It was the best of times *UPDATED*

But it was the worst of times for poor Mackenzie.

Today Scott blessed Caitlyn during our church service. All new babies receive a name and a blessing and it’s a special event for the whole family. We dressed her in the dress my grandma made for me when I was born, and it’s the same dress Mackenzie wore for her baby blessing.

Caitlyn was sweet and peaceful during the blessing and fell asleep in Scott’s arms for the remainder of the service.

The ability to take good photos straight out of the camera still eludes me, but here’s what I managed to get this time:

A little grin:

But she saved the big guns for when my camera settings were off and the photo turned out way dark:

The Worst of Times

So why was it the worst of times for Mackenzie? Well, last night marked the beginning of The Food Throwdown of 2010. We have not yet seen the end, as of 6:30 PM on Sunday night.

It started innocently enough… she refused to eat her small portion of last night’s dinner so I told her (as per our policy) that she wouldn’t have any other food after dinner and that she would be served the same portion to eat at breakfast before she could have Sunday waffles.

Well, come morning-time she held her ground. I ate piping hot sourdough waffles smothered with smashed strawberries and she hardly batted an eye. She wouldn’t touch her (seriously four bites) serving of leftovers.

She sat at the table while we got ready for church and at the appointed hour we put her dress on her and piled in the car.

Normally I would have a little bit of conflict about my child going to church hungry but the situation was thus:

– The food was not spicy at all, and is absolutely something she typically enjoys eating. Even if it was gross, I think four bites is reasonable but we are talking delicious here: Scrambled eggs (a rare treat in our house) with garlic, onion, green bell pepper, fresh tomato and spinach. Mackenzie normally scarfs a meal like that.
– We had drawn a line in the sand: No other food until you finish what you’re served. I knew backing down wouldn’t help anybody in the long run, though it would have made the day easier on her parents for sure.
– It was a case of willful disobedience. When I was reiterating our house rules to her at one point “You need to eat what you’re served politely, etc.” she looked me square in the eye and said “I’m not hungry for anything you serve me.”

And so there we were, hauling an emotional, legitimately hungry nearly-3-year-old to church to sit quietly for an hour. It went surprisingly well, but we decided to cut out before nursery. Nursery would have meant pulling her out for snacktime and I was confident at home she’d gobble up the dreaded scramble and we’d be done with this. Missing nursery in itself should have been a huge deal, but she appeared unphased. That should have been a warning flag to me, but I was soon to see The Throwdown was on.

I was pretty occupied feeding and photographing Caitlyn when we got home while Scott handled the scramble eating and naptime, so I’m not privy to the particulars but the short story is no scramble was eaten before naptime.

While she slept, we made a decision that all other activity for her would be suspended until she ate her food. She needed to sit at the table and finish what was on her plate before playing.

And there she sat.

And there she sits.

Three and a half hours and counting.

Girlfriend has tenacity. Nerves of steel. I have to begrudgingly admire her willpower, though it’s quietly killing me to watch her go hungry when there’s plenty of food to be had.

I have found this to be true: You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink.

Anybody else been through this and lived to tell the tale? Anybody think we’re crazy (or cruel) to stick it out?

*UPDATED TO ADD:*

She caved at 7:45pm. The homemade tamales Scott and I were chowing on proved too tempting. She ate her leftover bites and moved on to bigger and better things. She’s asleep now with a full stomach. We’re relieved but already a bit worried about the teenage years.*Gulp*

I do want to remember the moment that really broke our hearts tonight, though: As we finally finished dinner, I asked Mackenzie what she wanted me to write on her leaf for our thankful tree. Her sincere reply? “Scramble, Mama. And tamales.”

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About beanland

Scott is a family practice doctor and Anne is a full-time mother and teacher to three beautiful girls and one boy.
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11 Responses to It was the best of times *UPDATED*

  1. denise says:

    wow! you are strong. She is stong. Be sure to let us know how this drama unfolds.

    beautiful pictures of your little caitlyn!

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  2. Liz says:

    LOL. What an entertaining (and heart wrenching) story. I know the willpower you speak of. One word: AUDREY. That girl is going to give us a run for our IVF money when she’s a teenager.

    I think the biggest mistake parents make is not following through with what they say. It’s so common. So kudos to you for sticking it out (I know from experience how painful it is, esp when it involves kid hunger).

    Like

  3. Heather J says:

    I am Heather Carter’s friend in Charlotte and I think we would have a lot in common to talk about if we lived in the same city–food choices and stubborn first-born daughters to name the top 2. Just this past Saturday we had the same issue and she went to bed hungry (not the first time…or the last I’m sure). I firmly believe that sticking to your guns does teach the correct principles, although it’s not very fun in the moment. I do my best to separate the behavior/her decision from our relationship so as much as possible, she learns her own consequences without blaming me. It’s tricky, but I try to focus on the long-term. I really admire your honesty and your sharing of the “Other Moms” article as a link from your list.

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    • beanland says:

      Hey Heather! Oooh it does sound like we would have lots to talk about. Thanks for your perspective.

      That is a really good thing to keep in mind: separating her decision and the resulting consequences from our relationship. It’s easier to do in some situations than others!

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  4. annapackard says:

    Wow, I really admire your will and consistency! I felt so sorry for you to have to battle that out with her! How anxious you must have felt, wondering when WILL MY DAUGHTER EAT!?! If I were faced with that situation, I probably would’ve caved and then set off a negative chain reaction of Hailee ruling the roost! However, if I had been in your situation, I would probably change the consequence. I would make it a consequence that involved removing a privilege or something like that. For example, “you didn’t finish your dinner? That’s too bad you made that decision because now you are going straight to bed.” That way you can enforce a consequence and avoid a showdown all together! You could feel good about being consistent but relieve yourself of the anxiety associated with battling wills with your willful daughter (and worrying about when she’ll eat next)! That’s just my thoughts. Not looking forward to the day when Hailee and I face off. 🙂

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    • beanland says:

      Hey Anna,

      Thanks for weighing in. As painful as they are, I think the occasional showdown is necessary (at least with Mackenzie).

      I thought about your solution and I just don’t think it would work for her. We don’t use going to bed as a negative consequence, but my guess is that pretty much any negative consequence would get weighed against her desire not to eat the food in front of her at a given meal and she would just decide which was the worse fate. Our goal is to teach her to eat what’s in front of her (not be picky) and do it politely. I could see how being impolite would garner an immediate negative consequence, but the pickiness (in my opinion) is only solved by consistently eating what you’re served. If she decided an early bedtime was preferable to green beans, she’d never learn to like ’em! 😉

      Maybe Hailee is different… every child is, I’m already learning!

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  5. Kimberlie says:

    I have a 17 year old daughter. Choosing your battles and sticking to your guns early in life makes the teenage years enjoyable, not worse! They all go through the phases where they test you to see who is the boss, and if you aren’t going to be then they will take over! Being firm on issues that are important to you (mine was safety on the neighbors trampoline – UGH!) will actually make these stand offs happen LESS frequently. 🙂

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  6. Maya says:

    FWIW, your story sounded just like me at Mackenzie’s age. My will, however, outlasted my parents’. Although I certainly liked it then and for a long time after (I cooked many of my own meals), I wish my parents had stuck to their guns. I would have been introduced to many different types of foods earlier in life, rather than starting to experiment with food in college. I wouldn’t punish a child for being full, because it’s important for kids to learn their hunger cues, but requiring politeness and for them to finish the food at another time seems extremely reasonable to me. Also, I like that your punishment fits the “crime.” Discipline doesn’t do its job if the consequences aren’t related to the actions.

    Eating is something we’re trying to figure out with Miles now. He’s becoming sensitive to certain textures and refuses to eat them, so we’re experimenting with figuring out what those are, how to fill their place, and trying to negotiate ways to re-introduce them without causing him discomfort. (Sometimes I can’t tell what’s a sensory issue and what’s him trying to pull a fast one on me by just being picky.)

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    • beanland says:

      Ooh yeah that would be tough with sensory issues thrown in. If it helps, even though Mackenzie is generally not picky, she absolutely went through phases in which certain textures were less desirable. When we ran into that, we tended to just work around it (a few bites of that food but make sure the whole meal wasn’t gross to her) and the phases ended eventually. Probably just her being picky, but I tried to respect that and give her options while still requiring her to politely finish a small portion of the objectionable stuff. At almost three she hasn’t had texture issues in maybe a year now? I don’t really remember but it may be something totally typical that he just grows out of. You can hope, right?

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  7. Pingback: My Three Year Old Can Read « Adventures in Beanland

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