She looks at the plate skeptically. "I don't like this" she says.
"Yes you do," I say, overly bright. "You love it!"
She takes one bite and gags dramatically, causing me to rethink my own commitment to chicken pot pie.
I hold him on my lap, all diaper and rosy cheeks and chubby thighs. "You are a GOOD BOY," I tell him over and over. "You are NICE."
"DOOO BU!" he says, smiling widely as he slaps me on the top of the head. "Nasssss," poking his fingernail into the side of my mouth.
"Won't you feel great when this is clean?" I say. "It will just take a minute. Look, not too many toys!"
He grabs the sides of his hair, distraught. "This is SO MUCH TOYS! I WILL NEVVVVVER FINISH!" Two hours later, I check in to find a cozy scene, children curled up on rugs and beds with books and tiny ponies and scraps of paper cut into "designs". The room still looks like New Orleans after Mardi Gras.
"I have to do something about that," I think. "But.... ehhhhhh"
I hold fast on so many things. I have never given into a grocery store meltdown. I've never made a second meal for a picky toddler. I've never ignored rebellion, unless I think they didn't see me see... in which case I might feign ignorance. Still, with all these parenting victories, it seems I'm running into more and more capitulation. By me, I mean. Nobody else is capitulating.
So I tell myself, "You are capable of doing this! You can set the boundaries and then you will get off your duff and get up and enforce them! You are strong!" But sometimes, I don't believe me. "Maybe they will win," I worry. "Maybe they will be spoiled and disrespectful. Maybe I will be old and they will come by and steal money out of my purse and use it to buy cigarettes."
That does it. I am turning over a new leaf. A zero tolerance policy. Or maybe I will make a spreadsheet, with bullet points, about my new policy. And color coding. Things are going to shape up around here now. Or really soon.