Before our little permanent house guest was as old as he is now, he really only did stuff by accident; consequently my disciplining was really a preseason affair. Now that I am the father of something that does stuff purposefully, I need to show it what’s what and how’s how.
All of a sudden all the practice-round stuff is starting to count. My “no’s” must now carry weight, they must be firm and full of conviction. Yet even then, at times, Little Guy has the moxie to look me square in the eye and do the damn thing anyhow. Despite my slightly raised voice, challenging gaze, firmness of tone and all of that good stuff they teach you in obedience class.
Our longest running spat is about throwing food.
He does it.
We dislike it.
I tell him, “No, no. Don’t throw your food. If you don’t want it, just put it back on your plate”. This is when he’s wont to take food out of his mouth and hold it scruff-of-the-neck style. He’ll then slowly extend his arm out to his side, all with perfect eye contact with me, and simply release his captive bite of food to its gravity driven date with the floor amid the skull and bones and remains of rejected food bits past.
The worst part is that he makes a big spectacle of it; he does’t just keep throwing food, he makes me watch a heightened, drawn-out version of it. The “this-food-means-nothing-to-me” psychological warfare aspect of the show is what a.) makes me maddest, b.) makes me laugh out loud and c.) makes me proudest.
I’m glad he’s got it in him not to take shit from anybody, but he’ll have to learn that I’m not anybody. I’m his goddam father and he will take shit from me because it’s my responsibility that he doesn’t turn into some sort of banshee child out of some Golding novel. I suppose all of that will come. I am still having fun despite the frequent head-butting (physical and otherwise).
One thing that I definitely have to work on is not laughing when he does such a thing. I mean, it’s pretty funny. Really, 95% of the shit he does is funny. I just have to work on not showing him that I laugh when he does something that is not socially acceptable. Like taking a full cat food bowl and making it an empty cat food bowl all over the kitchen floor.
Wifey has read some good tactics about getting your kids not to throw food; one involves a “no-thank-you napkin”, which is simply a napkin where the brat can place his unwanted food. We tried this and it sometimes seems to work. Sometimes he’ll just throw the food onto the napkin, so we technically can’t get mad when he does that. Sometimes he takes the napkin and flings that on the ground. But most of the time he just seasons the dining room floor with whatever’s for dinner
From what we read, this is just a phase. From what we hear from other parents, we’re not alone in this struggle. And from what we feel, we will have to continue to be consistent and persistent in our insisting that he keep food at least on the table.