Don’t Waffle On Discipline

I thought I had such a good idea for a punishment. I was ready to stick to my guns, to settle in for a long battle. I underestimated how many waffles my daughter can eat.

Like most weekend mornings, we made waffles for breakfast yesterday. Apple cinnamon don’t ya know. The two older kids each got half a waffle and some fruit. I usually have two waffles, but I knew I was going for a run later in morning and didn’t want to be weighed down by breakfast. I had one and half leftover. After eating their halves and their strawberries, both kids then asked for an orange too. Sure, no problem.

While they were sitting at the table eating their oranges, my wife went to go feed the baby and I went to the bathroom. Upon returning form the bathroom I find my three-year-old has taken the rest of the waffles, ripped them in to smaller pieces, and put them on her plate. “I was just putting them on my plate,” she tells me.

I know she had to rip them by hand, and I could see she had already dipped some of them in syrup. There was no way these were going to be salvageable leftovers. I asked her why she took all of the waffles, she didn’t really have an answer. I asked her what if somebody else wanted to have more. Clearly that possibility had never entered her mind before that instant. And then it came to me – she was going to sit there and not leave the table until she ate all of the waffles she took.

At first she looked confused, so I explained again that because she was selfish and took all of the waffles and now nobody else can have any, that she would eat them all and not get up play or do anything until they were all gone. Realizing that I was angry about this and not just encouraging her to take a few more bites, she looked like she was going to cry.

I prepared myself for a fit. I poured a cup of coffee and braced for a long morning. I pictured her taking a bite every few minutes while constantly asking if she can go play. Her crying when her little sister was allowed to go play. Long periods of screaming. In my mind, this might last all the way until lunch time.

She didn’t cry though, she picked up her fork and got to eating. With a little more syrup she pretty quickly finished all the little pieces she had torn up and moved onto the larger chunks she could pick up and eat by hand. A little more syrup for dipping and she was making excellent progress. I thought, surely she must be getting full. Surely her pace will slow and she’ll say she’s full and can’t finish the rest. Too bad! That’s what I’ll tell her! Better start getting my dad voice warmed up.

But she just kept eating. Frankly, I was impressed.

Without so much as a pout, she finished the remaining waffle and and half, bringing her total breakfast intake to two waffles, a few strawberries, and an orange. More than double what I ate. If I ever catch her smoking I’m sure as hell not making try to smoke the whole pack. She’ll see that punishment and raise me a Macanudo.

I wondered, did I stumble upon a talent? Could my daughter be the next great competitive eater? Watch your back Joey Chestnut, here comes a three-year-old who wants to show her dad what’s up. Today, spite waffles. Tomorrow, sarcastic hot dogs.

Now that I know making her eat them all is not an effective punishment, I guess if something like that happens again I’ll have to take whatever it is away and eat it myself while she sits and watches. I have a feeling that would end up being worse on me. Is gaining a few pounds worth teaching my kid a lesson? These are the tough questions nobody prepares you for when you have kids.

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