Tuesday, January 06, 2009

The War of the Cheerios

It is 10:00 am Monday morning, and a forlorn little boy is sitting at the breakfast table, his tears running down his cheeks and onto the table.  In front of him is a small bowl of Cheerios, which he has refused to touch for the last two hours.  His mommy's patience is wearing thin (ok, maybe the patience was gone long before that!) and finally she decides that enough is enough.  He can't sit there all day after all, and she certainly does not have the time to sit and supervise him.  The sad fellow is disciplined and sent off to play, which in the course of two minutes he completely forgets the whole experience.

Mommy does not forget however, and determines that this is one battle she is not going to lose!  The little guy absolutely loves Cheerios, and so she knows that he is refusing to eat them only to be in control of the situation.  Lunchtime comes around, and Mommy makes hot ham'n'cheese crescent sandwiches.  Both the little boy and his sister eagerly devour the tasty treats as Mommy brings them their side dishes.  The little girl is tickled that she gets to have potato chips and pickles, a rare treat;  but tears begin to fall again as the little fellow realizes that he is once again facing that bowl of Cheerios.  Every crumb of his sandwiches is eaten, but the Cheerios remain untouched.  Grim-faced, the mommy disciplines her son again and sends him off for his nap.  Miraculously, on a mostly empty tummy, he manages to fall asleep.

Battle two of the Cheerio war is over, but Mommy is busy preparing for the final conflict.  At least she hopes it is final.  AT dinnertime, she finds that her reinforcements (Daddy!) are working late, and she is left to face the enemy alone.  Still resolved that her little guy obey and eat his Cheerios, she sets them out alongside his tomato soup, while his sister gets cornbread.  Again the tears and the stubborn "no"s, and this time he is very distressed.  He is so hungry, but he ups the ante by refusing to eat his soup as well.  Mommy is at a loss.  All tactical plans have failed.  She bathes her young children and tucks them in bed.

Ahhh...retaliation of the enemy!  The little boy is not ready to go to sleep, and cries loudly, asking for milk, juice, spaghetti, cookies, anything BUT Cheerios.  Mommy's will falters slightly:  should she cave to his requests?  After all, she really doesn't want him to go to bed hungry, and he certainly does have the most pathetic "I'm suffering" look ever.  She finally brings him a small cup of milk and insists that he go to sleep.  Two hours later, he finally drifts off into slumber.  The mommy wishes that it had happened a lot sooner since it prevented her from getting her evening to-do list done.  She stays up late to finish her tasks.

Very tired, the mommy arouses her children on Tuesday morning and marches them down to the dining room for breakfast.  Although cranky and desperately wanting some "me" time, the mommy resolutely places the bowl of Cheerios in front of her son.  Once again, war wages.  he is NOT going to eat those Cheerios, and she is NOT going to let a 21-month old control the situation.  

Two hours later, she releases him from the table with firm discipline and begins blogging about the war.  She so wants her son to be happy, but even more desires that he obey.  Perhaps she is seeking tactical advice from her readers...

And just so you know how pathetic indeed this child can look...


  1. No, no, no Jeanette, dont give up! Hang in there! This will becomes just that much stronger in puberty and beyond. You are doing the right thing. I have been through many of those wars with my children. Once you start this you have to finish.

    After 26 years of parenting I have learned to avoid these situations. Instead of making them eat it I send them to time out and an early nap. But then the cheerios are done. For a 21 month old the discipline for the offense should really all be done swiftly and instantly.

    My best advice to parents is to not enter into a battle that they may not win. This battle is begun so you have no choice but to carry it to the bitter end.

    But I would gently advise you to make sure that you can swiftly win the battle in the few moments after the stubborn will is manifest.

    Prolonging and dragging out punishment definitely has to be done at times when a child is older but at this age I would just discipline and get it over with. Do you know what Im saying?

    But for now stick to your guns girl. He's old enough to realize he's in a battle with mommy!

    Hang in there. We've all been there.

  2. Why is it that these things are SO much harder on the mommy? I don't know how many people have told me that I'm lucky that I have "mild-mannered" kids, and thus have not had to go through those battle of the wills. SO not true!
    It's unbelievable (the only word for it) how stubborn a toddler can be. So incredibly cute, but still stubborn as a bull. Good job sticking to your guns Mom!

    As far as advice goes, I wouldn't dare try to improve on Mrs.Darlings:) She has been through the whole process from toddler to teen, so she definitely knows this battle zone better than I.

  3. so thanks Mrs. D. As always you have sound advice. We butted heads again at the lunch table so I immediately took him away from the table, disciplined him, and then we ceremoniously threw the Cheerios away. I think we were both relieved that it's over. Until the next time...

  4. Going through some of the same battles here with my 22 month old daughter. Let's hang in there.

  5. Way to go Jeanette!You have kept your place as ruling queen!

  6. eat the Cheerios, Davey!!! :) :)


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