So maybe I’m a great friend and a not-so-great parent. Truth is, I never wanted kids and after watching some of my friends raising some, I’ve come to the realization that it’s not an easy feat. After realizing that moving-in together would have to wait a bit longer, I suggested to BD that we spend weekends together to get acclimated to the idea of living together. I especially felt that the Minnie and I needed some getting acquainted in the cohabitating area. I mean, it’s obvious BD and I will have no issues living together, but bringing a child into the mix usually changes things – shoot, it changes things in straight married couples who have their own biological offspring, so why wouldn’t it have an effect on ours? For dinner Saturday night I opted to take the easy way out and just served Stouffers Pizza – straight from the box to the oven to the dinner table. The Minnie loved his casual, easy fare, but began picking the green peppers from the Three Meat and Pepper variety I served. As I sat, slightly disgusted by his picking the pizza apart, I finally asked, “Why are you pulling stuff off your pizza and even fishing stuff out of your mouth to put on the side of your plate?” He looked at me matter-of-factly and announced, “I don’t like the green stuff.” I looked at BD and then back at the Minnie wondering whether this would be an appropriate time for a little old-school Cocoa-parental-hand-me-down to take place. “First of all, have you ever had green peppers before?” A nonplussed Minnie shot back a simple, “No.” “Then why are you pulling them off? They’re actually delicious,” I tried. “Well, I don’t like them,” he retorted. I thought about the delicious sugary snacks I bought the night before and how he wasn’t going to touch a thing if he didn’t have this pizza. “It’s rude to pull things out of your mouth in front of company and if you must there’s a way to do it. More important, if you don’t eat your dinner, please don’t ask for any dessert or snacks afterward.” The Minnie is very strong-willed and shot back a quick, “That’s fine, but I’m not eating the stuff I don’t like.” Not to be outdone – especially by an 8-year old – I gave him a steely glare before informing the Minnie, “If you’re done, you can wash your hands and be excused.” He took a few more bites before jumping up, washing his hands and returning to his video games. As I washed dishes in the kitchen and talked to BD about appropriate home training – including the issue of the Minnie not having his regular meals in their entirety and then wanting snacks to quell his hunger later, the Minnie sauntered back into the kitchen. “I’ll have a donut now please.” The sneer that comes with redemption crossed my face. I turned off the water from the sink, grabbed my dish towel and dried my hands before responding, “No, you won’t have anything else, since you already said you were full at dinner.” BD respected my interaction with the Minnie and never intervened. “I didn’t say I was full. I said I was finished,” the Minnie corrected me. “Well, you’re completely finished here as far as I’m concerned. You’re going to learn – at least with me – that you can eat snacks and desserts so long as you don’t waste our regular meals. You will not throw away good food only to have sugary snacks. Please go play your video games and don’t bother coming back to the kitchen until it reopens tomorrow morning.” He paused as if ready to say something else, but thought better of it. He returned to his games and I returned my attention to BD. “That is the way it works. He should be eating regular meals along with these fill-in snacks.” BD assured me that the reason his eating habits were off could be attributed to his grandma (BD’s mom) feeding the Minnie anything he wanted; whenever he wanted. “Well you’re the dad and there is some home training that needs to be established,” I continued “He cannot be allowed to pick his food apart at the dinner table, place his feet on furniture and basically run uncontrolled in the home.” BD agreed and I felt a sense that although this won’t exactly be a piece-of-cake, it can certainly be worked-through to bring about some structure. As I dropped off the BD and the Minnie at their house last night and got out to hug the Minnie, he kissed my cheek and I hugged him tighter to me. I drove home deep in my thoughts. Just as I began to wonder whether imposing my own home training on the Minnie was appropriate, I realized that I unconsciously had answered my own question. Yes, it’s appropriate. At the very least, the Minnie is a guest in my home and at best, he’s my future step son. We have to have a semblance of structure if we’re going to coexist.
Have you encountered a spoiled child first-hand that forced you to react in the absence of control by their parent(s)?
Keep passin’ the open windows…