The threes are the new terrible twos. Ok, ok, it’s not terrible. At least it isn’t for me because I may have won the toddler lottery with one of the more behaved children on the planet.
But that’s not to say that Grace hasn’t been testing her boundaries lately. Fatherhood surprised me by allowing me to discover that I have the patience of Job, but even I have my limits. Tonight was the first (I’m sure of many) of Mexican standoffs between G and me.
We stared at each other over the dinner table and the quickly cooling ravioli and I decided I wasn’t going to bend this time. With how well she speaks it’s sometimes hard to remember that she isn’t even 3 yet (one more month) but the defiant words coming out of her mouth could’ve come from a teenager. She just wasn’t going to eat her dinner and had no trouble telling me that fact.
Mental process: Was this my fault? Did I give her too many snacks before dinner? No. Check. Is this something she doesn’t like to eat and I’m forcing it? No. She requested it and usually inhales it. Check. Had she eaten enough of it to constitute a full belly? Not even close.
So, I ate mine in front of her and tried to show her how tasty it is. That resulted in a thrown fork, which then resulted in her first Time Out while still buckled to a booster seat. I make it a point to talk to her after every punishment to explain why she had to face a corner for 2 minutes. So after letting her know that silverware slinging doesn’t make for great table manners, I took another try at asking her to eat. No dice.
So, I got up and washed some dishes all the while explaining to her that she couldn’t get up until she cleaned her plate. (We really do become our parents). Still not budging. So, after the dishes I brought the laptop over to the dinner table and surfed while she stewed. More fidgeting. It was time for an “all in” bet.
Everything I’ve read says you have to be consistent and back up what you say when an ultimatum is being made. So, with my best poker face, I announced that if she didn’t finish her food, she would have to go to bed. She’s obviously got a little gambler in her because even that didn’t inspire any action. Not even a flinch towards a fork.
So, I got up from my seat to reach over and unbuckle her and take her up to bed (hoping against all hope this would work).
I’ve honestly never seen anyone eat ravioli that fast after I stood up. I actually had to tell her to slow down and chew her food. She even took a couple of bites of the veggies. Naturally, she then looked at me with her big brown eyes and said “Thank you, Daddy. That was yummy.” Heart sufficiently melted, we unbuckled and went upstairs for bath, books, and bed which all went smoother than a milkshake. (Which I’ll probably treat her to tomorrow…if she eats her dinner.)