“I don’t like that,” she said as her eyes graze over the food, then turned straight back around to march out of the room.
“I don’t need a treat,” she adds from her bedroom.
My husband and I exchange looks of unsurprised displeasure tinged with resignation. Despite meals being the way we keep time during these ‘corona days,’ this has been our three year old’s response to dinner more often than not.
From our seats at the table, we project our voices to her tiny retreating body, reminding her one last time that our current dinner rule is that if you choose not to eat dinner (or enough dinner, or the dinner we made), then you choose not to have a treat — a rule she obviously is quite familiar with, given her preemptive acknowledgement that she doesn’t need a treat.
The six year old seated across from us serves as a reminder that this sort of reckless behavior is only a season. I mean, what three year old thinks she doesn’t “need’ a treat? The way children in the 3-6 range learn the ability to use logic & reasoning to harness self-control seems to grow exponentially (hallelujah). She even flexes her powers of persuasion muscles and tries to convince her little sister to come sit and eat with us.
“If you come eat your dinner, you’ll get a treat!” she reframes the choice in a more positive way.
So, we can just look at the bright side, yes? If all else fails, at least we know that in three years, she will probably choose to eat dinner with us (especially if there’s a treat involved afterward).