Posted March 26, 2012on:
Todays guest post is from Kirsten and here is her website – please visit it;
I will never forget the day I first introduced my younger son James to solids. I had been breastfeeding him exclusively for four months, and I was excited about him reaching this little milestone. I had no reason to think it wouldn’t go well: two years previously, James’ big brother George had taken to solids like a bull takes to a china shop. Enthusiastically but with a lot of mess.
I sat James in his high chair and his eyes widened with surprise, which I suppose is understandable when you’re four months old and thought you were going to be suckling at Mommy’s breast like always. I then set up the video camera to record this momentous occasion, and finally, I was ready to give James his first solid meal.
As the spoon of rice cereal approached his little face, he opened his mouth obligingly, and then closed it at just the right time. I regarded him fondly as he worked his jaw muscles, thinking, “This kid’s a natural.”
A few seconds later, my precious little angel pursed his tiny lips, and without any warning whatsoever, he went “Phtooo!” and a splattering of rice cereal hit me square in the face.
Fast forward six years, and some things have not changed. The boys are older, of course. Instead of parenting a baby and a toddler, I am now dealing with two school-age children who cannot be strapped into high chairs, no matter how badly I may want to keep them in the same place. James, thank goodness, no longer spits his food out at me. But the passage of time has not changed the fact that there is always a food war being waged at my house, albeit a war that includes the occasional unspoken peace treaty.
The war now includes not one, but two children.
James is still as picky as he ever was, but sometimes it is not clear whether he is not eating because he doesn’t like the food, or because he just wants to be stubborn. We have the most ridiculous conversations sometimes. Like this one:
Me: James, eat your dinner.
James: I don’t like spaghetti.
Me: James, you asked for spaghetti.
James: I still liked it then.
Me: How can you like something, and then not like it twenty minutes later?
James (ominously): A lot can happen in twenty minutes.
While all of this is going on, George is sitting nearby, mutely staring at his food as if it has said something very offensive. George, I know, likes spaghetti. It’s on his list of Known Foods. If you try to give him something that’s not on his list of Known Foods, you’re not only asking for trouble, you’re knocking down its door and forcibly dragging it out with you.
Even the Known Foods can present a problem. George, being a child with autism, is very particular about the way things are done. He dislikes change, and if things aren’t done just so, he gets upset.
So as he sits there staring at his spaghetti, I know that it could be anything. It was cooked for ten seconds too long. There’s not enough sauce. The sauce has a single smidgeon of onion in it that no-one else would even notice. The spaghetti strands weren’t cut into the right-size pieces.
Who knew that cooking spaghetti could be so complicated? Getting spaghetti right according to George’s standards is about as simple as solving Rubik’s Cube (and anyone who knows how to solve Rubik’s Cube, shut up!)
I have tried a variety of strategies to get my kids to eat.
I have encouraged. You can do it. I know you can do it!
I have threatened. If you don’t eat your dinner you’re not getting any ice cream and you’ll have to watch while your Dad eats his!
I have used reason. If you eat your veggies, you will grow up to be big and strong. If you don’t, you won’t get any muscles and you’ll be all floppy like a rag doll.
I have completely abandoned all dignity and thrown myself on my knees, begging. PLEASE eat your dinner. PLEEEAAAASE!!! Otherwise you’ll drive Mommy crazy and that’s a really short trip!
My current strategy is to try getting them involved in the preparation of their food. The purpose of this is to get (the little blighters to work for the privilege of not eating educate) my children on the importance of healthy food choices and encourage them through empowerment. And if they still don’t eat their food, I remain calm. I tell them that it is their choice whether or not to eat their food, but if they choose not to eat, they shouldn’t expect anything else until the next mealtime. If they do eat, they will get some kind of treat. This hopefully teaches them that (if they don’t eat, they starve) if they eat a balanced meal, there will be positive consequences.
I am starting to meet with some success, but the progress is slow and painful, and sometimes grinds to a halt completely.
The war is still being waged, but I am at least beginning to win the odd battle. I am hopeful that maybe – just maybe – I will not still be trying to bribe my kids to eat when they’re big hairy teenagers.