Saturday, May 31, 2008
Parenting Mistakes: There is an opportunity at every turn

So Piney just finished lunch.

She had carrots and soup and milk.

I had brought her down and she was in the kitchen.

She spotted the last remaining banana and grabbed for it.

I said, "Just a minute" and opened it for her.

I saw the top was a little bit smashed, so I cut that part off and threw it away-

then I peeled it partway and gave it to her.

However, she didn't like that on the bottom there was a little bruise on the banana.

So I took it back and cut off the good part of the banana and gave it back to her.

I have to say that I was sort of lamenting giving her the last banana.

I wasn't hungry right then, but bananas go fast in our house and I am lucky to ever get one.

However, she wanted it and all moms give up little things like that for their kids.

It is just the way it is.

Well, she took the top half of the banana that I handed her- which was perfectly ripe (without any bruises)- and promptly threw the whole thing in the trash.

I was so surprised I blurted out, "What are you doing?" as I reached for the banana and quickly applied the 5 sec. rule (if food gets dirty for less then 5 seconds it is still perfectly fine to eat)

I washed the banana and said, "No more bananas for you" and I ate the garbage banana (so as not to waste it.)

This did not seem to faze her, it was the rest of the banana that was the issue. She looked at me holding the other half of the banana fully expecting me to give it her.

However, the natural consequence to throwing a perfectly good banana in the trash is to not let her have more of the banana, so I cut off the bruised part and I ate the other part of the banana.

Piney looked at me incredulously and then holding back tears let out a giant wail while walking into the comfort of M in the other room.

Now I was feeling horrible.

What did I miss?

Did she not just throw the first half of the perfectly good banana in the trash?

Then it occurred to me that there was something about that exchange she did not understand. Perhaps she thought I had wanted her to throw it away for some mysterious reason. Perhaps she was just copying me, because I threw away the mashed part of the banana in the beginning.

I was totally confused. How can I give her natural consequences for her actions if I don't understand her actions. If I can't even interpret her actions as being right or wrong.

Honestly I didn't even want to eat the banana right then. I wasn't even hungry. It might have been nice to have some time later, but....

it wasn't a big deal. I just didn't want her to throw away the entire banana and I felt like she shouldn't be rewarded for ruining food.

These kinds of little problems come up all the time.

Any advice?

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Blogger Rob said...
I don't have enough fingers (or toes) to count the number of times I've had moments like this - just this week!

So often, I act hastily and then regret that I didn't slow down to really think about the interaction that just took place and come up with a more constructive or instructive solution.

Especially difficult for us is that our little guy isn't at the point where we can have a truly useful dialog with him. So all too often, we attempt to communicate and then guess about the effectiveness of what just transpired. I get the sense that he understands most of what we say, but I'm certainly at a loss to wrangle all of his subtle non-verbal clues and jibber-jabber into something meaningful.

Blogger Maggie said...
No ideas, just commiseration. Slugger and I have food battles all the time and wasting food is a HUGE issue in our house. And Slugger is nearly 11 -- plenty old enough to explain things to and reason with. Yet it continues to be a problem.

The other day after eating a HUGE breakfast he grabbed three pickles. I told him to finish the one in his mouth and put the other two away. (We're constantly working on "take a small portion to start and if you want more, go back for more." Because his natural instinct is to take TONS and waste 90% of it.)

Instead of putting the two pickles away, he through the one in his mouth into the sink, quickly took a bite out of the other two, and ran away from me and hid.

Seriously? What the hell?

Blogger Elle said...
You may not have understood her actions, but she knew why she was doing it. Taking away the banana and telling her why you did so is a logical enough consequence. I would have done exactly the same thing. Although I might not have eaten it right then as I eat 1-2 bananas a day already.

Blogger M.B. McClendon said... are something! I think she didn't like the idea that you had it instead of her --- even if she was going to throw it away (if I understand the scenario correctly). Our youngest (both are boys are adopted too) will break out into a FIT if I tell him to slow down and stop cramming food into his mouth (he's GOT to be afraid it will somehow sprout wings and fly off!). I'll take a few pieces away and tell him to chew up and swallow what's in his mouth (he's one and a half, btw), then he'll get the rest when he's done with what's in his mouth. He throws a fit! He wants it all NOW! lol...

Blogger Lauri said...
Hard to say... she might have just been shadowing you and throwing it away, but I agree that you did the right thing in not giving her anymore

It's funny what kids think we want... and most of the time I like the believe that they are trying their little hearts out to please us

Anonymous Anonymous said...
Im still trying to figure those moments out with my kids. Sometimes is it so funny/wierd/annoying how they think something completely different then what is going on threw our heads!

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