A Little TOO Resilient

April 10, 2008

Last night M cooked spaghetti for dinner.  I started getting the headache again late in the afternoon, thanks in large part to a dog who wouldn’t quit barking who woke up a shrieking toddler prematurely from his nap, and by the time M got home, it was at migraine-pain levels again.  I told him I didn’t care what he made for dinner as I didn’t have the stomach to think about it.

So he made spaghetti.  Easy and one of his absolute favorites.  I don’t mind spaghetti, but I can’t eat it more than once every two or three weeks.  He could eat it three nights of the week, at least.  PJ is fairly ambivalent about it, too–at least the eating of it.  It turns out that spaghetti is the awesomest toy, though.

Ask the dog about how the dinner went, as she ate more of it than PJ did.  PJ refused to eat more than a handful or two (yes, handful, and yes he knows how to use a fork and was given one).  After the first handful flung on the floor, he got pulled back from the table for a talkin’-to.  As usual, it meant nothing to him.  He flung more spaghetti on the floor immediately upon his return to the table, much to the dog’s delight.

Another more stern talkin’-to didn’t convince him we were serious about the whole throwing-food matter, and he just about dumped the whole plateful on the floor.  I was feeling bad enough at this time that I overreacted just a bit and took the time-out he was due to extremes.  I quickly brushed the spaghetti off his lap and put him to bed.  It was almost an hour early.

I couldn’t keep the smile off my face when he started crying as I walked back to the kitchen to finish my now-cold plate of spaghetti.  At last, a punishment that affected him.

M totally and completely agreed with me about the punishment.  Every time I questioned it all night, he reminded me that it was the best punishment for the circumstances.  Still, I felt so bad for putting my kid to bed without dinner.  He is not the kind of kid who can easily skip a meal.  And I didn’t want him to fall asleep thinking we didn’t love him.  I actually hoped he would wake up during the night so I could comfort him and get him some food.  He didn’t wake up.

Actually, he didn’t wake up until about an hour and a half later than normal.  You think the misbehavior may have been due to being overtired, thanks to being woken up early from his nap by the dog?  I can’t believe I hadn’t considered that earlier.

But he broke my heart when I let him out of his room this morning.  He looked up at me and asked, “All done?”  I told him that yes, he was all done.  “All done, time-out?”  It was the most matter-of-fact voice, as though he understood the whole night was the punishment, not just the first hour when he wouldn’t normally be in bed.  Talk about making me feel awful!

I don’t think he will be permanently affected by the punishment, though.  Right now he is having fun pretending to change the diapers on his stuffed animals (using all sorts of good combinations of words and phrases).  Maybe the only permanent change that will happen from the punishment will be that he never throws food again.  I can hope anyway!