Drawing the line – where?

Hell’s parking lot (a representation)

After getting away on my own for a fantabulous gal pal weekend, I had a lovely night with Lily (and Joe) at a winter-themed library storytime on a recent Monday night. We all danced to songs, made marshmallow/pretzel/chocolate chip snowmen, cut out paper snowflakes, and made snowy pictures with glue and instant potato flakes. We all enjoyed ourselves, and Lily couldn’t have been happier as we headed back down the block, through the snow, to our house.

So here I was, thinking, “Wow, things are really going great.” And when Joe reminded me that I’d be flying solo with Lily the following night, because he needed to go to an evening board meeting for the brass band he used to play for. No problem, right? He’d just been on his own with Lily all weekend, and she’d been an angel throughout. This should be a cake walk.

By now, when I think such things, I should automatically assume the worst. Yet I never do. Despite my generally cynical persona, I have an irrepressible optimistic streak when it comes to my own life. So I couldn’t possibly see the dark night of the parenting soul that lay before me. Continue reading

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Food Fight, take two

I’ve previously written about our struggle with Lily’s spotty, picky eating habits at home (though, mysteriously, she eats like a horse, and eats a wide variety of foods, at daycare). But things really came to a head last Wednesday night.

Joe, who’s now dealing with the craziness of preparing to be lead attorney on a multi-million dollar trial, came home after a tough day and cooked dinner. He cut Lily’s dinner into small pieces for her, and also put some fruit she likes in a small bowl.

Just before coming to the table, Lily – motivated by the promise of a fruit snack (we’re following daycare’s lead on this) – wanted to use the bathroom. Nothing happened on the potty, but Lily still wanted her fruit snack. We said no, not wanting to get into the habit of giving her one just for trying – she’d be there all the time otherwise – and she started falling apart.

I was determined to stick to our plan of offering her dinner and nothing beyond that. So after trying to comfort her (she refused me) and talk to her (she couldn’t hear me for all her own ad nauseum, weepy screaming of, “I want a fruit snack”), I told her, “Lily, it’s dinnertime. I’d like for you to eat with us, but with you or without you, we’re going to eat.”

I left her crying in the living room and went to the kitchen, sat down at the table, and set to mechanically eating my dinner. Joe stood at his chair sighing, miserable, saying things like, “I used to love coming home and having dinner. After all the stress at work all day, it was really nice to come home and have dinner. And now, I hate it.”

I felt terrible. The two people I love most were profoundly unhappy, and I felt absolutely helpless in altering the situation in either case. So I listened to Joe vent (and to Lily’s screams) while continuing to fork food into my mouth. Continue reading