This week there was a mini war in our house. Diplomatic relations were strained and peace treaties in danger of being dissolved.
It started innocently enough. We were sitting at the table having a family dinner. Roast dinner had been prepared and was being eaten enthusiastically. A dozen different conversations were going on and a minor crisis over cutlery usage had already been averted.
My 10 year old daughter is a definite carnivore. I honestly think she would consume a whole pig or chicken by herself if we let her. So she had eaten the main part of her meal and was left with a few desultory carrots.
Usually I’m fairly relaxed about what the children eat but for some reason when she pushed her plate away with her vegetables unfinished I saw red.
“Eat your carrots “. ” No” came the reply. “Come on sweetie, just eat some of them for Mum”. Cue lots of head shaking and verbal protestation that somehow resolved itself into me agreeing she could just eat 3 of the leftover carrots.
Picture the scene now. Reluctant child (who it must be said has a little reputation as somewhat of a drama Queen) loads up her fork with one of the carrots, immeasurably slowly lifts it to her mouth, takes a tiny bite and starts to gag on it.
This is where I lose my patience and accuse her of trying it on. Her eyes fill with tears as she attempts to eat the carrot again and dramatically nearly covers the table in vomit.
For some reason, perhaps because my mum is visiting us and I’m trying to demonstrate I’m a good parent, I stick to my guns and refuse to back down. She will eat those 3 carrots or stay there all evening. My mum wisely says nothing.
Now neither of us is getting our way. My husband tries to back me up and reiterates she needs to eat the blooming carrots.
She has now worked herself up into a state and we have reached carrot stalemate. We really need an unbiased delegation or the U. N to sort this one.
In the end I’m so cross I issue an unnecessary ultimatum, she eats the carrots or she goes to bed. She flies up the stairs in tears.
I look ruefully around those left at the table and murmur “well that went well…..”.
Of course like many things in the life of a parent this situation was smoothly and amicably resolved.
A few minutes later I went upstairs, pulled her on my knee, dried her tears and had a proper talk with her wherein she disclosed she doesn’t like carrots. They make her feel sick. I replied I was trying to get her to eat a healthy diet and she needed some vegetables to achieve that and we compromised by her eating a few more potatoes instead.
In hindsight things never needed to have escalated so far. I don’t feel I was wrong in trying to encourage her to eat some healthy food but I was wrong to lose my temper and make such a big deal about it.
But that I think is one of the big things you learn in life as you get older. To pick your battles.
What needs to be a big deal and what doesn’t. And obviously I’m still learning that!