A reminder not to try to rationalize with the irrational, or why negotiating around food doesn't work and makes people crazy.
Scene: dinner. roast chicken on table, microwaved frozen peas, squash (roasted with the chicken with butter, brown sugar, salt) egg noodles with some reduction from the chicken...
Mom, Dad and 4 yo M are at the table. M, who has been home sick with little appetite for 5 days (who has been allowed to get away with all kinds of attitude to keep the peace) looks at squash (a former favorite)
M: Ew. It's gross, I hate squash.
Mom: You don't have to eat it or like it, but you need to be polite. Say, "No thank you." There are lots of other things.
Mom: (taking lots of peas) You guys don't want any peas, do you?
Dad: Yes, we do. Take a few scoops and pass them on please.
M: I'm hungry, there aren't enough peas! I hate squash!
Mom: We can make more peas. Dad, what was the best part of your day?
Mom is at end of rope, no longer engaging the explanation. M takes chicken, and more chicken. Asks where the eyes are, if the blood tastes good. Eats lots of peas, some noodles. Starts scooping squash onto her plate. Has clearly recovered her appetite. (Yay! Back to school tomorrow! thinks Mom)
M: singing, "I love squash, I love squash!"
spills water and cries, "You always make me clean this up!"
Dad: I will help you, please pick your fork up off the ground.
Mom: takes another swig of beer... and curtain falls
Imagine if I had tried to convince her that she loved squash and was being unreasonable. More or less fighting? Would she have eaten the squash or not?
Another example of the irrational games: Morning Star sausage patty this morning. M was having trouble cutting it, so Dad helped. She got upset because she wanted strips, not smaller pieces and pitched a mini-fit. We said we were trying our best. So half was in strips, half in pieces. Then she proceeded to cut the strips in half. Dad asks, "Why did you do that? You got upset when I cut it up?" M says, "It was too big for my mouth."
Remember, tiny crazy people, and they want to suck you into the insanity. Sometime the pull is so strong it's hard to resist, but the more you can stay neutral and out of the fray, the better you will do.
A note on feeding the sick child: We've been so out of our routine with M being sick. All bets are off. They can't tell if they are hungry or full. I try to follow her lead. I relax on the division of responsibility and ask her more what she wants to eat. I let her chose and I let her nibble and graze when she's under the weather. Her appetite returned and now we'll get back to the old ways. Structured meals and snacks, no grazing, and I chose what to serve, she choses if and how much to eat.
Just wanted to let you know it wasn't ALWAYS peace and joy at my family table :)
Any crazy theater you want to share?