It was the same drama that plays itself out in every household at some point. Parent serves a meal, kid refuses to eat it. Kid makes a request (in this case, extra maple syrup), promising to eat it, then doesn't. Power struggle ensues. No one wants to "lose".
This hasn't happened before. T is pretty easygoing about food - we give her a couple of choices and she picks one. But today she pitched a fit, spit it out, and got everyone all riled up. We found ourselves in a situation where we couldn't back down, or at least that's how it felt at the time.
After both of us took a long nap, I figured a way to disengage without giving in would be to present the oatmeal again at lunch, with something else to eat chosen by us. (In our case, a hot dog.) No more choices would be offered today (we typically let her choose most things - what to wear, activities, etc.). When she turned down our choices, we told her that if she ate the oatmeal like she promised in the morning, then she could make her own choices. Apparently this wasn't worth it. (I have to give her credit for her
The oatmeal reappeared at dinner, along with shrimp, which she really likes. She finally agreed to eat the oatmeal in order to get more shrimp so we alternated bites of oatmeal and shrimp. She proceeded to eat the entire bowl of oatmeal without incident, much to my surprise. She got her choices back - what to wear to bed, what to watch before bed, etc. And even earned a star for her potty-training chart. (She's 2 half-days away from getting a toy she's wanted for a couple of weeks.)
I don't feel very good about how this went down. In general, it makes me very uneasy to "force" a particular food on someone. I'm not willing to be a short order cook, for sure - we let her choose one of two or three options, typically, so that she'll eat something, but if she doesn't want it, she can choose to eat it or not eat it. There are no other options until the next meal or snacktime. But I don't feel the need to "exert my authoritay" on her, certainly not on something this inconsequential. But age 3 is a bit...difficult.
We got into the power struggle, and couldn't get out. I was tired having barely slept last night (thank you heartburn and snoring). She was tired from her messed up sleep schedule for 2 weeks, despite our best efforts to get her back on track. TJ was annoyed about the spitting, my grouchiness, and the tantrum. We found ourselves "stuck".
I'm still not sure what the right course of action would have been - maybe not even getting her to *try* the oatmeal would have preempted the spitting and tantrum. Or perhaps this was an unavoidable train wreck given everyone's lack of sleep.
Sigh. But like the old adage about never going to bed with unresolved issues in a relationship, I feel like we worked this out as best we could. And tomorrow is another day.