Every parent has them. Every parent dreads them. Today it was my turn for the “Battle of the Wills.”
Unfortunately, I didn’t walk away with a new car or a cruise vacation to some exotic spot. It wasn’t the prettiest win (if that’s what it was), but lessons were learned (on both sides) and my little boy still wants to kiss me before naptime.
It all started this morning at breakfast. We had a slew of new cereals from a successful grocery trip the previous day, and so I gave Jackson the option of which one he would like to have for breakfast. He chose Lucky Charms, I think partly because Kung Fu Panda was featured on the box. This is one of his current obsessions…just ask the roomful of kids and parents at story time today where before the librarian read the first story Jackson insisted on acting out a scene from the movie.
Now, I’ve been down this path before. Jackson will eat all the marshmallows and leave the cereal. We had a chat about this before he made his final decision, and he understood that in order to have the privilege of eating Lucky Charms, he had to eat ALL of it. He pledged that he would, and he was served.
We’ve recently had several mini-showdowns over meals, and we reached the climax today because it wasn’t about whether or not he liked the food. It was about whether or not he would obey.
Of course, the marshmallows were promptly eaten and the rest of the cereal sat in the bowl.
You’d think that eating sweetened cereal wouldn’t cause the end of the world as we know it, but the tantrum thrown could have caused doubts. After talking about his decision to eat this cereal, and that he must finish it, he sat without touching his bowl for the next one-and-a-half hours.
Eventually, story time hit, and I didn’t want my other child to miss out because of Jackson’s stubbornness, so the bowl was temporarily left, with the understanding that until the cereal was eaten, there would be no snacks or meals. So, when snacks were offered at the library, Jackson was not allowed the treat.
Things heated up again when we returned home and I started making lunch. When Matt came home, Jackson watched as we all ate and he sat with his cereal. He even dumped a whole cup of milk into the dry cereal because he thought he would be able to get away with not eating it because it quickly became soggy! Matt calmly went over, poured a new bowl and proceeded to pick out all the marshmallows. That sent Jackson over the edge, especially with all those marshmallows sitting just out of reach.
Then came the compromise I’m sure not everyone would agree with, but it’s what happened. Jackson ate the cereal, on the promise he could have the marshmallows. Each handful eaten equaled one marshmallow. However, he wouldn’t eat them unless I was sitting with him.
Four-and-a-half hours later, Jackson finished his breakfast.
As he and I were playing Hi-Ho Cherry-O later, I couldn’t help thinking how ridiculous the whole showdown was. And, God spoke to my heart, “Tell me about it!” You see, I so often hold out on God over the most spectacularly silly things (do you, too?). Many times they are good things He wants me to experience, but I only want the marshmallows and not the whole package. So, God makes me wait, and wait, and wait, until I am willing to accept everything He has for me, not just what I want.
I’m thankful that God is a better parent than I am! I am also grateful that His mercy has no end, especially when we all choose to dig in our heels about such unimportant things. He desires yielded, moldable hearts, and will arrange events and circumstances to produce that in us.
So, my lesson learned for today?
Don’t serve Lucky Charms to four-year-olds.