The Negotiator

How many of you have experienced this scenario at meal times?

“How many more mouthfuls of dinner until I can have pudding?”
“All of it. Eat all your dinner.”
“No. How many mouthfuls but don’t say all of it.”
“Well you’ve hardly eaten any, so 55 mouthfuls.”
“Now you’re being ridiculous. How many mouthfuls and say a proper number like 10.”
“Ok, 10 more mouthfuls. But mouthFULS, not just a sliver on the end of your fork.”
“How about 8?”
“No. I said 10.”
“But you meant 8 didn’t you?”
“Err, no.”
“I’ll eat 8 and then shall we decide then?”

This is a regular and infuriating conversation I have with my 4 year old daughter at the dinner table.
It’s a constant negotiation and has become so bad I’ve started increasing the amount I put on her plate to compensate.
I’m not a ‘finish your plate’ kind of mum by any means. You eat until you’re satisfied, then you can have a pudding if you still want one. Or if mummy hasn’t eaten them all. Or hidden them so she can eat them all.
But the trouble is, the minute Mia has polished off her pot of yoghurt or bowl of custard or whatever, 15 minutes later she’s asking for ‘snacks’.

“What about this cottage pie you’ve left? Shall I warm that up for you?”
She looks at me like I’ve asked her to eat mud, chooses to pretend I don’t exist, turns her back on me and starts rooting through the fridge.

Today the art of negotiation has moved up another notch.

“Mummy, do you want to swap your carrots for my potatoes?” I have 1 solitary sliver of carrot left on my plate.
No thank you. I’m going to eat all my own dinner thank you.”
“Well how many mouthfuls then?” Oh brother.
I give her a look that says ‘ask me that question one more time and you may just be wearing that meal’.
I think she picks up my vibes and sits quietly spearing a ‘bush’ of broccoli then asks: “Can I have a drink please mummy?”
I feel a warm glow upon me as the flush of parenting success makes me sneak a crafty smile as I get up to go to the fridge.
I sit back down and she’s still prodding at a lone piece of broccoli. Holy cow, she’s nearly finished. No more negotiating. The look was all that required obviously!
I look at my plate, and there joining my single sliver of carrot are a clutch of new friends, 2 potatoes and a telltale trail of gravy joining our two plates together.

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