This morning I woke up with a bit of neck pain. It got worse as the day progressed, so at lunch time I bought a one-time-use heating pad. The adhesive failed immediately, so I ended up holding it to my neck with one hand and typing with my other.

My neck hurts very little as long as I keep my head cocked to the right, but if I hold it straight up, OUCH! So when I needed both hands to type, I cocked my head.

I also popped a pair of Advil, and when I got home, I added a couple of Tylenol to that. It still hurts. And my head is cocked to the right as I type this with both hands.

Driving home (with head tiltled), I experienced that rarest event in New Hampshire – a bona fide traffic jam. Someone ha driven off into the median, so they close both lanes and diverted us off to the shoulder. Passage required an extra 30 minutes.

Shortly after I got home, Va headed off to a board meeting. Before she left (and indeed, before I got home), she had prepared some chicken for dinner. As is not unusual, Beth turned up her nose at it.

As I am not a proponent of meat-eating, I agreed that she could have some mac-n-cheese instead of the chicken, and I told her that she would have to eat all of it. She agreed. But a quarter of the way into that, she quit eating and asked for some chocolate milk. I asked her if she had finished her mac, and she insisted that she had. I asked to see her bowl, because I know about her tricks. She pointed one out in the middle of the stack in the sink. I asked her why she buried her bowl in the middle of the stack of dishes, and then waltzed into the dining room to see if there was anything still on the table. “Oh yes! I forgot!” she proclaimed. “I guess I DIDN’T eat it all!”

Ha ha. So I made her go back and finish it up. She asked if she could eat her chicken instead, and I allowed as how she could. I had already given her permission to waste a meal, and at that point it didn’t matter to me which one she wasted (the chicken or the mac).

She came back claiming to have finished it, and showed me her empty plate. So I gave her the chocolate milk. As she was drinking it, she asked a most suspicious-sounding question: “How often do we empty the upstairs trash?” I answered, “As often as Mom reminds us to.” She persisted, “But how often is that?” I said, “sometimes it’s a long time.” (We don’t use the trash cans upstairs very much.) I pressed, “Why are you so interested in the upstairs trash?” Then she started sounding nervous and tripped herself up. “I really did eat all that chicken!”

OK. I get it now. “Did you throw your chicken in the trash?” She insisted she did not, but I, knowing full well that she did, started towards the stairs when the confession came pouring out. I ordered her to go get the trash can and bring it to me. There was the chicken, and a couple of tissues. I removed the tissues and then did the unthinkable. I got a clean plate and dumped the chicken out on it. Then I told her to eat it. She refused. So I forced a piece into her mouth. She continued to resist. I forced another in and ordered her to chew. Then I told her that I could either force feed her the rest, or she could eat it herself, but either way, SHE WAS GOING TO EAT IT. Also, if she didn’t finish eating it before bedtime, she would get no chocolate milk for the rest of the week.

So she sat down (bawling) and started to eat it. She had it all in her mouth by bedtime, and I did allow her extra time to swallow it (but I also set a deadline). That was the end of the theatrics.

And of course I feel horrible about feeding my kid from a garbage can, but it really seemed to be a fitting punishment. Also, the food did not LOOK soiled (though bacteria are invisible) and the garbage can was clean. I don’t think she’ll soon forget this.