Bending

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The sun was going down.

As the shadows in my bedroom grew longer, the empty stone in my tummy kept rumbling and rumbling, growing more and more insistent.

My eyes were puffy and burning. I don’t remember what egregious sin I had committed to send me to bed without dinner but there I was.

In bed.

Without dinner.

Hungry.

Just when I had given up hope and started drifting off into a sad, sad sleep, the door to my room cracked open and there standing in a frame of light was the shadow of my mother. In her hand was a piece of whole wheat bread with peanut butter and a glass of milk.

Peanut butter never tasted quite so good before or after.

My son refused to eat his dinner last night. We have had this battle before. A simple reminder about the fish coming out at breakfast brought about a few bites, enough to spare him that fate. Still, it was not enough to keep him alive. He had to be terribly hungry.

As we were heading upstairs he could smell the bread in the oven, baking. Sure enough, he begged and pleaded for a warm, buttered slice.

“No. You didn’t eat enough of your dinner.”

Big, fat tears rolled down his cheeks.

I got him pottied, his teeth brushed, and his jammies on. He asked for bread one last time as I was tucking him into bed.

“Please, mommy?”

I refused again.

Then I remembered my own mother relenting, what a cherished memory that had been for me growing up, knowing that at least for those few minutes she loved me more than those damn rules.

The oven timer beeped.

His smile glowed from across the darkened room as he crunched into his warm, buttery bread. We brushed the crumbs off his sheets into the floor afterwards. I could sweep that up in the morning…

“I love you, mommy.”

“I love you, too.” I smiled back. “Next time, though, eat your fish!”

Kindness matters. Especially to little boys and girls.

And even to mommies.

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95 thoughts on “Bending

  1. “Kindness matters. Especially to little boys and girls.”—Absolutely. And so does respect. I finding being kind to our children and respecting them as individuals, not just extensions of ourselves, goes a long way toward good behavior. That doesn’t mean we let them walk all over us or never have to dispense negative discipline, but it usually ends up promoting such good behavior that negative discipline is needed much less often.

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  2. There is no accounting for our taste in food (or, for that matter, in anything else!)

    E.g. I cannot stand the taste of peppers, be they green, yellow or red. Frying mushrooms have a vile smell, at least for me.

    Many vegetables and herbs are a complete no-no: Mint, basil, fennel, celery, etc.

    It is not a choice one makes consciously.It’s very hard to overcome natural aversions. We have to acquire many tastes, many cheeses are simply the result of rotting milk! Some varieties are benign but others like Limburger are positively vile although not poisonous.

    We are born with aversions to rotting food and excrement – these are not learned and deviations are either abnormal are learned or simply perverse.

    So spare a thought for those whose tastes differ – and try to accommodate them.

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  3. Mine didn’t relent, but those silly nillies were such deep sleepers – I just had to hold out until they went to bed and fell asleep! ( Their thing was school. They held the bar high – would even move it higher while you were in the middle of jumping)

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  4. We were brought up strict regarding eating everything on your plate. Then when my two children were 5 and 7 I became a single parent. One of my friends was a doctor and we talked about the problem. He said, “John, no child ever willingly starves itself to death. Don’t be so tough on them or yourself”

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  5. I am so glad you gave him the bread. Kids understand punishment and connect food in the wrong way when it is used to reinforce behavior, especially if it is eat it or else.
    I hated fish as a kid….and to this day will not eat Salmon. Of course my Mom used canned salmon….yucky pink crap in a crΓ¨me sauce. She called in Bubblegum fish. My stomach did a flip just thinking about it.

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    • Ack! My parents served canned salmon, too. My father would not allow my mother to remove the bones. We needed the extra calcium he said. Crunching down on chalky salmon vertebra is disgusting as you can imagine. One of the many culinary tortures that I endured during my formative years. Thanks for bringing back that memory (we are even now!)…

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  6. Home made bread from the oven is something of which memories are made. Some of my children were fussy eaters. They eat everything now. Perhaps the taste buds in children are over sensitive and hence the food preferences and dislikes. But that home made bread is something to die for.
    Leslie

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  7. I let out a big sigh of, well, agreement as I read this.

    Yesterday was a tough day. Munchkin pulled out all the stops — a display I hadn’t seen in a while (moving from the insane tantrums of terrible twos into the more tolerable threes and soon to be four). By 7 pm, after all the insanity and NO NAP AT ALL, I was done!
    I threatened sending her to bed several times but I had to hold out until 9-ish because if she goes to bed too early she will wake up at 12 and not want to go back to bed until the wee hours of the morning. (Shaking head).

    By 9:30 after she picked up the empty window planter, dashed across the living room then tripped over her home-made cape (as worn by Queen Elsa in the movie Frozen) sending the pebbles across the floor THAT. WAS. IT. “BED!!!” I yelled. Go straight to bed!

    I stayed up until 12:30 organizing some receipts, but by the time I showered and shut the lights out she was up. What the …? I marched her back to her bed as she cried. She refused to get in. “OK then, I’m going to bed. See you tomorrow.” I was fully disengaged. My tank was empty. A few minutes later I heard her crawl into bed, then SILENCE… she was back to sleep.

    This morning, I asked her what all the crazy was about yesterday, but never really got a straight answer, but managed to get an apology with a big hug around my legs. That’s all I needed. I melted and gave her the biggest hug ever and a few kisses too (then packed a special lollipop into her after daycare snack bag).

    Today she was at daycare so we both got the much needed break from each other to be super excited to see each other again. All is once again well with the world! A little kindness (even in the form of an apology) certainly goes a long way. ^_^

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  8. My 8-year old refuses to eat anything that’s not a bread product. It’s a constant battle. At dinnertime, she usually wears us down to the point where we give her a banana just so she can have some sustenance. We are concerned that she’s running the show. Kindness is nice but I would caution you to not let it get as far as we have. We’re in a hole because of an over-abundance of kindness.

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  9. What a sweet ending to this story. I was the worst eater. Mostly vegetable-resistant, I spent hours pushing a few peas around the plate. I resolved to never force-feed my kids. I presented good food, there was always something on the dish that they’d eat. If not, I let it go. Growing up, they came back to the good stuff, they almost always do.

    The bread was such an act of love. That gesture will endure.

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  10. Pingback: My Article Read (2-18-2015) (2-19-2015) | My Daily Musing

  11. Food is one area where I refuse to do battle. So long as the kids are eating a decent range of food over the course of a week I don’t really mind if they reject a particular meal. I want them to keep a strong connection with their own hunger cues rather than feel obliged to eat something out of a sense of duty. So far it’s working out. So far…

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