Monday, November 14, 2011
I don’t want to be the yelling dad. I hate it when I raise my voice at Elijah, and to a hugely lesser extent, Luca. When I turn into Mad Dad I instantly regret it and feel like I’ve failed as a parent.
Which brings me to yesterday lunch.
I mentally agreed with myself earlier in the weekend to approach any and all Elijah frustrations with a Zen-like calm. Kill ‘im with kindness, I say.
I tested this approach by making both boys some of the grossest risotto in the history of the world for lunch. Before you think I am some kind of gourmet, it came from a bag, adding to its grossness. I tasted the orange (roasted butternut squash!) goo and immediately knew neither boy would consume more than a bite of it. But I was determined to expose them to food beyond macaroni and cheese, so I demanded they both eat one full spoonful before I would make them pizza.
Luca ate his spoonful with utter glee and then dumped the entire contents onto the floor for Grover. This kept Mad Dad at bay because, yes, he did technically eat one bite. Grover loved it, by the way.
Elijah took one look at the orange goo, made all the more disgusting by the fact I served it in an orange bowl, and retreated to the couch.
I quickly followed and explained the situation. He would need to eat one full bite of food in order to eat any other food for the rest of his life. Simple.
“I don’t feel good.” He made a little hugging gesture around his waist.
“Nice try. Get in there and eat one bite. Then I will make you delicious, non orange goo pizza.” I felt pretty good. He was being obstinate and whiny, but I felt completely in control.
I calmly explained non-eating would result in me calling off our planned visit to see his cousins.
“No you are not. Get. In. There. And Eat.” I could feel my skin turning slightly green, hulk style. But unlike David Banner, I took a deep breath and calmed down.
Rather than continue the fight on the couch, I gathered Eli up and gently placed him on his chair in front of the goo.
“One bite. That’s all I ask. Please. Then you can have a pound of pizza.”
This went back and forth for a few rounds. And then I snapped like a cheap rubber band.
“Go sit on the steps!” I bellowed. I loudly proclaimed that Eli was not getting another bite of food until dinner and no one, not mommy, not Luca, not Grover, was allowed to feed him under penalty of getting some of the same yelling at Eli was experiencing.
Elijah sat on the stairs and cried. I angrily told him he was being a bad boy and was making me furious. Eli cried harder.
Eventually, I dumped the disgusting risotto down the drain and sulked. Elijah eventually came off the steps without eating and went until dinner with no additional food.
Turns out he was, in fact, sick. As a dog. As evidenced by his raging fever and stomach cramps that came on at 10pm last night.
As I smoothed his sweaty hair away from his forehead, I felt like I earned an F minus as a dad and I asked him for forgiveness. He did not grant me this. Or that’s what I could gather from his moans.
So I’ll simply attempt to raise my grade to a D this next weekend.