There are a lot of things about being a parent that will likely drive you to the brink of hair-pulling frustration. Trying to get an 18th month-old to stand still long enough for a diaper and outfit change can test the patience of a stone. And you know that stubbornness you pride yourself on? Yeah, well, apparently that’s a dominant genetic thing that most definitely wiggles its way down to your kids. Which means, of course, that no matter how many times you tell your self-assured offspring to quit bickering about who ate the last freaking Double-Stuf cookie last night, they aren’t going to give up on the argument until someone is proven correct. Or a fight breaks out.
Which is how you find yourself, at 39 years old, uttering seemingly incoherent interjections like, “Aaaah”, “zzzzi”, “ohhhp”, “naaaah”, and “shhh” while standing in front of a pair of kids, each with a face screwed up in self-righteous indignation, to keep them from getting out That. One. Last. Argument.
For the record, I’m pretty sure all my kids are going into litigation of some form or another.
All the other frustrations of parenthood, though, pale in comparison to the nightmares that can be visited upon you at the…
Duh, duh, duh.
In the first part of his classic epic poem, Inferno, Dante outlines the nine circles of Hell. But if you ask me, and probably any other parent who’s ever attempted to get an obstinate three-year old to eat at least some portion of dinner, the First Circle, the Limbo circle, is almost certainly populated with nothing but children with sealed steel-trap mouths and lukewarm plates of spaghetti. Oh, yeah, and the poor, tortured souls trapped there until they manage to get a kid to eat something.
Which is exactly how I felt last night.
The Attitude, who thankfully is becoming less, well, attitude-y, as he gets older announced last night, after idly pushing a few noodles around his plate, “I done, Daddy. I be escoosed, please?”
The kid gets points for politeness, of course, but in general, left to his own devices, he’d live on cheese sandwiches and applesauce.
And so, being the theoretically grown-up in our relationship, I decreed he must eat four bites before he could withdrawal from dinner.
You’d have thought I demanded he kill a newborn chick barehanded.
For the next 20 minutes of my life, I waited patiently as my three year-old sobbed, wailed, and gnashed his teeth over the injustice of having to eat four little bites.
Those Twenty minutes stretched out before me as if time stood still. New species were born and became extinct, civilizations rose and fell, plants died, were crushed, and squeezed into diamonds, the Simpsons celebration their millennial continuous season on TV, and the universe contracted and exploded anew while I waited.
And then, finally, the wailing stopped, the tears dammed up, and the Attitude picked up his fork.
Together, we counted as he took bites…
(“How many more, now?” He sniffled and extended a single, lonely finger. He may not eat much, but his math is pretty good)
“Now, was that so hard?” I asked. With great, anime-shining eyes, he looked up at me, pouting, and nodded in the affirmative.
Well, I guess I can’t expect win them all.
But at least I won the epic Battle of Four Little Bites.