Monday, September 23, 2013

Beginner Parenting: Gratitude

When I was twelve, I wouldn't eat the Hamburger Helper.  I hated it, and for good reason.  When I told my mom that I refused to eat the gloopy brown noodles, she promptly placed a large photo of a starving African child in front of me.  I sat there stubbornly for over two hours before she sent me to bed without dinner.  My dinner made a truly disgusting breakfast the next morning.  My mother's 'extreme' emphasis on gratitude has influenced my own parenting style.  Case in point:

A few weeks ago, I picked Rowena up from her first day of kindergarten.  Her mood was positively effervescent after the long day.  In the car, she opened her lunchbox to feast on the leftovers: two cherry tomatoes, a maple cookie, and string cheese.  

"Rowena, eat one of the tomatoes before you eat anything else, okay?"

"But I don't like tomatoes."

"I know you don't. Eat it anyway, please."

"But it's yuckyyyyyyy!"

Cue the crying, gagging, slouching, and passive-aggressively pressing her feet against the back of the driver's seat.  This behavior is not typical of Rowena.  I knew that the combination of hunger and exhaustion brought out the vinegar from my special snowflake of a daughter, so I tried not to freak out.  

As my car sped through the country roads past farms and fields, a familiar dairy-scent filled my nostrils.  (There's really nothing like rotting cow feces on a hot September day.)  I stopped the car.  In the middle of the road.  It is important to note that Rowena is extremely sensitive to smell.  She loves to smell everything, from her food to flowers to clean laundry to crayons.  You name it, she sniffs it.  With my eye on my rear view mirror, (which remained clear during the duration of this adventure) I gave Rowena a look of doom and said in my most powerful Mom-God voice, "Do you smell that?  We will sit here until you eat that tomato!"  After another mini-freakout, Rowena saw that I was serious.  She stuffed the tomato in her mouth and chewed vigorously with minimal heaving.  "Swallow it," I said mercilessly.  She swallowed the offending fruit and gave a sigh of relief.  I moved the car forward, past the Pit of Eternal Stench, not without a feeling of Did I Just Do That?  

"Thanks for eating the tomato, Ro!  Here's your cookie and cheese."  After that, it was over.  Rowena chatted happily about her lovely teacher and classmates for the rest of the ten-minute drive.  She's a good egg.
My friend Joanna took this photo right before Rowena's first class.  
Little did we know of the stinky adventure that awaited us that afternoon. 

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