This is what has been happening in my house lately…
The King goes off to work in the mornings and its hugs and kisses all around.
We say “Have a good day Daddy!”
and he says
“You too, I’ll see you at dinner.”
And it’s all smiles and happiness. We usually have a quiet morning playing, baking (and yes sometimes t.v.) or whatever in the house because the Prince goes for a GREAT nap mid-morning.
All is happy and for the most part calm in our little corner of the world until around noontime when this happens:
Me: “Are you hungry Princess?”
Princess: “Yes Mommy”
I then proceed to make a mostly nutritious lunch when all hell breaks loose and I get this:
“I’m not hungry!!!!”
“I don’t want that”
“Daddy, daddy, ….DAAAADDDDDYYYY!!!!!!!!!”
“Where’s DADDY?!?!? I WANT DADDY?!?!?”
And the battle begins and continues (albeit intermittently) for the next 4-5 hours depending on the day and when Daddy is due home. Of course she does manage to eat…she has to refuel for battle right?
I am ashamed to admit that by 5:00 I sometimes find it hard to find any joy in my darling daughter who up until recently has brought me nothing but joy. Ashamed, I look forward to the days she goes to pre-school and I am most certainly now looking forward to returning to work myself.
But most of all I feel like a failure. What happened to all the fun we were having?
Since she has turned three she has becoming increasingly independent and strong-willed. For the most part I can roll with it & keep reminding myself how much this will stand to her as a young woman some day. But this lunch time crap is a whole new level.
However today, in a major “A-ha” moment, I think I might have discovered the root of all this drama (and trauma to be honest!!).
In Ireland the main meal of the day is called dinner (like most places). But the thing is, dinner can be very interchangeable.
For example, sometimes our Sunday dinner is at 2:00….most always it is when we are visiting the King’s family for dinner. Sometimes we have it at 5 or even 6 if we have plans during the day.
Growing up the King most certainly came home to a ‘dinner’ after school everyday with an evening tea or light meal. Come to think of it my Dad always talked about growing up similarly and had a light supper most evenings.
I grew up in a house where dinner was almost always at 5:30. Dad worked and we had our dinner when he got home and we ate it all together.
Now, while I am on maternity leave, if the King finishes at 1:30 I almost always have a ‘dinner’ ready at 2:00 or 3:00 even during the week. That is if Princess B has no after school sports. We usually then have a light tea or supper then at 6ish (I still struggle to call a light evening meal tea. To me tea will always be a hot drink). In our house we try to always have dinner together.
At pre-school Princess M has “small lunch” or what I would call snack at 10:30 and “dinner” at 12:30. The pre-school dinner is indeed a well balanced, 4 food group, hot meal. So yes, it’s dinner. But even on those pre-school days she still comes home and we have dinner together as a family at 5ish. We always call it dinner because the King and I have only eaten a lunch that day.
Today, when she asked me at about 10 this morning what was for dinner I told her chicken because that is what I am making this evening. When I put soup and a sandwich in front of her at noon. She ‘lost the plot’ as the Irish say, and screamed she didn’t want lunch, where was dinner. WHERE WAS DADDY??!?!?!?!?!
And I finally got it…to Princess M, dinner means Daddy is home. Because the only thing that is really consistent about dinner is we are usually eating it together. And sometimes this dinner in the middle of the day.
Even though I was feeding her a lunch she liked. It wasn’t good enough because in her little world it should be dinner, right now so Daddy would be home.
And it is traumatic when your king isn’t there when you are expecting him to be.
So after an afternoon of frustrated tears and me trying to explain the whole three meals of a day thing, things are calmer. For today anyway she is ok knowing that dinner will be served at 5:00 and King Daddy will be here for it. She was even ok to eventually have lunch with just her and Queen Mommy (and the Prince).
So now the King and I will have to regroup and decide on if we are going to change our semantics or what.
Just as I was thinking my kids wouldn’t grow up feeling like third culture kids since they are Irish and will be able to identify with the Irish culture, perhaps having two parents of different cultures really will pose its own challenges for them…..