A Chimps Tea Party by The Shed of The Father

This week’s post comes from Mark at http://www.theshedofthefather.wordpress.com/ and you can also find him on Instagram. Go check him out and please leave him some feedback here.

Our two little devils have very different tastes when it comes to food.

Charlie will eat most things that are put in front of him. Whether that’s pizza, pasta, roast dinner or some sort of fish, he sits there for ages chewing away until it’s gone. My grandad had a thing that he stuck to all through his 83 years alive which was that every mouthful had to be chewed forty times. Charlie doubles that! He just loves his food.

In fact he sat at the dinner table one evening as a 3 year old and kept on shovelling chicken and mashed potato into his mouth to the point where there was no room left and he was sick all over the floor. Being the polite little boy he is, he even apologised for it afterwards. I sometimes worry that he is too nice. But that’s a whole different subject that I will attempt to cover soon.

Until recently, Lily was slightly different. When I say slightly, I mean the complete fucking opposite. Almost every dinner time was met with “EEEEUUUUURRRRGGGGHHHH, I’m not eating that”, followed by a big argument about manners and family time. I argued with her every meal time. This made the expected family bonding time fucking horrible.

Apart from Charlie who seems oblivious to what’s going on at the best of times, we all ended up feeling like Rocky Balboa after the first few rounds against Ivan Drago. I tried every way of getting around this, from the stern to the begging, but it always ended up the same. It was a nicer, less stressful time at dinner when she was elsewhere in the house.

That thought makes me sad. Getting her to sit with us was like nailing jelly to a wall and the constant irritating of Charlie when she finally did sit down, made us all stressed out. I often thought I was doing something wrong, which in turn made me feel like I was failing once again as a parent. The stress would begin way before this as I thought about what to cook for dinner. Would she like it? Would she turn her nose up? Would I have to cook something else as I couldn’t let her starve?

All this before even sitting down to eat created a tension in my head and chest that felt like it was squeezing the life out of me. It was like a slow motion film of a grenade going off as she entered the kitchen to see what dinner I had dared to prepare for her…..here she came approaching the kitchen, my heart was pounding knowing that I was about to launch out of my chair and BOOM! “What’s that?” she screams! And that’s when the shit hits the fan. At my lowest point last year I did actually shout “Fuck off!”. I am ashamed to say I said that a few times. Awful I know. And another reason why I had to get help. That’s no way to talk to anyone, let alone a child and I knew that then, I just couldn’t contain my anger some days.

Now dinner times are different. Through my CBT sessions (post here) I learnt that I need to change my expectations and therefore deflect that grenade before the pin even comes out. I now cook a completely different dinner for Lily if I know there’s a chance that she may not like it. If she doesn’t come down for her dinner when I call her, I don’t continue to call her. I let her come when she wants to. I almost expect her to not like the dinner, so much so that when she actually does sit down and say “Thank you daddy”, I am genuinely shocked.

Is this bad parenting? I’d like to think that it’s more a case of damage limitation. Is this going to affect her for the rest of her life? Again I’d like to think that having less confrontations will pay dividends. It already has in a way. We get on better now than we ever have. It’s not all plain sailing but I do not let her get to me as much I used to which in turn means I’m less stressed, This makes a massive difference to our family dynamics.

At the end of the day, I’m the Daddy. The man of the house. I should be calm and controlled and able to solve anything. At least the that’s the pressure I put on myself. That’s just me.

I’ll continue to try and improve my ways. I’m learning something new about parenting every day. In fact, I’m learning something new about myself every day and that’s a nice feeling.

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