Friday, June 21, 2013

What it's Like to Feed a Tired, Hungry Toddler: Real Excerpt from a Conversation With Claire

In case any of you were wondering how amazingly tremendous, awesomely fantastic parents manage tricky, high-tantrum-risk situations, here is a real life tutorial.  This is the one time in my life that I have successfully averted a tantrum, and it has been recorded for training purposes.

Context: Claire had fallen asleep before eating lunch, slept for a long time, peed herself while asleep, and woke up drenched and hungry.  She had to be bathed and dressed before she could eat, neither of which she was happy about.  The scene begins after dressing her.

Me: I bet you're hungry.  Are you hungry?

Claire: Yesh.  I hungy mama.

Me: Do you want cereal?

Claire: No.

Me: Do you want me to cut up an apple for you? A banana?

Claire: No.

Me: Do you want a hot dog?

Claire: Yesh.

Me: Yes? A hot dog?

Claire. Yesh Mama.  Hot gog.

Me: (Cooks hot dog, waits for it to cool off, puts it in front of Claire). Do you want dip (ketchup) on it?

Claire: Yesh.  I want dip dip.

Me: (Beginning to put dip on it).

Claire: NO!

Me: I thought you wanted dip.

Claire: On da plate, mama.  Not on da hot gog.

Me: Ok.  (Puts dip on plate).

Claire: (Picks up hot dog, dips in ketchup, starts crying).

Me: What's wrong? Do you want it out of the bun?

Claire: Yesh.

Me: (Takes it out of the bun). Here you go.

Claire: (Still crying). Eees hot!!  I can't eat it. Put it in da fridge to cool off.

It was totally NOT hot anymore, but arguing at this point would only cause backward progress.  It's absolutely futile.  Lesson: Arguing with a tired, hungry toddler is a terrible idea. DO NOT ATTEMPT. 

Me: Ok.  Let's do that. (Insert lukewarm hot dog into fridge for enough time to appease the girl.  Pull hot dog back out a few minutes later).

Claire: (Climbs excitedly into her seat, fist pumping and yelling). Eees ready!!

Me: Yup.  Here you go.

Claire: (Staring forlornly at her plate). I can't eat dis............ Ees....ees a hot gog.

Me: You said you wanted a hot dog.

Claire: I don't want a hot gog.  I can't eat it.

Me: Ok, what DO you want to eat?

Claire: I don't want hot gog.

Me: I know.  What do you want?

Claire: I don't want hot gog.

Me: (More slowly).  I....know.

Claire: I don't want hot gog.

Me:  Okay. Look. You don't have to eat the hot dog.  You need to tell me what you DO want so I can make it for you.

Claire: I don't want hot gog.

It is okay at this point to be thinking OMG and to be mentally ripping your hair out, but you must only communicate extreme patience.  If they sense that they are successfully aggravating you, it will escalate very quickly.  This will inevitably result in BOTH of you laying on the floor, crying and screaming.

Me: Ok, well I can't give you anything until you tell me what you want.  (I turn away at this point to clean the counter, pretending not to care at all).

Claire: (Picks up hot dog and starts eating).

It is crucial at this point that you don't make eye contact, or the food they're finally eating will be immediately rejected.  Again. With tears. 

After she ate the entire hot dog, she asked for another one.  After it cooled off in the fridge, she ate that whole one too.

So, in summation, when dealing with a hungry/angry/tired toddler, don't argue, show impatience or make eye contact.  If you do, THEY WILL CONSUME YOU.  You're welcome.


  1. This sounds like my every day lately. Sigh. -Jessee

  2. HA. I love that baby. And way to break it down for the rest of us to understand.