"Here's your pet food" I told Kiddo, placing a bowl of pistachios on the floor. He kneels down, butt in the air, begins to lick the pistachios into his mouth. Like a dog or a cat and not the little boy I knew a couple days ago.
Let me make it clear~ my child was all Human until he became possessed by the Animal Spirits. A week or so ago, he decided he wanted to give our cheeks a lick instead of a kiss, "Like a dog" he said. Oh, and he's been occasionally grossing me out by licking his whole hand at bedtime. Ugh and shudder. But now the Animal Spirit was causing real mayhem: on Saturday morning, Kiddo tried out the licking technique on his yogurt. Then out at dinner, he tried grabbing globs of soft cheddar from his grilled cheese sandwich, placing them on the edge of his plate and attempting to lick them off. "Oh, no you don't!" said the Mama and the Daddy. This continued at several junctures on Sunday--once more at a cafe, trying to eat items off the cheese plate at face-level, arms holding his little head just enough off the table. Finally at dinner, when he began lapping at the cottage cheese in his dish, I'd kinda had enough. And when I have had enough, I'm not at my Shining Moment Best.
"I've asked you to eat like a boy, not an animal. Animals do not eat at the table. You need to go to your room now please." I took his food and placed it on the counter, wiped his hands and sort of gave him the bum's rush out of the kitchen. I was all done with this. Of course, in my parental exhaustion, I completely bypassed all the memories of every other youngster I'd ever cared for who went through the "I need to eat like a housepet" phase. And frankly, it was hot, he'd been testing limits a lot that day, and I was at that point where I didn't care if I was being a grumpy mama--even Ms. Positive Empathetic Discipline has her days. And her limits.
I like the idea of letting kids have their dramatic play, but as I told Joe, if we let this continue at mealtimes, it would be a disservice to him in the long run. He needed to know that we used utensils (one area he's been testing) and ate like civilized beings, not drunken Vikings at a feast. And certainly not like anything with four legs.
Kiddo comes out. "Mama, I'm ready to eat like a little boy now." And cranky, crappy Mama-Moment, I replied, "Well, I'm not ready to have you at the table yet. I need a few more minutes. Go back to your room please." Because I still needed a break from the mayhem. Half a minute later, however, the tears and sobs soared on the heat, down the hall and to the kitchen.
"Don't you dare go in there" I said to Joe, rather ferociously. I think he was ready to sweep in and make it all better, but Kiddo and I had started it, and we'd finish it. I took a deep breath,formed a plan and went into his room.
"Want Mama to make me happy!" he ached at me.
"Well, I want to make you happy too. You may come out and finish your cottage cheese and peas at the table, like a little boy. Then, when that's finished, I will be happy to make a bowl of pet food for you on the floor." I'd offered other children this alternative before, and this seemed to satisfy his needs, which were being met after all, and my sense of decorum.
All's well that ends well, Kiddo now gets a little dish of pistachios a couple times a day on the floor. I know that he's just trying to relate to our Gus Kitty, and that's fine. I wouldn't mind if he wanted me to pet him. Or even give him a lick on the cheek, if he asked.
But he'll have to wait on wearing a dog collar and leash until he moves out. I'm pretty sure about that.