Clare has becoming increasingly interested in my cooking. She pulls up her little blue stool and stands next to me while I chop vegetables, mix ingredients, and prepare dinner. Last night was no different. On the menu was beef stroganoff. Clare likes noodles, ground meat, and sour cream, so I thought this meal wouldn't be a problem. She watch as I diced onions and commented how they smelled. She stood behind me as I browned the meat and started to prepare the sauce. Everything was going well until it was time to sit down and eat. I served her plate first, so it would have the maximum time to cool off and sat down to enjoy dinner. Edgar was working late and wasn't expected to be home until 8:30, so it was a mommy-daughter date. I put her in her high chair and placed her plate in front of her. Without even taking a bite, she looked up at me and said, "I don't like it." I asked her to try it before she jumped to conclusions, but she refused. The tears began to flow. For over an hour she cried and screamed about not wanting to eat dinner. After 40 minutes, I finally let her out of her chair and told her to go sit in time-out until she stopped crying. She sat there for another 20-25 minutes still crying as loud as when she began. The whole time I was trying to lovingly encourage her to at least try it. I made her a deal that if she took a couple of bites and did indeed not like it, that I would give her the banana and toast she was asking for. She still refused. When I was looking into her little face, puffy and red from crying, I kept seeing a reflection of myself. I thought to myself, "I've been here kid, and I know that neither one of us is giving up."
After she finally stopped crying in time-out, she crawled up on the couch next to me and gave me a big hug. She didn't say anything, but she sat there next to me and rested her head on my belly. I honestly thought she had cried herself into exhaustion, but she stayed awake. Around 8:00 she said, "Mom, I think I want to try the noodles." I put her back in her chair and placed her plate in front of her again. As I started to clean the kitchen, I could see her picking out the noodles without any sauce on them and eating them. She never complained, but it was clear she did not like the sauce. I let her take around 7-8 bites and then I asked her if she would like to try something else. She said, "May I please have a banana and toast with jelly?" I replied, "Of course."
When it was all said and done, I have to admit that to a certain extent I was proud of her. She was sticking to her guns and for over and hour she didn't give up. That was me when I was three, except I have a flair for the dramatic and decided to run away from such an unjust home. When I look back at how stubborn, passionate, and strong willed I was growing up, I understand that there were many times in my life when I could have directed these behaviors in more positive ways. I think it somewhat protected me because it made me really stick to what I believed to be right or wrong, but I also think that it made me a very critical and judgmental person. I missed out on a lot of friendships because of this. I know this may seem like a simple example of a two year old acting like a two year old, but it reminded me that as a parent it's my responsibility to lovingly temper her emotions into ways that are glorifying to God. Last night was a glimpse of what lies ahead with my little Clare. I can't wait for the bumpy ride!