So my lawfully wedded wife, The Lovely Rhonda, has this child. This child who is five. This five year old child who is really, really five. She’s five all the time. She’s five when she gets up, and five when she goes to bed, and five all of the hours and minutes and seconds in between.
Today, for example, this five-ness has manifested in several distinct ways.
The morning went fairly smoothly, aside from the agonizing wait for breakfast. Really, it was grueling. I was making oatmeal and the one child in the house who does not care for oatmeal was already having her bowl of Honey Nut Not Oatmeal Cereal. This, of course, was difficult for anyone who is five to tolerate.
Um Debwa. Is bweakfast weady?
Well can you at weast CHECK on it and see if it’s —
At this point she was cut off by her mother who notified her that this was perhaps not the most polite thing to say.
Things went on more or less without incident until lunchtime. I was told that she was “starving to death” after her lengthy and eventful soccer game, and so anticipated that she might actually eat her lunch, but no. She was served a sandwich and a small amount of soup. She ate the two saltines that came with the soup and nibbled at the sandwich, guzzled the apple juice, sucked three noodles off the soup spoon and began the most prolonged dawdle that has ever been witnessed in captivity.
Before either of you get excited that we have unrealistic expectations about this child’s ability to eat one sandwich and a half cup of soup, let it just be said that she is famous for eating, at most, a third of what is presented to her, no matter how miniscule this amount may be, and then declaring herself full. Thirty minutes later she will begin a tireless campaign for snacks that ends only when the next meal is served. She will make endless plaintive cries of “But I’m hungwy!” and act as though we are starving her, perhaps in between beatings. She will repeat this at each meal regardless of whether a snack was provided or how long it has been since she last ate.
So, it’s not like we never feed her and it’s not like we demand that she eat endless platefuls of food. We would just like her to make the effort to consume something resembling a reasonable amount of food at a meal such that she is adequately nourished for, say, more than an hour.
Today she dragged this mealtime torture on for close to ninety minutes. At last she finally ate the sandwich and the soup. If she asks me for a snack in an hour I will grit my teeth and try not to break whatever I happen to be touching at that moment. Wish me luck.
All of the children have been mandated to clean their rooms today and she is no exception. To her credit, she is better about this than when she was four. When she was four she would act as though we were lighting her on fire if we requested that she begin putting a few toys away while waiting for an adult to assist her. She would sit on her bed and scream like we were beating her. Now she just dorks around in there until someone comes and tells her to pick up five toys and put them away. It’s not any more effective but at least it’s quieter.
Today she went to her room as directed after lunch and, inexplicably, emerged a few minutes later wearing only underpants. I had thought she wanted to perhaps change out of her soccer clothes, although this did seem out of character, but I was trying to give her the benefit of the doubt. She went back into her room and when I went to check on her had put the same clothes back on and was sitting on the floor with her knees stuck under her shirt stretching it out. We had already been through this at the table, because obviously if you’re going to displease the wardens by going on a hunger strike the thing to do just to make it worth your time is to stretch your brand new soccer shirt out of shape while sitting at the table. So, I now required her to hand the shirt over and put on something less appealing, i.e. not her brand new soccer shirt but just any old regular shirt out of her drawer.
Oh, the humanity. Clearly I am the meanest person in the world.
UPDATE: As predicted, ONE HOUR LATER she asked me for some fruit snacks. I managed not to break anything. But she didn’t get any @#$&ing fruit snacks either. OMG.