor did I yell at his rather aggressive displays of affection towards S. He did have numerous suggestions for alternate dinners, but I didn’t yell. He did resist going potty, but I didn’t yell. And then, the resistance sort of stopped. He acquiesced instead. He complied! It was like a whole different child.

“Can I have bubbles, pleeeeeaaaase?

“No, Honey, because it’s not good for the baby.”

“OK.”

What??????? I’m feeling pretty good. But today was a good day for him all around. He was in a nice mood. Come on, tomorrow, let’s see what you’ve got!

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Weird Crap Dinners

Tonight for dinner I fed my kids some weird crap. I do that a lot. About half the time I manage to make a normal, proper meal. The other half is either some frozen meal-wonder from Trader Joe’s or pizza, or some weird concoction. Any which way, L happily eats what I put in front of him. I am so lucky.

For all of the difficulties and challenges L presents me with daily, eating is one area where he’s always been great. And his sister seems to be heading right down the same path. Tonight she also ate the weird crap, but hers was even weirder as it was mixed with apple sauce.

What is this weird crap, you ask?

Every concoction has the same basic principles:

  • it’s stuff I have in my pantry, freezer or fridge;
  • it’s something that can be made in no time often while holding a baby;
  • it has nutritive value;
  • all components cook together and are served together for minimal dish washing.

So, tonight’s concoction was made of the following items: a can of kidney beans, whole wheat tortillas, brown rice (Trader Joe’s frozen variety – my favorite thing ever!); mozzarella cheese. WTF can a person make with those ingredients? It turns out, a not half bad number which I called a quesadilla.

It’s all about marketing. “Want a super really yummy quesadilla?” Sold!

For S, I skipped the cheese and tortilla and just mashed the beans a bit and mixed with rice. I could have stopped there, but I have a ton of baby purees that she won’t eat, that I’m determined to use up, so I added in some apple sauce. Voila, a perfect meal for a baby. I put some whole beans on her tray as finger food while I cooked L’s, then spoon fed her my concoction. Both my kids happily eating this very odd dinner. L declares, “You good chef, Mommy!” And I reply in all honesty, “You are a great eater, L.”

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