Getting Kids to Eat, Lesson Two: Using Water
Johnny has been eating eggs a lot lately but I’ve been worried he hasn’t been getting enough carbs. Apparently Cheerios are now too boring to eat. And I know well that trying to force a kid to eat something is the surest way to make him loathe that thing forever.
This morning I tried a trick – whisking eggs, milk, and a little flavoring with some soft shredded bread. As I cooked it and noticed how mushy it was turning out I began to dread trying to get Johnny to eat it.
When the mixture was thoroughly cooked I sat down with it in front of Johnny’s high chair and made a great performance of eating a few bites. Then I offered it to him.
He took the bate, didn’t spit it out, and smiled. So far so good. He took another bite and another.
And then suddenly he started pushing it away.
“Would you like more eggs?” I asked politely as this has been known to do the trick…Johnny gets upset if I start shoving food in his mouth like a machine.
He condescended to take one more bite but that was it.
Now normally at this point I would have thrown my hands up in bewildered misery, thrown the eggs-and-bread in the trash and started rummaging around for anything else I could get Johnny to eat. Today was different. We had some unexpected expenses this last week and payday is not till Sunday. What’s more I have no vehicle (this involves the aformentioned expenses) and no way to go to the store. What it comes down to is that none of the usual grapes, banannas and very little of the Smokies that are Johnny’s old standbys were available. I was saving the Smokies for lunch and for tomorrow. And I was tired. Too tired to fight with my kid and too strapped to waste a whole egg and a slice of bread.
So I just sat there. We stuck out our tongues at one another; we took turns making funny noises with our lips. A couple of times Johnny reached his hand out in that “give me some more” gesture but I just shrugged and said, “I don’t know what to do for you, Baby.”
And what a miracle, he eventually ate three more bites of egg mixture. Then he stopped eating again but I thought, hey I’m on to something. Low pressure, friendly interaction, and don’t let him know there’s any other food in the house.
I don’t know when it ocurred to me to give him some water. Maybe I was feeling thirsty myself. But I remembered he’d had nothing to drink yet this morning so I filled a small glass with water and began to help him drink it.
And miracle of miracles, after his third or fourth sip, I caught him looking at the bowl of eggs-and-bread on the table.
“Would you like more eggs?” I asked him, and tried giving him a bite. He took it. Then he looked at the water so I gave him more. Then eggs. Water. Eggs. Water. Eggs. Water. Till he’d finished the entire bowl of eggs and the entire cup of water. Now he’s happily runing around the house filling his diaper.
My nose tells me I should go.
But first I must reflect that sometimes when we have trouble getting our kids to eat, it’s because we are trying to forcre them into our own bad eating habits. My husband is always telling me I need to drink water at every meal but I usually forget. Now I was expecting my baby to do the same thing. Fortunately he has healthier desires than I do.
As I explore Orthodox Christian thinking, my ideas about children are changing. If God does not take personal offence at my every infraction or failure, as I once believed he did, then why should I take offence at my child’s infractions and failures? If he’s wrong it’s only to his own hurt and that should grieve me more than anger me. I’m trying to reserve righteous anger for those times when he is truly being stubborn even though he knows better. At this age (16 months) that doesn’t really happen when you watch closely. Ignorance, misunderstanding, blind desire, and fear drive most wrongdoing. That wrongdoing can and will become sinful and death-bringing if they become habits and last till he’s older. Well, that’s bound to happen…it’s the human condition. But the gentlest way to discourage as much of it as possible is the best kind of discipline. Sometimes when Johnny is truly frustrating me I put him in his crib with some toys until we are ready to start interacting again.
Then again, as in today’s example, sometimes it’s me who’s wrong, not him. And that should make me even slower to condemn my child’s frustrating behavior. I’m really glad I didn’t punish Johnny for not eating his eggs-and-bread this morning.
When your child gets older, meaning verbal, you can start asking them what they would like to eat. This guarantees that they will eat what you make.
I just want to say, I am a new reader to your blog and I really enjoy it! I have a 15-month old, William, and live in Alaska. Blessings!
I enjoy your comments on Fr Stephen’s blog, Glory to
God for all things. And a few of the comments have led me to believe that perhaps I “Met” you online before?
Were you part of orthodoxchat at one time? Or a blog ring on Xanga? Or something? Some things you say sound familiar, though there is a commonality in Orthodoxy that does give one a sense of deja vu sometimes.
Anyway, I love your writing and your growing wonder with your child. They are a great lesson and humbler. I have two of them myself!
AM: lol, that’s true. I do ask him, “Would you like this?” before making it. And he has a sort of “AH!” sound that has the inflection of a yes. (He hasn’t figured out “no” yet because I try not to say it to him…I use “must not” and “that’s NOT good.” So if he doesn’t want something he’s reduced to whining…which I’m not so thrilled about either.) But you’re right, asking helps. Do you have kids? Hey I wanted to ask you…have you ever taken one of those quizzes to see if you are more right-brain or left brain dominated? You remind me of some of my loved ones who are rather right-brained. I myself am a lefty up top…but I think it’s really interesting how people can vary that way.
Elizabeth: Alaska! Wow. I have thought about that a couple of times but I struggle so badly every winter (living in the Midwestern US) that I can’t imagine moving to a place where it’s colder longer. Then again…I suppose there’s more light in general? Well, thanks for visiting and your kind words, I shall check out your blog. Fair fortune with your little guy.
Martha: As far as I remember I haven’t been part of any chat or blog rings since becoming interested in Orthodoxy. I had a Blogger blog under my full name (see URL…I don’t mind people knowing who I am, I just don’t want my comments searchable in case I say something stupid!) I was part of a philosophy chat once but that was long ago and I was an Edwardsian Calvinist then. My online name before AR (when not using my full name) was HeighHo. You are right, there is that commonality in the Orthodox Church. Welcome and thanks for your kindness.
AR, May the Lord God bless you. I have a seven year old daughter and I am an artist when I am not being a mother. I am so thankful I am going back to work tomorrow after not being able to work since Christmas break. I mostly work at home but it is very hard to concentrate at home when my daughter is at school because of domestic work! Like right now I need to go for a walk, go to a meeting, grocery shop, vacuum our rooms, clean the floors… Its too much. Plus we are just getting over the flu. Sorry, needed to vent to another Orthodox mom.
I know what you mean. I have a three-hour window when Johnny naps to get done anything I can’t do while keeping track of him… and a sense of reponsibility usually makes me lean towards chipping away at housework. I would like to have a career in freelance writing but I haven’t gotten to the place where I can work steadily away at it every day. So I have about a dozen unfinished projects! Sometimes my house gets more attention and sometimes it’s my writing…but whatever happens the little guy has to come first.
You know, being a Mom and a housekeeper can be really hard, especially when you are inwardly impelled to do other, more creative things on top of it all. I’ll remember you in my prayers tonight, AM. God bless you, as well.