Tuesday, September 17, 2013

The Revenge of the Red Bowl

I’ve already begun plotting my revenge. But it’s going to take at least a decade to pull off.   
The plan is simple. When my kids are all teenagers, I am going to take them to a restaurant that serves its meals on plates and bowls of all different colors – so it’ll likely have to be a Tex-Mex joint or maybe a Café.   

I’m going to order the soup. When the wait staff brings it, I’m going to act completely shocked. Then I’m going to stand and scream at the top of my lungs:

“What! No! Not the green bowl! I wanted the red bowl!”  

Then I am going to cry uncontrollably until someone brings me my soup in a red bowl. It’s fool proof.  

If my kids have learned anything from me, it’s that you appease the screaming person who wants their cereal in a specific bowl, or their apple juice in the Nemo cup not the Princess one. Because each one of our kids has done this to us, and each one has eventually gotten their way.

Clearly, some one has tried to
serve his food in the wrong bowl.
This childhood obsession with specific tableware usually starts around 2 years old and last well past 5. It’s a stage of development, I assume. I gave up trying to convince a screaming kid that Rice Krispies tastes the exact same out of any colored bowl. (It’s also true of the generic Wegmans-brand alternative Crispy Rice, which is 2 bucks cheaper).

Toddlers, preschoolers and, apparently, kindergarteners are simply not old enough to understand that the molecular structure of apple juice is in no way altered by the kid cup in which it is served. I stopped engaging in that argument a few kids ago.

Maybe by appeasing them, I’ve trained them to act so rashly. But with the first one, we really did try. 

We were determined never to negotiate with our first toddler. We were going to teach her to eat out of whatever vessel her breakfast was served in, and to be grateful for the pleasure. 

Of course, that led to long standoffs, where the cereal would sit there, between us, getting mushy in the wrong bowl. The screaming and crying would continue well after the cereal was ruined and dumped in a pile in the sink.
She could go hours without eating just to get her favored bowl. Apparently, there’s a strain of stubbornness that runs in either my family, or my wife’s. I’m not certain which.

We had similar stand-offs with kids two and three -- though, with each my breaking point became easier for the child to reach.

By the time our fourth kid entered the phase where he cared passionately about the color of bowl, type of spoon or brand of cup, I just said, "Fine, which bowl do you want?"

Even if I have to dig it out of the dishwasher and give it a quick hand wash, it's less trouble than listening to a kid scream through breakfast.

Over the years, our policy of tableware appeasement has saved time and cereal, and it also bought silence – at least occasional silence.

Of course, if a kid wants a specific bowl that another kid is already eating out of, well, that’s another story. They have to wait ... or they could just eat out of another bowl because it really is the same.

WAHHHHH! Fine, just wait.

I’m sure there are loads of people better than me at parenting that have an answer to this dilemma, who could solve my children’s propensity to scream when given an inferior vessel or an unwanted spoon. These so-called “toddler whisperers,” I imagine, could cure my cranky kids after just a few meals. But four kids into this parenting thing, I’ve got more pressing battles to win.

Instead, I plot.

My revenge is going to be awesome, and, I anticipate, a bit unexpected. Because, I’m hoping all my kids will be out of this stage by then; And, it really makes no logical sense to complain about the color of your plate or bowl so loudly that the establishment refuses to serve you a meal. Especially if it’s a really good Tex-Mex joint. I do love me some enchiladas.

On second thought, I’ll definitely have to find a Café to exact my revenge.

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