Over the last few weeks (okay, okay – the last few months) I’ve gotten into the bad habit of letting Cameron eat lunch in front of the TV. For some reason I decided today was the day to revert back to eating lunch at the table. What a disaster!
I was totally unprepared for the resistance I was faced with. I ended up eating alone while Cameron lay on the couch in floods of tears, alternatively asking for ‘Beebees’ (TV) and Bunny (the only thing in the world who understands him). The situation escalated far more quickly than I anticipated and I found myself in an unplanned battle of wills, having to stick to my point even though I wasn’t sure why I’d decided to make it in the first place. I’d told him he could watch TV after lunch so in the end I got him to eat three forkfuls at the table and then let him watch one show.
I’m still not sure who won.
I find these battles utterly draining, especially when they sneak up on me like this one did. Cameron moves on from them before the tear stains have even faded but I find the fallout much longer lasting. I know how important it is to stand my ground, but I often find myself having treacherous thoughts like, ‘I should have given him some warning that the routine was going to change.’ And today as I sit here devouring his uneaten mac and cheese (assuaging my guilt with carbs), I have to wonder if he’s fallen asleep hungry.
I find disciplining a toddler hard, hard, hard work. The frequency of ‘boundary battles’ is just discouraging at times. A perfectly happy morning can disintegrate into a war zone in seconds, and then swing back to a peace and tranquillity shortly after. (If I had to experience the level of emotion that Cameron does in the average day I would be an utterly exhausted wreck! I don’t know where kids get their stamina from.)
But I think the biggest problem is that these situations often leave me with a gnawing feeling of guilt over how I handled them. (Having the maid hovering at the doorway with accusing eyes while Cameron flings himself dramatically on the couch probably doesn’t help.) Mom-guilt is an insidious, evil beast, and as there’s never a right answer when it comes to parenting, it has ample opportunity to attack.
The worst part of it is that now I’ve started this process so for the next few days I will have to continue with my quest to have lunch at the table. Not a thought that encourages me. I think I’ll go find some chocolate now …