Dinner time has become a nightly battle. And not just a mildly frustrating experience – this is all-out-war. The second Ella realizes she’s not having pizza, spaghetti, or black beans, she launches into Defense Mode. Starting with the Floppy Body, she throws all of her dead weight over the side of the chair and forces us to pin her down, just to get her highchair tray locked. Once she’s securely positioned, she tries The Plea. “All done! All done Momma, all done Daddy! Down! PLEASE!” But even though we’ve decided not to try to force her to eat (after a very long, very tiring night of me offering her every bribe known to man, ending with Ella being sent to bed an hour early and me crying in frustration) we do insist that she sit with us, until everyone is finished with their meal. So then the screaming starts. The howling. The moaning. The begging (DONE MOMMA – DUUUUHHHHN!). And then more screaming.
We’ve tried ignoring her. She doesn’t stop. She has the ability to wail and howl for 20 minutes straight without breaking a sweat – although occasionally she will throw her head in her hands and weep softly into them, for dramatic effect. So I figured we’d try distraction, and get her to talk about her day. What did you watch on Blues Clues? Did you enjoy going to the store with Momma? What did you buy? Etc, etc… And it seems to work to some extent – in fact, last night the screaming was reduced by at least 75%. Our topic of conversation? Talent.
She’d seen an episode of Yo Gabba Gabba where they discover everyone’s talent. So we decided to talk about ours. What’s Ella’s talent? Tom and I exchanged different ideas: she’s great at counting, her ABC’s, singing, climbing stairs (ALL BY SELF!), and making Momma’s eye twitch. And then we moved on to other members of the family, and asked her opinions on each individual.
Momma: What do you think is Daddy’s talent, Ella?
Ella: (she looks at him thoughtfully) ….making beans and rice!
Tom and I look at each other and smile – neither of us are sure when the last time was that Daddy made beans and rice, but we decide to keep encouraging her.
Momma: That’s true, Ella, Daddy is a very good cook, and he’s great at making beans and rice.
Daddy: What do you think Mommy’s talent is?
Ella: Making….beans and rice!
Daddy: That’s true. Mommy is also very good at making beans and rice.
Momma: What is Porter’s talent?
Momma: I think he’s good at barking and giving slobbery kisses. What do you think he’s good at?
Ella: Um…..um….making beans and rice!
No kidding! If he can do that, I think it’s time he learned to pick up his own poop.