- Ask Oliver what he would like for dinner
- Make what he asks for
- Fight over whether we are washing hands with soap and water or a baby wipe (his preference)
- Listen to him say he doesn't want what I have made
- Beg, cajole, threaten, and bribe him to eat
- Listen to him scream
- Listen to Eleanor scream in response
- Listen to him bang the table
- Listen to Eleanor bang her high chair
- (repeat previous four steps)
- (one more time, just for good measure)
- More begging and cajoling and threatening
Last night it became abundantly clear that no one is enjoying this and that I am being a total shrew about it. I had to take a step, or maybe six, back. In my head, food is not a battleground. The reality is so different. I am talking the talk but not walking the walk, and Oliver is calling me on it.
Then we made a plan.
I told Oliver I will no longer comment on what he chose to eat from his plate or how much. If I make what he asks for and doesn't eat it, oh well. There will be another meal in the morning. I will comment on table behavior I find unacceptable, but the shouting of, "Eat Oliver!" and the counting to get him to eat were over. On those rare occasions when dessert is available he will still need to eat a good dinner and "earn" dessert, but I will only remind him once during the meal.
Dinner tonight was darn near delightful, by comparison to last night. There was a little shouting and banging, but not too much. He did make one quick trip to the quiet stair, but it was, for the most part, without drama. Eleanor continues to mimic him, and he continues to find it funny while I continue to find it incredibly frustrating, but I have to let it go. They are feeding off my anger and that doesn't solve the problem.
This is one of those times, and they happen at least once a week, when I want to send a plane ticket to Canada. I want Mary P to watch over my shoulder and set me straight. I am going to start paying more attention to breakfast and try to figure out what is different. My hunch it is because he usually eats by himself, with Eleanor eating later. If that's the case, there isn't much I can do. He has to learn to eat with his family and to behave appropriately at the table. And I need to learn to take a few deep breaths and think twice before unleashing the shrew.