Enter in Mean Awful Mommy who said that she couldn't have a cookie unless she ate a good dinner. The toddler would try and try to eat a good dinner, but Mean Awful Mommy made such disgusting dinners that it was impossible for the toddler to eat enough to appease her mommy and earn that cookie.
Mean Awful Mommy got tired of seeing that cookie sitting on the pantry shelf.
Enter in the Cookie Monster.
Mean Awful Mommy told the toddler that unless she ate a good dinner, that very night, the Cookie Monster was going to visit the house after she was asleep and eat up that cookie. Then it would be very sad because there would be no more cookies.
(Pssst, if you're wondering, the Cookie Monster looks and sounds a lot like Mommy.)
The toddler did not want the Cookie Monster to come and eat her cookie. Doesn't that awful Cookie Monster have any sense of ownership? It was her cookie that she got at a birthday party and no Cookie Monster was going to steal it while she was asleep.
So the toddler gobbled up her dinner and at last got to eat her cookie.
Mean Awful Mommy congratulated herself on this stroke of parenting genius and poured herself a celebratory glass of wine.
See, that's where the story would end in most households. Not in mine.
The morning after the initial success, I told Ella that the Cookie Monster had, in fact, come by the house the night before. However, I told him that she had eaten a good dinner and got to eat her cookie so there were no cookies here for him. The Cookie Monster was so proud of her that he dropped off some more cookies for her to have. (Yes, the Cookie Monster takeths, and the Cookie Monster giveths, because Mommy wanted some cookies too and there was no way to hide all those cookies in the pantry so there was some improvising.)
This Cookie Monster bit played out well for about a week. Until my wily little toddler caught on.
Last night we had one cookie left in the pantry. It had taken lots and lots of willpower on my part not to eat that cookie. Ella dutifully ate the first part of her dinner. I let her down to play while the rest cooked. She brings me over her play phone and tells me the Cookie Monster is on the phone. Like a good mom, I say hi and have a fake conversation with the Cookie Monster about that last cookie in the pantry. I hang up and go back to making dinner.
Then there's another phone call. This time it's the Orange Marmalade Monster. I talk to him too. We have a nice discussion about how we are almost out of orange marmalade and will have to go buy some at the store.
I hand the phone back to Ella. But wait, there's another call! This time it's the Vegetable Monster. She tells me he wants her vegetables. I'm pretty positive she would be okay with letting him have them. Panicking, I get on the phone with the Vegetable Monster and broker a deal between him and the Cookie Monster. They both agree that if Ella eats her vegetables she can get her cookie.
Crisis averted. Or so I think.
The pretend phone rings for a final time. It's the Ice Cream Monster. Ella tells me that he says if she eats all her dinner then she can have ice cream. Crap. By this point you can bet I'm regretting inventing the Cookie Monster. Hurriedly I get on the phone with the Ice Cream Monster. I explain that we don't have any ice cream in the freezer and that I would love to chat more but I have to get back to cooking dinner.
I can see the little wheels turning in her head. I really want ice cream more than I want a cookie. But if there is no ice cream to be had, then there is nothing for the Ice Cream Monster to steal. If I'm not going to get what I want anyway, why should I eat my dinner?
Anyone want to take bets as to whether she ate her dinner?
Yep, despite reminders about the cookie in the pantry, within five minutes she decided she was done. Forget about the cookie. That's nowhere near as awesome as ice cream.
Toddler 1, Mommy 0. Or maybe I get half a point for the initial success?
At least I got to eat the cookie.