Home Parenting If You Want to Win, Don’t Make Eye Contact

If You Want to Win, Don’t Make Eye Contact

by Andrea Updyke

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So there is this thing that Oscar is doing right now. It transcends puppy dog eyes yet isn’t as annoying as a temper tantrum. It’s in that gray area of misbehavior somewhere between rebellion and heartbreak. It’s pitiful really.

Let’s say we are going to the store and he has to leave a toy in the car, or Dada leaves for work, or we are out and suddenly Oscar wants his blankie which we left at home. There is no escaping the face. The eyes go dark and teary in that moment of realization that he will not be getting his way. He holds his breath and mouths the word of the item he wants. That he NEEDS. ….blaaanket! blaaaaanket, he says in an almost whisper save for the sobs.

It’s just about enough to do anyone in. But I found the secret to getting through these outbursts. Because sometimes they are sad, yes. But most of the time, they are simply an emotional response to not getting his way. And lets face it, life sucks sometimes. The sooner we learn to deal with it, the better. And I don’t mean in a heartless ignore it kind of way. I mean, learn to deal with the fact that sometimes we want things we can’t have, or have to wait for. Shoot, I am still learning and I am almost 32! So I try to see these outbursts as teaching moments.

Take last night for instance. We had chicken and pasta for dinner with texas toast. We love garlic bread in our family, but we LOVVVVVE texas toast. I tend to hold off giving it to Oscar for as long as possible because once he gets his hands on it, it’s BREAD BREAD all night long all night strong.

He had a few bites of his chicken and started begging for bread. It was in plain view and just begging to be chomped on, so I gave him some. When he finished it, he refused to eat the rest of his food and came thisclose to throwing it on the floor. Now, I am not a ‘finish everything on your plate‘ kinda mom, but I am also not going to give you bread for dinner when there are foods I KNOW you like right in front of you. And for the first time in front of Jerry, the theatrics started. And if you have ever seen me in a fit of dramatics, you can bet my offspring has it covered tenfold.

OH the horror! THE HORROR! Not only did I refuse a bread refill, I moved the bowl to the shelf behind me. NOW he couldn’t even see it! He pushed his food away and like any caring mother, I asked if he was all done…sob sob..breeeeeaaaaaad! I looked down at my plate and Jerry looked from Oscar to me to the bread. I said, just give it a minute as I pushed his bowl of pasta within his reach. A couple minutes later, Oscar was chowing down on the chicken and pasta and dinner was back to normal! Jerry was amazed and honestly, I didn’t really think much of it. I am kinda cold-hearted when it comes to some things. But it hit me when Jerry said,”his little face! Did you see his face?”

And there it was. The secret to winning. I said, “OH no you can’t look at him. You’ll never do it that way. Never make eye contact!” In a way, it’s not unlike getting into a staring contest with a wild animal. You just don’t know what tricks they have up their sleeves. They are unpredictable, and cunning. And yes I realize I compared my child to a wild animal. I am sure it won’t be the last time.

Once the conflict was over we all had a nice meal. And yes we did give him more bread when WE chose to. I have to admit, even though it was but one little battle, it was important. We navigated some choppy waters and came out of it. We parented! We were strong! And Oscar still loves us! Sweet!

Parents (1), Theatrics(0)!

***image courtesy of Subharnab Majumdar

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Angie May 12, 2010 - 2:27 pm

I enjoyed this post, I loved the imagery! (Alyssa and I were recently googling the word imagery, so I ought to recognize it when I see it!) I can TOTALLY picture Oscar doing that! 🙂 And GO PARENTS ! WOOT!

Erin Lane May 12, 2010 - 5:30 pm

LOVE THIS! We go through this every night at dinner. The Bug always wants something more than the other and the theatrics starts. He is crying the second we put him in the high chair because dinner isn’t on his plate. I love the “no eye contact” idea. We’ll have to try that.

I keep muttering under my breath, “Ignore. I-G-N-O-R-E!
.-= Erin Lane´s last blog ..Wordless Wednesday: Loving all the "fake" animals =-.

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