Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Battle of the Wills

Dinner time. Tuesday night. Goobs has eaten his usual four bites of food and has begun his after dinner marathon around the house. Bean is finishing up his peas. Mommy and Daddy have finished and are waiting for Bean to join his brother so they can have a conversation.

Bean: "Mommy, I'm done."

Mommy: "OK, well, you need to asked to be excused and clear your plate off."

Bean: "No, I just want to say 'can i get down now'"

Mommy: "No, it is polite to say "may I please be excused". That is what you say when you want to get down from the dinner table. You are old enough to use manners. Now, say 'may I please be excused' and then when I say yes you can clear you plate off."

Bean: "No Mommy. I can't say that. I'm going to just say 'can I get down now'.

Mommy looks at Daddy and squints. It's 5:45 pm. Mommy has a headache. She is tired. She isn't sure if she has the fight in her. Then she remembers something she read once, "being a parent is very inconvenient". Quite the understatement.  Time for Mommy to muscle up and get the job done.

Mommy: "Bean, you need to ask to be excused the right way. You can't get down until you do. And no desert until you clear your plate off."

Bean crosses his arms across his chest and does a little  humph thing. He scowls at Mommy.

Bean: (sort of shouting, no, not sort of, a full on shout) "I'm not saying that! I can't say that. I'm going to say 'please can I get down now!' 

Mommy: (Realizing that this is an absolutely ridiculous argument she says in an I'm going to purposely talk very slowly and calmly because if I'm not very intentional here i will scream at you voice) "You will sit there until you do as I say."

Bean: "(Still shouting) "No! I either say 'please can i get down' now or nothing."

Mommy: "I don't take ultimatums from you. You know what you have to do to get down. You will sit there till you do."

Much screaming and wailing and shrieking ensues. Bean cries about how Mommy doesn't love him, how Mommy is being mean, how Mommy is making him say things he can't. This is coming from the kid who frequently asks Mommy if something he wants to watch on t.v. is 'age appropriate'. He can say "may I please be excused". He is choosing not to and it is making Mommy kind of mad.

Then, all of a sudden like a flash, Mommy remembers a similar moment with her parents. No horrific details needed, but let's just say, it becomes painfully clear which of his parents Bean was acting like at this particular moment. As if he can read Mommy's thoughts, Daddy looks over at her and grins.

 Mommy: (About 10 minutes of the crying have passed, Mommy hasn't lost her resolve but she is getting really close to caving. She has to win this. SHE HAS TO WIN THIS! Again in her calm voice ) "Bean, these are part of the dinner rules. This is part of being a polite young man. You need to asked to be excuse the right way and clear off your plate. Then you may have desert."

Bean: (Thinking very hard. He stops crying and is now just sniffling. He looks at Mommy and squints. Mommy can see his brain working. She knows perfectly well what is going on in that brain. She has Mommy powers. She grew this child. She squeezed him out. She knows how his brain works better than he does. She can see it, she is going to win!) "May I please be excused Mommy."


Mommy: "Yes. You may be excused. And, would you like some milk with your desert?

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