December 7, 2009

Bad Cop

PK's eating has gone from great to terrible. Somewhere along the line, she has decided that she pretty much doesn't like most things except for cheese, apple sauce, eggs, blueberries, and yogurt. This makes meal planning very difficult. And let's face it. A growing kid cannot live off of cheese, apple sauce, eggs, blueberries, and yogurt. Every once in a while, she surprises us and eats stuff like couscous and lentils. Oh, and she LOVES black beans.

Desperate times call for desperate measures, so I tried these Gerber entrées for toddlers. She liked a couple of them, but then after a few meals of these entrées, she would have nothing to do with them. I'm honestly a bit relieved, because they weren't frozen entrées, so I can only imagine what the hell they were preserved with.

On to Plan B. Maybe PK just wasn't hungry enough. So I cut out her post-daycare snack so that she'd have more of an appetite at dinner. We also started letting her roam free around the kitchen while we chased after her with spoonfuls of food. That worked for a while, but then she just kept running away from us.

Then we discovered that daycare had taught her how to hold her own spoon, so we let her feed herself. It's a very messy business, but that seemed to work for a while. Until she decided that she also wanted to scoop the food from her plate or bowl herself. She's too uncoordinated at this point to scoop the food herself, so we plunked the food onto the spoon and made her think that she'd done it herself. That seemed to work for a while. And then it stopped.

The moral of the story: whatever works today may not work tomorrow.

On Friday, we decided to go grocery shopping after work. We got home pretty late, and by then, PK was over-tired and over-hungry. She flat-out refused to eat what we put in front of her: pasta stars in tomato sauce. And when I say refused, I mean full-out meltdown tantrum. What didn't help was the fact that after having just spent a small fortune on groceries, we came home to a busted fridge. The inside of the fridge was 10C and the freezer was down at 0C. (Our fridge is a little over a year old, and this is the 2nd time that it has busted, so you can imagine how happy we were.) So the stress of busted fridge and a baby having a meltdown were not good. She cried and cried and cried, but pretended not to care. I finally did cave and gave her blueberries. She ate those, and that's pretty much it. Fortunately, we'd given her some cheese and a home-made banana/flaxseed muffin before we left for grocery shopping.

On Saturday, PK ate fine, but then come Sunday morning, we were back to meltdown mode. I had had it. We had been too lenient with her. She was beginning to think that she could get away with anything, and that was not good. Last week, we'd put an end to her roaming the kitchen free during mealtimes and confined her to her high chair for meals. This week, it was time for me to be stern with her. She was throwing her food on the floor, and that was just unacceptable. I spoke to her sternly. She looked at me, and bawled her eyes out. She was TERRIFIED. She looked to the hubby for comfort. He said nothing, but he also didn't give in to her cries.

This is one of the hardest things I've ever done. Seeing the look of terror on my daughter's face after speaking to her like that was just crushing. But I stayed the course. We cleared out her breakfast, and proceeded to put her down for a nap. She got over being upset with me by the time we got up to her room and asked me to read her a book. I almost cried. How could she forgive me so readily after I spoke to her like that? But she did. I read her the book, and put her down for a nap.

When I got back downstairs, I cried my eyes out. I still have the image of PK's expression of terror. It's positively haunting. Some days, parenting seems so easy, you just put it on auto-pilot. Other days, it feels like you're constantly adapting. And when you think you've got it down, you need to adapt again. And to think that it'll be like this for at least the next 20 years...

1 comment:

Fawn said...

You got that right! I know it's hard (and I'd probably go with more lenient, myself) but I know from experience that a child can certainly learn that there are rules about food that are non-negotiable. We rarely have issues with Jade's meals these days. It was really tough at the beginning, though, and every source told us NOT to make it into a battle of wills because ultimately you can't force anyone to eat something they don't want to have. It was so hard to balance laying down the line and yet not having a power struggle, and there were LOTS of tears on both sides, for sure.

I doubt any of that is helpful, but I just wanted to say that you're not alone!!

Oh, also, I usually let Halia feed herself with a spoon for things like oatmeal, including the scooping part. She's surprisinly good at it after just a few weeks of doing it. Yes, it's messy, and sometimes she tosses the spoon and uses her hands instead, but she eats and I can concentrate on my own supper or Jade's instead!