Monday, March 28, 2011

Serving Justice, One Cookie At A Time.

We spent some family time together this past weekend making these insanely delicious cookies. The girls had a blast getting messy in the kitchen, and I loved that they could nibble on the dough without worrying about raw egg yuck. Yousuf is a cheagan (cheater + vegan = cheagan because he's mostly vegan but loves ice cream. You can't blame him either. That stuff is like crack!) and is secretly in love with Isa Chandra Moskowitz, so he was happy to lead the charge.

They turned out beautifully, as they always do. And just like always, the girls were practically doing handstands begging for cookiescookiescookies whencanwehavesomeCOOKIES?!?!

Now because I am a Very Mean Mommy, I never let an opportunity like this pass by without exploiting my Mean Mommy Advantage. At dinner, I told both of them that they had to eat all of their veggies before they could have a cookie. Inara narrowed her eyes at me as if to say fine, lady. But I'm not happy about it. But you know what? She wanted those cookies so badly that she bent her head over her cauliflower and ate the whole bowl in one go. Awesome. Score One for Mean Mommy.

Nissa, on the other hand, is an entirely different creature than her sister. She's will be two in just over a month (waaaah!), but she is already the smartest person in the house. She understood what I said very clearly, because she repeated it back to me: "Caufi-lowa fest. Den Cooka. Yes!", nodding her head in agreement with me the whole time.

Then she grabbed her bowl of cauliflower and dumped it on the ground.

And then she announced, "CAUFI-LOWA ALL GONE!"

"THAT DOESN'T COUNT, ISSIE!" Inara sputtered, pointing at Nissa, and waving fistfuls of cauliflower in the air.

Great. I thought. Now I have to be Really Mean Mommy. I hate being Really Mean Mommy.

"You're right, Inara. That doesn't count. Nissa you haven't eaten your cauliflower, so you won't be getting a cookie until your veggies are all done. In your tummy all done. Not on the ground all done."

You would have thought that I had mortally wounded the child with the way she started screaming at me. She stomped around, banging her little fists against the walls, throwing her tiny body down on the ground and howling in agony. Over a blasted cookie. I couldn't even console her - she wanted absolutely nothing to do with me, the evil person who had taken away every sugar-laden drop of joy from her world.

Meanwhile, Inara quietly finished all of her veggies and dinner, and sat patiently. Waiting.

Up until that point, I had never actually followed through on my Mean Mommy threats. But damn, my kids are smart. Or stubborn. I can't figure out which.

So Yousuf calmly walked past Nissa, who was flailing like a fish out of water on the dining room floor, into the kitchen to get her a cookie. And we all sat there at the table, watching each other and not saying a word, as Nissa went into a nuclear meltdown.

The very second that Inara was finished with her cookie - and I don't know how she did this, because her eyes were scrunched shut - Nissa's agonizing howls stopped abruptly. She calmly picked herself up off the floor and simply walked away, without another peep. Because she is insane. We all looked at each other, shell shocked, and Inara said, "Wow, Issie. You are SO. ODD."

Word up, kiddo.

Fast forward to the next night, when Yousuf and I decided that the same rules would have to apply as far as eating veggies before any desserts were received (you'd think we would have learned by then, but OH NO! We're gluttons for punishment!).

BUT! This wasn't Nissa that flipped out. Because that would be TOO EASY. And we can't be having that now, can we?

As soon as we put out dinner, Nissa dove into it. Literally. When she eats, she consumes it all with her entire body. Forget cutlery, this kid was going for gold without wasting even a second on helpful kitchen implements. She was scooping up stew with her bare hands, stuffing broccoli into her cheeks and swigging back huge gulps of water - all at the same time. It was incredible and horrifying, and maybe just the tiniest bit adorable. In other words, typical Nissa.

At the same time, Inara sat with her arms folded tightly across her chest, and a frown etched onto her face. Her eyebrows were pulled down so far that I think they almost touched her lips. "I am NOT eating this stuff. Ever." she announced.

I sighed, because OF COURSE it would have been too much to ask the universe to have one bloody night without any food drama.

Nissa, finished with ingesting (if you can call it that) her meal, was ready to get up. I gave Inara a pointed Mean Mommy glare and got up to help Yousuf wipe Nissa up. Her entire upper body was covered in gunk, and it was a two-man operation trying to get her clean. She was full, therefore she was happy. She burbled something about I eat food yum in my tummy GOOD! while we washed her up (while Inara glared at us from the dining room), and when we were done Yousuf plopped her down onto the ground and she ran away, singing a song about butterflies and carrots.

"What about dessert?" I asked Yousuf, as we wrung out the facecloths (it took more than one). "Aren't you going to give her a cookie?"

"She never asked for no, I don't think we need to remind her that they're there. She ate her dinner because she wanted to, not because you made her. That's a good thing, isn't it?" he said, nonchalantly.

I countered with, "Yeah, but still...that doesn't seem fair, now does it? She ate her dinner, but she still deserves a cookie. And the only reason she forgot about them is because she's too short to see the cookie jar. We shouldn't discriminate against her short stature. That's just mean."

By this time Yousuf was giving me his patented eye-roll. Which is not dissimilar to his patented one-shoulder shrug, except that it takes less effort on the part of his muscles, so it means that the argument is even more irrelevant to him.This usually accomplishes nothing, other than to infuriate me beyond the point of reason.

"Fine," Yousuf shrugged, walking away. "But if you give her a cookie, Inara is going to go ballistic. I'm just warning you."

Now I was just getting mad.

"DUDE. We did the SAME THING to Nissa yesterday! We rewarded Inara for eating her veggies even when it turning Nissa into a snarling beast. It's not right to keep the cookie away from the kid that did something right! PLUS, did you ever think that you could use the cookie as a catalyst for change?"

(You might call this insanity. I call it justice.)

"Uh...wha?", is all Yousuf could muster in response. "No, it definitely can not be used as a catalyst for change, because it definitely did NOT work that way yesterday. Nissa went NUTS, and she didn't even end up wanting the cookie."

"Yes, but that was Nissa." I explained. "Inara is different. As in, she is rational and logical, and she would do anything for a cookie. We must use this to our advantage! And HELLO, Nissa totally deserves a cookie. Even if she doesn't want one. Makes total sense, yes?"


Ignoring the Yousuf-shaped party pooper standing beside me, I grabbed a cookie and stood next to Inara. Because I am a MEAN MOMMY. Inara eyed me warily, not quite sure what to expect.

"Niss-ssa!" I called out sweetly, not unlike an evil fairy tale villain in disguise.

As expected, Nissa came bounding around the corner, pretty happy with life in general. And I was just about to send her into baby heaven.

"Issie, did you eat your dinner?"
"Did you eat ALL of your dinner?"
"Are you still hungry? Do you want more food?"
(Wait. This wasn't the answer I was expecting to hear. I thought I heard Yousuf guffaw from somewhere behind me. But I persisted...)
"Uh, okay. Forget the food. Do you want a COOKIE?"
"YES YES YES! I wanna cooka! I want! I WANT!"
"Well, here you go then, sweetie!" I said, handing her the biggest cookie in the jar.

Inara scowled at me, narrowed her eyes, and stuck a brocolli into her mouth.

Game, Set, Match to Mean Mommy.

Post Script: Yousuf says that I would be remiss if I didn't add an epilogue to this post, which I am loathe to do because it paints him in a more favorable light. ANYWAY. Later that same night, after the girls were in bed, I went into the bathroom on the main floor and found a half-eaten cookie stuck behind the toilet. Gross. I guess the moral of the story is Don't Force Feed Your Kid Cookies (unless you think it will inspire your other kid to eat their veggies). I still think justice was served, even if came in the shape of a half-eaten cookie. The End.
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