Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Whaddaya Want for Breakfast? v.1

When I was pregnant with #1, I had grand and firm ideas about parenting. I would do thus-and-so. I never would do this-or-that. And, though the merciful heavens know that I don't like to judge, any parent who does such-and-such is clearly off the rails.

Fast-forward nearly five years, and I have managed some thus-and-so, but also fallen into some this-or-that, and have participated in an embarassing amount of such-and-such.  The reality of kids is just a different animal:

Eating in the car?
Before kids: "Never! Have some respect for the vehicle!"
After kids:  Cheerios everywhere.

Food bribes?
Before kids: "Pshaw! Those parents are smoking crack!"
After kids:  "If you're good for just five more minutes, just five, okay, two, okay, one, okay just put that down and we will have a treat at checkout."

Before kids:  "I will always make sure the child is decently dressed."
After kids: Have bodily carried into an airport carried a screaming, thrashing child wearing a Tinkerbell nightgown and no underwear. (In my defense, we managed to negotiate some coverage in the rental car return bay).

Lest any nonparents doubt, I am having an apple core shoved in my face as I type with the announcement, "Yook how much I ATE! Now YOOK how big my bey-ye [belly] is, do you see?" with a cheerful display of preschooler skin over the pajama waistband.

Yes, pajamas. And, yes, it's 4:30 p.m. I told her to change clothes after preschoool and she did. Pajamas are clothes, right?  I guess so.  I am not about to quibble over the choice of clothing. This is how low we go.

*** time warp to the following morning ***

But the ground I have held, and still hold, is the one marked with the big neon sign that says I Am Not Running a Restaurant Here. This morning provides a perfect example. I am cracking eggs into a bowl and I ask He'en if she wants White American or Cheddar in her eggs.*

Mom: "Would you like White American or Cheddar?"
He'en: "Um, I wan' a dip-dip egg in-stead."

"Dip-dip egg" = over easy. Unfortunately for He'en, I had already started to scramble the eggs in the bowl.

Mom: "Sorry, sweetie, I am making scrambled today. But you can pick your cheese."
He'en: [welling up] "But! But! But I really wannnn-ed a dip-dip egg!"
Mom: "Tomorrow you may have dip-dip egg. Today is scrambled."
He'en: [spilling over] "But I wan'ned it to-DAY!"
Mom: "Yesterday you were very upset that you didn't have raisin bran. So this morning you have raisin bran. In the same way, I will make you a dip-dip egg tomorrow."
He'en: [unable to speak through stormy fake sobs]
Mom: [wearily] "Go ahead to your room until you can get ahold of yourself, honey."
Foley: little feet trotting off, then a fair SLAM of a bedroom door.

I continue scrambling eggs, with White American cheese, because that sounds sorta good to the Mama this morning. After a decent interval, I hear a rustle from the living room.

From the living room:
He'en: [cough, cough]

In the kitchen:
Mom: [scramble scramble]

He'en: [cough, cough]
Mom: [scramble scramble]
He'en: [cough, cough]
Mom: [scramble scramble]
He'en: [cough, cough]
Mom: [scramble scramble]

She blinks first and edges into the kitchen.

He'en: [cough cough] "Mom? I fink I am sick."
Mom: "Oh, you do? Too sick to eat breakfast?"
He'en: [clearing throat] "Yes. I fink I just need some med'cin."
Mom: "So no breakfast. Well, that's a shame, because I just dished you up some mandarin oranges."

This was straight-up dirty pool: mandarin oranges are her particular favorite. And, in this case, as they have so many times before, they triggered a miracle cure. Next frame: Happy He'en, cheerfully eating her mandarin oranges, raisin bran, and scrambled eggs with White American cheese.

It would really have been easier to just ask her, "What do you want for breakfast?" But, as I said, I'm not running a restaurant here.

*I know that some parents -- my own mother possibly among them -- would wonder if this choice of cheese, standing alone, gives too much leeway. But Sister says, and I agree, that a) kids need to practice making choices and living with consequences, and b) there is so little that a 4-year-old can control in her world that it's healthy for them to get choices whenever practical. Note those last two words: wherever practical. That means practical for me, the Mama.

No comments: