Last night was horrible.
For the past few nights, dinner had been an exceptional power struggle. Phoebie’s old bad habit of holding food in her mouth was back and it was driving me nuts. Ben had been scheduled to work late the past few nights, so he was not around.
After a few nights of an uncooperative preschooler at dinner, despite me cooking what she had requested, I blew up.
I had spent two hours sitting at the dining table with her, trying to control myself and refrain from yelling. I even took out a hanger and threatened to smack her if she still refused to eat properly. All I got in return was a tantrum throwing preschooler who kept saying she wanted to eat but was doing the exact opposite.
By the end of the two hours, I decided I had had enough and it was time to teach her a lesson.
I took her bowl of half eaten dinner away, told her she was to sit at the dining table with nothing to do until shower time, and that she wasn’t going to get any milk at bedtime since she didn’t want to eat. I told her she would have to go hungry.
By bedtime, I was red with anger. Phoebie was making goofy faces and didn’t seem to notice how angry I was.
Until I told her that she would have to sleep by herself.
She was still laughing when I turned off the light in her room and walked away.
And that was when all hell broke loose.
I remained in my room, feeding Breyen, while I heard the screams and cries from Phoebie’s room.
I so badly wanted to run over and hug her, but I couldn’t, partly because I was feeding Breyen, and also because I really wanted her to know I meant what I said.
She cried in her bed for 30 minutes, and then she walked over to my room, screaming and crying that she wanted me. Breyen had already fallen asleep but was awakened by Phoebie’s cries. I had to bite my tongue so that I wouldn’t yell at Phoebie for waking her baby brother up. I told her to go back to her room and wait for me there. She reluctantly did as she was told.
As I settled Breyen down for bed, I could hear Phoebie scream, “Nobody sayang me! Nobody sayang me!”
My heart was broken.
Who was I teaching a lesson?? My daughter? Or myself?
I walked over to Phoebie’s room and hugged her tight. I told her that I really love her and I was angry because she had refused to eat despite saying that she would. I asked her if she liked it when I was angry and she said no. I asked her if she liked going hungry, she said no. I asked her if she would refuse to eat dinner again, she said no.
I told her that I wanted her to eat well because I love her and I wanted her to grow.
After more hugs and kisses, I put her in bed.
By the time the night ended, I was exhausted, both physically and mentally.
Whether Phoebie has learnt her lesson, I don’t know. It certainly felt more like I was the one who was taught a lesson.