Having one about to move out again and another suffering through her senior year of High School has me a little nostalgic for their respective baby-hoods. It’s been happening quite often over the last few months, but especially over this last week or two. Usually when these memories hit me I can’t stop thinking about them until I write them down.
Because that’s just the way it works now.
The kids and I had an apartment on the outskirts of town. Youngest was about two, making Oldest about ten. It was during that morning bustle we have with our kids trying to dress them, feed them, make sure homework was done, permission slips signed, money for whatever activity, etc. Oldest was at the table eating her breakfast already and I was attempting to get Youngest to eat something.
Youngest was more finicky about food. Mostly she didn’t want it at all. Sometimes I could coax her into eating something, but only if she already knew she liked it.
“You want cereal?”
“It’s breakfast, Honey. You want an egg?”
“Sister has an egg and toast. You want an egg and toast, too?”
At this point an outsider seeing a grown woman argue with a toddler, while seated helpless in her high chair, might point out all the flaws in my actions and/or reasoning. Looking back on it, I can understand that I probably should have just done what most parents do, throw some dry cheerios on the tray, and move on.
I was still trying to get the kid to eat. Oldest was trying to ignore the commotion.
I bent down beside Youngest and in my best ‘please-eat-something-for-mommy’ voice, I tried something else.
“You want Mommy to make you a pancake?”
“No! Want chicken!”
“Honey, we don’t have chicken.”
“Chicken! Now! Want CHICKEN!!!”
At this point she started screaming ‘chicken’ repeatedly, kicking her little legs as fast as they would go, beating the tray with her little fists, and demanding that she get chicken. I was exasperated, confused, and at a total loss for my next move. It was check-mate. I had lost the breakfast battle with only a two-year old as my opponent.
Then, in the midst of her screaming and crying, my begging her to stop and just be reasonable (yes – I know) her little finger began pointing at the refrigerator while she continued to snub.
“Chicken chicken chicken Chicken!”
I turned toward the refrigerator, knowing full well that there was no chicken inside. I was going to open the doors and show her that there was no chicken inside. But the chicken she wanted wasn’t inside the refrigerator. As I stepped closer to it, I saw that on top of it sat a box of corn flakes.
On the box was a bright red rooster.
As soon as I had figured out what she wanted, the rest of the morning went a lot smoother.