Parenting, It’s What’s for Dinner

Since turning four, Jules has been testing his limits. It’s been worse since starting school a few weeks ago. He’s still the sweet, caring little boy but every day we go to battle over dumb things like not wanting to get in the car, not wanting to eat dinner, just not wanting to participate in life. It’s annoying and it happens almost every night.

I’ll pick him up and he’s happy and excited to see me. I’m thinking, “Awesome! It’s gonna be a nice evening!” The second we get to the car, he throws his backpack at the car and he yells, “I don’t like you!!”

Damn! Good evening out the door. All I can do is try to turn it around before it escalates. (Technically, it escalated – zero to 99 in less than a minute but it can get worse.)

“Sounds like you have a bad attitude and I think you need to change it.”
A minute of silence goes by, “Do I still have bad attitudes?”

One day at pick-up, it went downhill before we even left the building and I wasn’t in the mood to negotiate him into changing his attitude. While he climbed in the car being rude about something, I unzipped his backpack to put paperwork in it and MYSTERY BOX!!!!

Oh thank heavens for the Mystery Box!

“JULES! Did you get the Mystery Box today!?”

Jules excitedly, “YES!!!! I’m so pleased I got it!!”

Mystery Box, you were a life saver that day. He had a great evening planning what he was going to put in the Mystery Box. (Every students gets to take it home, put something in it and write three clues. The next day the class has to guess what’s in the box using the clues.)

Some nights aren’t filled with Mystery Box excitement. We’re guaranteed to have drama at dinner. It’s what little kids do. They complain about what we’re eating. Then they complain they can’t have a treat. But Justin and I are firm with him. Until we’re not.

“Jules we’re eating. Come sit at the table.”

“I don’t like it.”

“Hmmm well that’s too bad because this is all we’re having.”

Starts to whine some more, “I’m not going to eat.” Covering his mouth.

Justin, “Then just go to your room.”

And Jules cries while walking to his room. He is very obedient that way.

Me, “That’s not an option Justin. This is non-negotiable. He needs to eat something.”

So we eat with Jules crying in the background. It’s not fun. And this happens almost every night. Justin and I are pretty solid teammates on most everything when it comes to the kids. But this is where we differ. Justin doesn’t want to hear any whining where I will spend a little time and energy to make the situation better. I’d rather have a nice, cry-free night and I know Justin would too, but Justin’s fuse is different (shorter?) than mine. I’m not perfect either. I get really antsy when there are a ton of toys on the floor – that’s where my fuse is different (definitely shorter). I want it picked up.

We’ll tell Jules to come back out and he sheepishly apologizes, sits down and negotiates what he’ll eat. At this point, we just want him to eat something. It doesn’t have to be everything on his plate. There are certain foods we know he doesn’t like so we don’t push those, but everything else he has to try. This we agree on.

Dinner can be exhausting some nights. But for us, it’s important that we 1) eat together and 2) he tries new foods. After such a fuss of not wanting to try something, he’ll eat it and we’ll ask, “So, how was it?” “It was GOOD!”





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