Summer Teenage Control Program

Mario copping his attitude while at Five Guys eating his fries!

Tonight, I turned into my father (AHHHHHH!).  I instituted the Toddler and Kindergartner Dinner Control Program.  Jon and I have done a horrid job at sitting down to dinner with the kids.  Both of us grew up having dinner with our parents, and want to carry that tradition down to Maria and Mario.  However, for numerous reasons (some lame and some legitimate), we have failed.  We both work and have used that as an excuse to order in food most of the days of the week or simply skip dinner and eat some random foods through the night.  Now, before we have Child Welfare knocking at our door, we do feed the children decent meals.  They just usually eat them at their little Dora table as Jon or I (sometimes both) watch them gobble up their food and begin play again.  If they are not eating at their little table, they are out with me at one of the parks eating a picnic dinner or at Panera or Cowtown Pizza.  During the Spring, Summer, and Fall, we live outside.  Therefore, we carry our dinner with us.  So, here comes Winter and darkness at 5 pm.  We need to make the change. 

Maria wanted a “feast” for this dinner so she decided on turkey dogs, peas, leftover pasta and meatballs, grapes, and bread.  We cooked the meal while Mario and Jon played in the dining room. 

Maria doing her model pose (as always) while eating her fry!

After fifteen whole minutes, we had our meal.  Maria and Jon cleared the dining room table, Maria placed a vase of flowers on it, and we served the dinner plates.  We all sat down.  Maria and Mario fought for five minutes about who got to say a meal prayer (Grandma Ionno instituted this ritual in them!).  Finally, Maria caved and Mario went first and Maria second.  We then began our next soon-to-be ritual: telling each other our favorite part of our day.  Mario again got to go first (yes, Maria is a saint and so patient).  Mario’s favorite part of the day was learning about manners at school (always say “please” and put a napkin in your shirt when you eat sloppy foods).  Maria’s favorite part was sitting next to her friends, Zach and Trent, at lunch and laughing about “silly things.”  Unfortunately, Jon was stopped cold in his story because at this point, Mario was standing up in his chair and dancing.  We scolded him to sit down and eat warning him that Spiderman only gets bigger if he eats his food (the only thing, if anything, that works on him to get him to eat).  Maria, by that time, was begging for some of my spaghetti since she had eaten her food.  Maria skirted all around her chair and managed to get cottage cheese and spaghetti sauce in her hair, on her forehead and on her shirt.  We were asking her to scoot around to the table when Mario stated he was finished (although he had only ate half of his hot dog and nothing else).  He lifted those tiny arms up with his palms facing upward pleading “But, mom, I am not hungry. My tummy will hurt.”

He knows exactly what to say.  Maria, meanwhile, was set on finishing the rest of my spaghetti.  She is a girl who knows how to eat well.  Unfortunately, I do not think Mario will rise to her level anytime soon.  Right in the midst of all of this, guess  who calls?  My Father!  The Architect of the Teenage Summer Control Program that I morphed into the Toddler and Kindergartner Dinner Control Program!  Little did he know what influence he had on his daughter. 

Maria and Mario ready for our Fall picnic at the park!

As soon as I got on the phone with him, the kids were out of their chairs and wrestling on the floor.  It had been 16 minutes since we began eating our dinner – not bad for the Programs’s first night.  Tomorrow we will explain the Program in more detail to the kids and try for 18 minutes.  I may also have to give them a carrot like my dad did for me and tell them if they sit in their seats for 18 minutes, they will get a yummy treat for dessert.  I better stack up on vanilla ice cream, whipped cream and skittles!

Just Say No

M&M at Krogers (for Halloween): a little better place to run around!

I should have declined. 

When my dad told me that he was bringing Grandma Menkedick and Grandpa Bill up to see my little brother in his first OSU play and that they wanted to have dinner with us prior to the show, I should have said “no.” Not because I dislike my Grandma Menkedick or Grandpa Bill.  In fact, every chance I get, I see them. But because my children display the absolute worst manners ever possible when out at a restaurant. 

My husband has mini-coronary arrests when we are out because he cannot stand the sight of them running around and acting goofy.  I, on the other hand, do not quite get to that level but I do get frustrated and anxious, especially when older guests are eating with us.  Why? Because 9.9 out of 10 of them do not find anything funny about two children running around the table, climbing underneath it, banging their spoons, and winging table scraps at each other.  In fact, they cannot even hide their disdain.  They either stare at them in disgust or they shake their heads and sport those disappointing faces with the mouth turned down and eyelids half-shut. 

Maria and Mario did better tonight than they have in months at other restaurants (may have had to do with Jon and I both lecturing them for the past few days about acting right or taking every privilege from tv to eating away from them!).  Nonetheless, they still didn’t sit still, they still moved chairs and climbed on them, and they still whined about how long the food was taking to arrive at our table. 

Grandma Menkedick just chuckles through it all but I heard her true feelings the other day when I called her.  She went on and on for 10 minutes about my cousin’s children and how well behaved they are when they eat with her.  I joked “and mine aren’t Grandma?”   She sat there in silence probably trying not to scream “Hell No!” and then responded with a slight laugh stating “You just have to keep working with them, Mary.”  Nonetheless, god love her, she did not make any comments while this was going on and she did not engage in any head movements or sighs that would make me even more anxious and irritable.  She is an extraordinary grandma to say the least. 

Grandpa Bill is pretty good, too.  Although, I still get the feeling that he reflects back to his days raising my stepmom and her brother and sisters and thinks “I would never have allowed….”  But, again, he gives slight smiles and sticks in there as the two crazy children climb on me and dump the salt and interrupt every word I say. 

So, again I walked out of the restaurant thinking “no way will I return until the children are 18, if then.”  Of course, I will be back in another week or two with the two of them in tow, meeting grandma or a cousin or a friend, and I will get that anxious and frustrated feeling back as I try to control the two nutballs.  If I was more of a disciplinarian, I would simply put them in the corner or enforce a no tv rule on them but so far I have found that I don’t have it in me.  Nonetheless, I feel the day a comin’ around the corner and when it does, watch out you two – I owe you some!