Toddler: 572, Baba: 1


Yeah, don’t even talk to me about the quantity of jam on this here toast.  In the amount of time it took me to broker this compromise breakfast, I could have planted a strawberry seed, nurtured the plant to blossoming and producing ripe strawberries, picked ’em, and then cooked ’em up into jam.  Is what I’m saying.

It went a little something like:

Baba: Toast, sweetie?

Lil’ peanut: No, bagel!

B: Okay, fine: bagel. You could be more gracious about it.  

Lil’ p: No, toast!  

B: Great: toast it is.  Cream cheese on it?

Lil’ p: No, butter!

B: Have it your way, butter. But just for today, and that’s my final offer.

Lil’ p: No, ceem chi chi [the closest he gets to “cream cheese.”]

B:  Whatever. Jam?

Lil’ p: No jam!  

B: Fine! Eighty six the jam!  

Lil’ p: No, I want jam!

B: Aaaaaaaaaaaaargh!

And then we switch positions and start all over.

Imagine a pinball ricocheting all over the innards of a pinball machine.  My son’s stream of consciousness being the pinball, and my poor, menopausal, under-slept, forty-something parental self being the pock-marked pinball machine innards.

(Why not just cram porridge down his ungrateful little maw and be done with it, you ask? Easier said than done, is all I can say.  Why not tell him: “It’s my way or the highway, bub! You don’t like what we got at this restaurant, find yourself another restaurant, or better yet, starve!” To which I say: why weren’t you there helping me with these bright ideas when I needed them?! I just get worn down and sucked into it and I’m like some dang yokum dupe at a New York City sidewalk hustler’s shell and pea game ’til five minutes into it, at which point I go “Daggone it he’s done it again!” Or some such.)

If I hadn’t lived through hurricane toddler before, I’d be face down on the boxing ring mat around about now, his tiny foot would be on my back, his inky dinky fists raised in triumph. Instead, nowadays I am upright, if on the ropes, with a shred of my dignity intact.

I brokered a deal and made a halvesies toast, all the while delivering a lecture about the value of compromise.  I hovered the plate just outside of his arm’s reach while I reminded him that I might have been willing to strike a bargain this time, but what I hope to encourage him to do is to take what is given with gratitude, like a good proto-Buddhist. (Not that he’s practicing, but whatever. It doesn’t hurt to lay the foundation early.) 

Any of it sink in? Ask me in another ten, twenty years, when I feel hopeful I might begin to see signs that they’ve internalized the positive example I daily strive to show them.  ‘Til then, I tend to think it’s all “Ginger! blah blah blah blah Ginger! blah blah blah.” (eh? thanks to Gary Larson)

6 thoughts on “Toddler: 572, Baba: 1”

  1. Oh God. That so describes so much of my life it’s almost painful to read. Right now, many of our “discussions” begin with the phrase, “Why didn’t you do…” and center around cheese strings, to the point where I want to pull out my fingernails one by one. Just for the distraction the pain might cause. This is all from the four-year-old; the 21-month-old is still, blessedly, attitude free. We’re just waiting … for about four months from now, I figure:

    Hang in there. There’s always vodka.

  2. Ha! You are not alone, seester. Been there, done that, continue to go there and do that on a daily basis. Just call it a healthy dose of whole grain, dairy and antioxidants and live to teach gratitude another day.

  3. Brilliant piece, Mama non g! And that is it! He can’t even conjugate a sentence without it begins “You didn’t…” Our kids must be studying from the same grammar book. Funny you should mention that about vodka. Our Family Coalition, our friendly local LGBT family organization, had a gala fundraising to-do recently for which Grey Goose was a generous sponsor. Which many of us, who clearly don’t get out often enough, generously appreciated.

    And eyejunkie, such a nice “glass half full” vision that is! Or rather jam jar half full. I will have a memory like an elephant for stuff like this, particularly when he reaches high school and begins to ask to borrow the family car, or family space shuttle, or family electric-powered scooter, or whatever it’ll be by then.

    “Can I borrow the car, Baba?”

    “No, son, but you can take the scooter.”

    “Okay, the scooter.”

    “No! No scooter! Borrow the car only, but take me to the orthopedist’s first!”

    “Fine, Baba: car, but orthopedist’s first.”

    “No! Take me to the orthopedist’s on the scooter, then you can borrow it!”


  4. Today we had major under-slept-forty-somethings causing all the ruckus whilst the children fed themselves on Easter chocolate.
    I am barely functioning on account of toddler nocturnal screaming blue murder for no reason in the unmoveable stylee you describe.
    Thus I completely forgot that wifey and I had agreed to have an impromptu game of ‘domestic catclysm’ (played on this occasion by exaggerating to absurdity the untidiness of our house and housework required before tomorrow’s visitors arrive).
    Wifey played her part to a tee launching into a scathing attack on (amongst other things) how working arrangements suited work more than family. It has been totally surreal to clarify that 1) she was joking 2)I completely forgot we had agreed to play 3)she didnt realise that I was taking her seriously.

  5. I try to focus on how my own two year old is learning to make decisions, and how practicing on these unimportant decisions will make it easier for him to not choose drugs and hookers later on. I find it helps to cast myself as the intellectual observer rather than irritated participant.

    It also helps that my toddler isn’t interested in decisions until after he’s had breakfast (same thing every day regular as clockwork), that his Dad is the one who gets up first most mornings to handle the breakfast routine, and that I generally don’t have to do much til I’ve been handed a coffee. In the interests of getting through the rest of the day’s decisions you understand.

  6. Well, you’re a far more sensitive Baba than I’ll ever be. It’s admirable.

    My mother reminds me frequently that I would eat ONLY mashed potatoes, bananas and macaroni & cheese for the first two years of my life. Unfortunately, the “find another kitchen” technique never worked on me either. As a child who grew up with despicably terrible eating habits [and now, in the evening of adolescence, is paying for it in the hips], stay firm with the tough love!

    Because I’m the oldest cousin of all my cousins, I’m in charge of meal-making when I babysit them. So guess what I say when green beans and squash aren’t sufficient sides: “Looks like you won’t be eating much tonight, then.” I’m probably the meanest cousin ever, but they’ll thank me when they’re 30 and thin.


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