This morning I had a bit of a hiccup with my first grader. As she inspected the lunch that I had made for her, she announced that she no longer likes the vegetarian chicken nuggets that have been the main staple of her diet for the last four years. I calmly told her that, after all, she has loved these little morsels for two-thirds of her life, there are only five foods on this planet that she will eat, and 6:45 a.m. on a school day is not a good time to have a taste bud revolution. She listened and thought for a moment. She then looked at me and sweetly retorted with just a smidge of condescension: “Mama, don’t you know? People change.”
I looked at her, lost in the sincerity of her face. At a loss for words, I was all at once, impressed, frustrated, and filled with a sense of inadequacy. I tried to solve the problem by reasoning with her. But I was not in the frame of mind to do that and none of my strategies were working. Eventually, she went skipping off to the living room to play with the dog and I slumped upstairs to get dressed. I felt overwhelmed with the crushing responsibility of identifying yet another nutritious food that my daughter might accept. Like a football coach accepting defeat as my team of chicken nuggets were sent shuffling back to the locker room. The weight of the problem seemed insurmountable. Why was this so upsetting? Was it me? (Yes dear, I’m afraid so.)
I went to my room and closed the door. That was smart. I took a breath. Yes, I needed that. I gave myself a five-minute time out. Good choice. And just as I was beginning to feel calmer, I decided to weigh myself. What? I stared at the numbers on the scale. They were mocking me, as they expanded, billowing out like huge unmanageable clouds of fat. Suddenly, my fragile peace of mind was gone. I stepped into the shower five pounds heavier than I was when I woke up that morning. I wanted to cry. Was it me? (Um… I’m afraid so.)
My mood worsened when got out of my three-minute shower to find that the children had not made any progress in their morning routine. We only barely managed to gather ourselves together in time to make a dead run to the car armed with full cereal bowls, socks, shoes, backpacks, lunches, and musical instruments. Somewhere between the garage and the school yard, the kids would have to get dressed and fed on their own. As I negotiated the well known short cuts on our drive to school and began to make up time, I felt myself relaxing. The children were laughing with each other and I could see that we would arrive on time. That would have been a great time to enjoy the absence of chaos, in blissful silence. But instead, I chose that moment to announce that I had an unexpected business meeting that evening and their least favorite babysitter would be staying with them. I was immediately enveloped with whining and complaining. How did this happen? What was I thinking? Was it me?