Charlie learned a lesson last night. She learned that if she refuses to eat her dinner, make a vocal claim that she’s not going to eat her food, hit Daddy and continue to refuse to come out of her room and eat dinner, she’s not going to get birthday cake. We were at her Nonna’s, and all of this happened. It was long and drawn out and we gave her plenty of opportunities to eat her food so she’d be able to eat cake. Papa even invited her to sit on his lap and blow out his candles and she did, but continued asking for cake, with refusal to eat her dinner.
The night ended in tears and sobbing and when we got home, going to bed was very disappointing, but necessary for all, as it was late. It was here, that I sat with Charlie in her bed and was finally able to get through to her.
Up until this point, she kept saying, over and over again, “But I want cake. I don’t know what it tastes like. I… want… cake!” She refused to acknowledge that you must eat dinner before you can have dessert. Everyone at the table who had cake, ate their dinner. We eat dinner first because it has all the vitamins and nutrients we need to function in a healthy way and be strong and grow. Dessert is just a treat that comes at the end, that’s how it’s always been and that’s how it always will be. I told her, “I wouldn’t be a good parent if I let you eat cake and not eat your dinner, that would make you unhealthy.” I thought she understood and acknowledged that by the look in her eye, but then the defiance continued in the car, with wails of unfairness and wanting cake.
So, as we lay in her bed, I tell her that I was just as disappointed as she was. We all were. We all wanted her to have cake, and that is why we would say to her, as she was excluding herself in the other room, “How about you just come out and sit at the table with us and eat what you can.”
She had refused all of our kind gestures for her to take deep breaths and just join in dinner and eat what she can.
I told her that Mommy and Daddy can’t make her eat her food but we can make suggestions for her to listen to that which would help her get what she wants. She understood that, and so did. We both understood that we can’t make her do anything but we have to follow rules too and we can help guide her along the path as best as we can but it’s ultimately up to her and we can’t change the rules when they’re not what she wants them to be.
I said to her, in her bed, “I’m an adult and I have a lot of choices to make and some of them are not easy and sometimes things happen and they’re not always good.”
She says, very sincerely, “Like, with cake.”
I laughed and thought for a minute and replied, “No, when you’re an adult, the bad stuff is most of the time not about cake. As an adult, cake is almost all of the time, a good thing.”
It’s other stuff, I tell her, like having to fix the kitchen, go to work, have a car that breaks down, things like that which happen and we have to deal with.
Lesson learned… Mommy and Daddy say what they mean and mean what they say. Choices have consequences, and eating dinner is how we grow healthy.
And Charlie, no matter what happens, no matter how much you grow up and grow out and grow away and come home again… no matter how tough things get or how big we think things have become, let’s never forget… always be reminded…. it’s just a piece of cake.