I return to you today to tell the story of The Waffle, which entered my life this past Wednesday, July 13, 2022.
My son, who is almost six years old, is entertaining a phase of eating a snack before bedtime. He has embraced the ritual fully, not skipping any days even if it means giving himself a belly ache because dinner was just 26 minutes ago. He cycles between foods for this important snack and the current favorite is waffles. Typically, one waffle and some syrup does the trick and he’s off to bed happily.
On Wednesday though, things got a little weird. My son ate the waffle. Then my husband let the dog outside, noticed that the weather was nice and suggested they play ball in the yard. They do, but it’s bedtime and the boy is tired so it doesn’t go great. Three minutes later they call it quits and come back inside. The next thing I hear is, “I’m having a waffle!” Considering he just had a waffle, I say, “You just had a waffle, you can have an apple instead.” And that was the last time a waffle was a simple food lodged in my freezer.
My son proceeded to completely and utterly lose his shit over being told “no”. Think of the worst tantrum you have ever witnessed from a child, then add in how you would feel if your dog ate the last plate of your Thanksgiving leftovers when you weren’t looking – this is the level of mania that possessed the child.
A few things to note: had I known the damn waffle mattered so much, I would have GLADLY given him the whole bag. And my suggestion that he eat something like an apple was a simple proposal, it really didn’t matter that much to me. It was more of a knee-jerk reaction and an opportunity to try to feed my child something with a few more nutrients because that’s what I’m told you’re supposed to do. Then, when I could clearly see that the waffle was going to be the end of us, it was unfortunately too late to change course. Now that he was throwing a tantrum over it, in principle I could not give it to him because then he might learn that such bad behavior gets rewarded. Finally, and most importantly, I knew from the get-go that this was all a losing battle that I had accidentally started.
He claimed that he would not stop until he got the waffle; I knew he was not lying. I tried my damndest to communicate that this behavior would not get him what he wanted, that he needed to calm down, if he were truly hungry then he would eat something else, etc., etc., but all the while there was a panicked voice in my head reminding me that persistence beats resistance.
So, what do you think happened? A long, long hour after the ordeal began, my husband and I finally get him into bed sans waffle only for him to come right out and make himself a waffle, eat it, re-brush his teeth, then go to bed peacefully. Sigh.
As with most things parenting, hindsight is 20/20. There were many opportunities to learn and grow thanks to this experience. The thing that gets me the most is the sheer futility and stupidity of it all: an evening ruined and an hour wasted and SO much energy spent all for a waffle? Yeah, not going to happen again if I can help it. Since then, I see a potential “waffle” (fight) that I could pick and instead I have been practicing walking away saying, “No. This is The Waffle. I can let it go.”