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.
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!