Friday, August 26, 2005

Struggles of the Day

The past few days I’ve discovered I have a very low tolerance for children who do not finish their food. It would be one thing if I gave Melissa a big plate of squash and she didn’t eat it all. It’s another thing if she pours herself a bowl of cereal (sugar cereal that she picked out at the grocery store, I might add) and then eats only half of it. And this is the third day in a row that’s happened. In fact, I don’t think she’s finished anything I’ve given to her the entire time she’s been here.

I’m trying to be understanding of the fact that Melissa is in a different environment and she’s also missing my mom. But I’m having a hard time with it. She’s also been sick and is just now recovering. So I know she deserves a little more grace ‘cuz of that, too.

Today, when I saw that Melissa had poured herself a heaping bowl of Cinnamon Toast Crunch, and an equally healthy serving of milk to go with it, I told her that she was expected to eat all of it. She nodded her head in agreement. A half hour later, I noticed that she’d abandoned her cereal bowl and it was still halfway full. At the time, she was sitting on the couch watching Little House on the Prairie. I took her the bowl of cereal and told her that she would have to finish it. At the end of the program, I walked back in the room and noticed that it was still sitting on her lap, untouched. I reminded her, again, that she was going to have to eat it … all of it. She looked up at me with her beautiful brown eyes and said, “But I don’t like soggy cereal.”

“And whose fault is it that it’s soggy?” I replied. “C’mon, take a bite. Eat it now.”

About 45 minutes later, the status quo remained. By now the milk was entirely warm and the cereal had practically disintegrated into the milk.

I could have taken the hard line with her, again, but I decided to give her a little slack … at least for this one (last) time. “Melissa, if you promise me that, for the rest of the time you’re here, you will eat every bite and every sip of what I give you, then I’ll let you toss your cereal. Or what used to be cereal.” Her eyes lit up at this compromise.

[Maybe I’m just a wuss. Maybe I should’ve made her eat it. I don’t know. It’s hard to know what to do sometimes. Anyway, we’ll see how it goes … and if she lives up to her end of the bargain.]

Now she’s taking a bath. That was an ordeal too. She didn’t want to wash her hair because “it’s too hard to wash hair.” I offered to wash it for her but she didn’t want me to do it.

“You mean you’re going to go an entire two weeks without washing your hair?” I asked.

“Yes,” she replied.

I told her that was unacceptable and that she would have to do it anyway, regardless of how hard it is.

Sigh …

As much fun as we’re having together, I hope that these few moments of conflict each day don’t make Melissa hate me forever. That must be how parents feel when they are forced to discipline their children – they know it’s for the ultimate good, but it’s hard.

I told Kevin yesterday that I’m not ready to be the parent of an eight year old. Now I know why God allows us to start out with a baby … and take it one phase at a time!


Anonymous said...

I usually don't allow my kids to help themselves to food without my approval of the volume. If they are still hungry afterward, you can always give them more. Just a thought.

Kevin & Amy said...

Yeah, well, I generally would do that. The problem is that my sibs usually get up before me and, especially when I'm caring for Meredith, I let them get their own cereal.

Thanks for the advice, though - I definitely welcome it. I'm still really green when it comes to this mommy business.

the Joneses said...

I think you're keeping the right perspective with Melissa: she's been sick, she misses your mom, and she is, after all, only your sister, not your daughter. Obviously there are some rules to enforce, but it's not up to you to see that she's raised properly for a mere two weeks! Also, I seriously doubt she'll hate you for making and keeping some rules, just like Meredith won't, either.

Amen about taking parenting in stages, though! Some women can take on an eight-year-old child immediately (my friend married a man with a daughter) but others of us like to ease into it more slowly. :)

-- SJ

the Joneses said...

Oh, another thought -- you may could give Melissa a measuring cup (half a cup or so) and tell her to use it for the cereal and milk.

-- SJ

Anonymous said...

I so agree on starting with babies and working your way up. It seems every stage is so much fun and can't get better and it does! Yet all along the way you establish boundaries and work with one another on enforcing limits. Harder when someone walks in and you have to establish these things on the fly. Your sibs will remember the memories with you more than the rules. Just for future reference though, someone once gave me sage advice about never making food an issue. Do whatever it takes to make it smooth but don't make meals an argument. I agree with Sara. Try the measuring cup. Unless it is a cost issue, a little lost cereal and milk is not worth the heartache it will cause you. Sounds like this is a daily habit for her and you aren't going to change that in two weeks! Enjoy! - geni PS> Love the pictures of baby Meredith! What a sweetie :)