We the people, in order to form a more perfect family, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for our family.
So we held a family meeting the other day. It has been about a year since the last time we convened. The last time was a bit of a disaster...Anna sat straight faced, all the while farting through the entire meeting. Sara was so upset by Anna's lack of civility that she added "No farting during family meetings" to our list of family rules. We have the picture to prove it. Fast forward a year and our latest family meeting. The meeting was Sara's suggestion. As I was putting her to bed she told me that she didn't think it was fair that Chuck and I get to make all the rules and they have to follow them. So I thought for a minute and I realized that she was right. It was a bit of a dictatorship within our home. I told her that we could all sit down in the morning and have a family meeting to come up with some solutions that would make everyone happy. I told her to think about it over night and get back to me in the a.m. Off to sleep she went...and boy could I see the wheels turning in her head as she drifted off...
Just to set the stage, Sara's discontent with the rules came from an incident that happened earlier that day. I made the girls a nice, well rounded, fun and nutritious lunch. Surprise, surprise...they didn't eat it. I am so sick of wasting food. That is one of the things that bothers me to no end. There are so many hungry children in this world and I have kids that waste food without a thought. I know that is a huge global life lesson and is beyond their developmental level of understanding. However, I dug my heels in and took a stand. I asked 3 times if they were sure that they were done..all 3 times they rolled their eyes and said yes. So I had them clear their plates and they went off to play. Not 2 minutes later they came in and asked for a snack. I told them that if their bellies were too full for lunch then they were too full for a snack. They protested. I reminded them that I asked 3 times if they were done and reminded them that they very clearly told me they were. I then told them that they would have to wait until dinner...no snacks. That was going to be 3.5 hours. Not a huge gap of time, but enough time for them to feel hungry. I wanted to teach them a life lesson. Keep in mind these 2 are grazers. They would snack all day long if they could. A while back we had to implement a snack ticket system to keep their snacking at bay. They are allotted a pre-set number of snacks for the day. They then need to "buy" their snack with a snack ticket (a raffle ticket). This is in an effort to teach them about pacing themselves, delayed gratification, the value of "money" and healthy eating habits.
So, they did not like my plan at first. They whined and carried on but then they got involved with an activity and forgot all about it. I did allow them to have drinks...I am not a total jerk...and they did each have a yogurt smoothie which could be counted as a snack on a technicality....About 25 minutes before dinner they caught me in my room eating some almonds. In all fairness to me I DID eat my lunch so I could have a snack. Well, that pissed them off to no end. Chuck comes in and Anna (2 years old) rats me out telling her daddy that "mommy won't give us any food...we couldn't eat anything for hours"...OK, so that was the truth but she kind of left out a huge piece of the story. I filled him in on what was going on, made him promise not to cave the last 15 minutes while dinner was cooking and off I went to Market Basket. He held up his end of the bargain and guess what? They ate their entire dinner. Life lesson learned? Check? This will come back to bite me in the ass the next day.
Back to the family meeting...So we all gather round the kitchen table. Sara wants me to get everyone up to speed as to why she wants the meeting. Then I ask her what rules she opposes. She does not like the fact that Chuck and I tell them when they go to bed. They think they should get to decide. I thought about it and I decided that they should be able to decide when they go to bed. "OK girls, you are right, you can decide when you are ready for bed. You can pick anytime to go to bed in between Seven-four-five and eight-one-five" (7:45-8:15). That is democracy parenting style...allow them to get YOUR way, all the while thinking they are getting THEIR way. They agreed to that new ruling. For the record that was their pre-existing bedtime. Sara was drunk with power by now. So she then tells us she thinks that they should get a snack with lunch (and then very quickly added and with breakfast and dinner too!). So again, I let them get "their" way and said that if they ate their whole sandwich/bowl of cereal/etc. they could have a snack with it. Typically I make their lunch with 2 "sides". I am just going to withhold a side and give it to them as a snack and that is going to make me a hero. Psychological mind games with the preschool set is so in my wheelhouse. Chuck did propose that we have a dessert every night after dinner. The girls thought that was the best rule of all. I think I may follow Alcina's family rule of one night a sweet for dessert, the next night fruit. I always thought that was sensible. I am just going to have to make the fruit look "fun" so I don't get the stink eye from my 3 housemates.
Chuck added a rule; that the girls be just as nice and listen to him as well as they do to me. I also told them that I was not going to nag them all day about picking up their toys. They would just need to make sure they were picked up before bed time. Sara and Anna agreed to our rules. Somehow though, we are expected to follow their addendum's to our house rules but they have not been pulling their weight. Funny...didn't see that coming!
So back to the no snacks until dinner biting me in the ass. So I came home from work the other night. I get home at 7:30 and hadn't had anything to eat since about 12:30. I was ready for dinner. Anna asks me to read her a story. I tell her I will read 1 book and then I am going to have dinner. Sara comes along just as I finish the book, she asks me to read one. I tell her the same thing. I will read you 1 book and then I am going to have dinner. She then starts in with I play with Anna all the time and not her, etc. etc. I explain that I haven't had anything to eat since lunch and I really need to have dinner. She didn't care. I told her that when we had lunch together that was the last time I got to eat something, but she got to have snacks, dinner and dessert. To which she responds, "mom, now you know how we felt when you wouldn't let us eat any food. It doesn't feel too good, does it?". Touche Sara, touche.