My Stubborn Son
Last night I made soup for dinner. It was good soup if I do say so myself, as did Tim and Michael. Daniel is our picky eater and wasn't interested in the soup. He is probably better described as a stubborn eater rather than a picky eater. It's all in the motivation. We usually have to hold off giving him a 2nd serving of things like bread or pilaf or corn (his favorites) until he finishes the "real" food first. So last night he wanted another biscuit with honey and we told him to eat more soup first. Actually, we have to tell him in more specific terms, like "eat 5 more bites first." And he usually tries to bargain his way down: "how about 4 more bites?" So we play this game just about every day ("if you don't eat 5 bites, then it's going to be 6"). He knows that if he doesn't eat his dinner, we will save it and heat it up for him when he wants a snack later. He even acts like a martyr when he finally eats his dinner (at 8:00): "Fine, I'll EAT it... (sigh)." So back to the soup. Last night, he had about half his soup left. By half of it left, I mean like 5 green beans and 2 bites of ham. We don't give him very much because we know what he does. And we also don't force our kids to lick their plates clean. But we do make them eat enough to get nourishment. Have you seen our skinny kids? They COULD use a little meat on their bones. But I digress. So Daniel really doesn't want to eat any more soup. I know he is not full; I know he is not sick; I know he is being stubborn. So we clean up dinner and leave him sitting at the table. He knows he can quickly gobble up a handful of bites and be done with it, but he doesn't. After an hour (!!) I heat up his soup again and he takes 2 bites of ham. He still doesn't want to finish it. So Michael starts practicing his guitar and I pick up a book to read. Daniel just sits at the table.
Me: "Daniel, all you have to do is eat those green beans and you can be excused."
Daniel: "How about just one green bean?"
Me: "No, all the green beans, and if you can eat more than one bean in a bite, it will be just 4 bites."
Daniel: "But there is a tomato in my bowl."
Me: "You don't have to eat the tomato."
Daniel: "How about one bite?"
Me: "If you can eat all the green beans in one bite, then that's fine."
Daniel: "Oh, all right."
So after TWO hours, he finished his soup. We even had fresh brownies waiting for him, but that wasn't a good enough motivation. How can this kid be so stubborn that he would choose to sit at the table for 2 hours rather than just go "gulp, gulp, gulp" and be excused??