Yeah, don’t even talk to me about the quantity of jam on this here toast. Â 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. Â 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. Â
Lil’ p: No, toast! Â
B: Great: toast it is. Â 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: Â Whatever. Jam?
Lil’ p: No jam! Â
B: Fine! Eighty six the jam! Â
Lil’ p: No, I want jam!
And then we switch positions and start all over.
Imagine a pinball ricocheting all over the innards of a pinball machine. Â 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. Â 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. Â 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.)Â
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. Â ‘Til then, I tend to think it’s all “Ginger! blah blah blah blah Ginger! blah blah blah.” (eh?Â thanks to Gary Larson)