How can you have any ice cream if you don’t eat your pasta?

Here’s the song reference.

We shared Sunday dinner with Nonno and Deedaw yesterday evening.  Mr. Man, being a generally bright lad, has long since figured out that Deedaw keeps stashes of all manner of treats around the house with which to delight the grandchildren, and has become quite adept at finagling goodies from his paternal grandmother.  Our general rule is that Nonno and Deedaw make the rules for snacks at their house, and that so long as they eat their dinner, Deedaw is welcome to indulge them.  She’s pretty sensible about it, really, although the littler the child, the higher the likelihood that he or she will be able to cadge an unwarranted sweet.

It’s been rather a long week for all of us; there’s been a lot of unwelcome news, and as we’ve all struggled to get our heads to stop spinning, the kids have gotten away with a few things.  Unfortunately, two-year-old boys accept exceptions as norms very quickly.  We sat down to dinner last night and tucked in to the customary Sunday evening pasta; last night’s offering was linguine, which is normally a favorite of all four tiny people, some of whom are learning to twirl long noodles, some of whom have figured out the joy of slurping them.  Baby Guy is particularly enthusiastic about the latter practice, and he and Mr. Man are normally jubilant when they see a plate festooned with long pasta.

Last night, we had a bit of a Mr. Man revolt.  After about two bites of linguine, Mr. Man decided his dinner was done and that it would be a fine time to have some ice cream, or a popsicle, or both.  Flashing his biggest eyes and most winsome smile, he looked over at Deedaw and, folding his hands by his rosy cheek, wheedled, “Mah I haf some ice cweam ow a popsicle, pweeeease?”

Nonno looked at Mr. Man’s nearly untouched plate.  “No, not unless you eat your pasta.”

Mr. Man gave Nonno a shocked look, then turned back to Deedaw and pleaded, “I not can eat mo’ pasta.  Want ice cweam now, pwease?”

At least he remembered to say “please.”

Nonno, Deedaw, Manie and I exchanged looks, and had to quickly break eye contact to keep from laughing, so as not to break the united expressions of disapproval with which Mr. Man was being confronted.  I explained to him, “Mr. Man, we eat dinner before dessert.  You have not eaten your dinner, and therefore may not have dessert.  First finish your pasta, then you may have ice cream if Deedaw has any.”

“Deedaw have ice cweam?”

Deedaw chimed in, “Yes, Deedaw has ice cream, but Mr. Man will not have ice cream unless he eats his dinner.”

Another thousand-watt smile from Mr. Man, amid giggles from Baby Guy.  Bugaboo and Beanie, meanwhile, were stolidly eating their pasta and trying very hard not to look at one another.  “I not eat da dinner.  I eat ice cweeeeeeeam,” crowed Mr. Man, flinging wide his arms so vigorously that he nearly toppled off his chair.

We heard a strangled sound from Deedaw, and glanced over to see her vigorously wiping at something that musthave been covering her whole face with her napkin.

If you have ever tried to reason with a two-year-old, you already know that the conversation continued in the same vein for about 20 minutes.  Mr. Man not only did not eat the pasta, but he also did not get any ice cream — or pie, or popsicles, or chocolate chips (which I call “the Deedaw special”), or cookies.  The wailing and other protestations were pretty energetic, but we held our ground.

As I was finishing the dinner dishes and putting away the last of the salad, Mr. Man shuffled forlornly into the kitchen.  He peered into the salad bowl, and brightened when he saw a host of little orange circles therein.  “Mommy, I haf some cawwots, pwease?”

“You bet, Mr. Man.  Here you go.”  I filled his upturned palm with carrots.  “Why don’t you go sit at the table and let Deedaw see how a big guy like you has carrots for a snack?”

Off he tramped, announcing his arrival in the dining room with, “Deedaw, see, I haf cawwots now, I eat da cawwots.”  He received a hearty round of praise from Deedaw for eating his carrots so nicely.  No ice cream, but lots of hugs and compliments on his choice of carrots as a snack.

Today’s prayer:  Lord, thank You for the abundant food with which You have blessed us, and for never letting Your little blessings know real hunger of the body.  Help us feed them those things that will nourish and strengthen their bodies and souls, and help us teach them to appreciate all Your bounty, giving thanks for linguine and ice cream in equal measure.

Please share your thoughts! I don't know who reads this, but the stats tell me someone does. I'd like to know what you took from our little stories and prayers.

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