Wednesday, January 18, 2012

I'll Give You a Million Dollars if You Eat that Broccoli

Before I became a parent, I had lofty expectations for myself as a mother. Many of said expectations did not simply go out the window; rather, they were tossed hastily at a closed window because I did not have time to open it.

“My children will not watch TV until they are at least two.”  Except that Dora the Explorer is the greatest house-cleaning-time babysitter. “My children will never sleep in bed with us.” Except that at 2:00 a.m., after the baby has been up at 11:00, 12:00 and 1:00, this is the best idea ever. “My children will not be bribed or threatened at the table.” Except that actually happens every single day.

Trying to get my kids to eat is a marathon wrapped in an ulcer. Between the preschooler, who takes 45 minutes to eat two bites of chicken, and the toddler, who shovels with one hand and smears in his hair with the other, I am amazed that they get anything in their bellies at all.

Paranoid visions of sickly children with low iron because they never consumed any green vegetables have driven me to desperate behaviors. If there are any treats in the house, I bribe. “Look, honey, a cookie! Only three more bites of asparagus!” Suddenly, eating those greens is a mission conducted by unrecognizably motivated kids. Cookie is consumed, but then, so are the greens.

Threats I like even less. But (here comes the justification) my sanity is at stake. I threaten bedtime, loss of toys and privileges, calling of Santa Claus, and the one the preschooler hates most: the kitchen timer. Most of the time, they eat, but when I have to follow through with the threats, I think I can confidently say that I am up for Meanest Mommy Ever Award.

I am a different mother than I thought I would be. I did not know how wonderful and challenging it would be. I certainly did not know how something as simple and relaxing as dinnertime could put me so quickly on the road to Crazytown, where I can be rescued only by the un-lofty dangling of cookies and kitchen timers.

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