Chunky is in a whiney, temper-tantrum stage. Groan! We’ve punished, ignored, and even laughed through his repeated trips to Camp Pitch Fit. But all of us, even Monkey, are worn thin by Chunky’s loud wails and floor pummeling.
Of course you can’t give in. But standing your ground is so much easier said than done.
This morning, we all woke up a little late. I got my sleepy boys downstairs, asked them what they wanted for breakfast, and rushed about making my own peppermint tea and their cinnamon toast.
I don’t know why I did it. I knew, even as I cut the crust off their toast, that no good could come of such an action. I’ve always made them deal with their own crust issues, and slicing off the edges for them set a dangerous precedent.
I handed them their plates, and Chunky immediately went into whine mode. “I didn’t want mine toasted.”
Thinking it was entirely possible I’d missed his request for non-toasted toast, I told Chunky to give his brother his square of warm, buttered bread, and I would make him “cold toast.”
Time was slipping away, so I buttered a slice of bread, sprinkled cinnamon on it, and gave it to him—with the crust still on.
Mount Vesuvius erupted on my living room couch. “I don’t want the crust! You didn’t cut it off! Why didn’t you cut it off! Waaaaah!”
Totally unacceptable. I ignored my spewing five-year-old and gulped my own tea and yogurt down while Monkey simply turned the volume on his cartoons up to 50.
Then I told Chunky that he could either eat what he was given or go to school hungry, and I headed upstairs to brush my teeth and throw on clothes.
I came back down, shouting to the boys to get dressed. We were dangerously close to late. Entering the living room, I caught the distinct whiff of garlic. What in the world, I thought, but continued into the kitchen to pack Chunky’s snack.
That was when I noticed that he’d thrown away the cold toast I’d given him, gotten a new piece of bread, and cut the crust off himself. He was sitting on the living room floor with his new breakfast. I should have stopped to deal with his sneakiness right then, but time was ticking away.
I turned off the TV, threw socks at my boys, stuffed my towel in my gym bag and said, “We gotta go” the requisite four times.
Again I puzzled at the strong garlic odor, but I figured it was somehow leftover from the garlic cheese biscuits I’d made the night before.
After my fifth “We gotta go,” I noticed the sad little heap of kindergartener on my floor.
“What’s the matter?” I asked.
“I didn’t get to eat my toast.”
I looked at the square of toast on his plate and realized that instead of cinnamon, he’d dumped garlic powder on his bread. He’d taken a few nibbles, but his sad little face clearly stated the nastiness of his concoction.
“It doesn’t taste very good, does it?” I asked him.
His lip wobbled, and he shook his head ‘no.’
Quickly I explained that he deserved to either have to eat his mistake or go without breakfast, but that I was going to give him what he didn’t deserve. Grace. And a new piece of buttered, crustless bread, with cinnamon on top.
At five, I’m not sure Chunky can fully grasp the concept of grace. But I do know that he was incredibly glad that he didn’t have to eat his bread with garlic powder. The few bites he took were enough to temper the sweetness of defiance—and give him some pretty potent garlic breath.
In Others’ Words: Discipline and Celebration
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