I thought my youngest son (almost three) had outgrown wearing his food, but he proved me wrong. With tomato sauce saturating his hair and staining his grinning face a deep orange he announced that he was all done.
He couldn’t have read my mind more accurately if he had tried.
So I scolded Mr. All Done and gave him his milk before I excused him from the table. After all, a mother has to make sure her child eats three square meals a day no matter how much he likes to style his hair with it.
It doesn’t have to make sense. It’s just the way moms think. If I send my child from the table without his milk no matter how he’s behaved, his teeth may rot and fall out and his bones won’t grow and he’ll be stunted for life and this could lead to problems in relationships and he might be scarred forever.
So I gave him a cup of milk. He promptly put both hands in it, spilling it everywhere.
This is the thanks I get for looking out for his mental welfare. I save him from a life of emotional scarring and he has me rushing to sop up the milk before it ruins the rug.
So, I take him to the bathroom to wash him, whereupon he screams. Now, at no point during his ‘meal’ did he experience aversion to the layers of food he applied to his body, but somehow soap and water are like acid on his face and hands.
Now I have a dripping child running from one family member to the other milking the moment for all the sympathy he can get.
Just whose mental health SHOULD I be concerned about here? What about me? I carried this child for nine months and gave birth to him. I feed him all the good things he needs to grow and be smart and healthy, I keep him clean and mentally stimulated and now I’m the bad guy?
So I consulted my stash of chocolate. If I had read the Mother’s Manual BEFORE I was ever pregnant, I might have decided that marriage and children were not for me. Why on earth would I volunteer for a vocation where I get little affirmation and validation from the little masters I serve?
Doctors, nurses and teachers get more thanks than I do.
By now, the little twerp is pacified and decides to approach me. I brace myself. What is he going to try to negotiate now? Uh-oh. He saw the chocolate.
“Momma, have chocolate please?”
“No. You made a mess of your lunch. No chocolate.” He runs off in tears and I am absolutely certain this will cost him $75 an hour when he’s a young adult. Well, good for him. I may as well make it worth his time. I’ll write some more columns about him and make sure I cover those delicate emotional stages of puberty with great detail.
Mother’s guilt. That which doesn’t kill us makes us eat chocolate.