Friday, July 31, 2009
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
I’m a pretty laid-back mom. My son doesn’t do a whole lot that really gets under my skin. Even when he unrolled and entire tube of toilet paper or pulled every conceivable hygiene product from beneath my bathroom sink or even when he started helping himself to kibble from our dog’s bowl—none of those things made me want to tear out chunks of my own hair.
But sit my kid down at the dinner table with me, and after about ten minutes I’m ready to grab that fish stick (or chicken nugget, or spoonful of mac & cheese or whatever other food he’s toying with instead of eating) and cram it into that angelic, condiment-covered face.
I don’t know when it happened, but sometime between my son’s first and second birthdays, he’s become quite the dinner-time challenge. We’ve tried all sorts of creative tactics to get him to willingly eat. For a while we tried to distract him with a TV show while we’d smuggle food into his gaping mouth and remind him to make like a train and chew-chew-chew. When that stopped working, we’d attempt to make him laugh, practically pulling muscles as we contorted our faces into whatever theatrical expressions would elicit a chuckle from our son, during which the one who wasn’t the designated jester would quickly stuff a morsel in his mouth. But that too lost its charm—the routine became exhausting for us, and as our son grew older, the stunts we needed to pull to achieve the same effect became more complex. At that rate, we’d have to be shooting ourselves out of a cannon by the time our son turned five.
And so for a time, every bite of dinner was the result of a long, calculated bargain.
Me: Have some broccoli, Rollie.
Me: Take a bite first.
Rollie: Juice please.
Me (broccoli-laden fork poised in front of his face): First take a bite.
Rollie: I want juice.
Me: You aren’t getting any juice until you take a bite of this yummy broccoli.
Rollie opens his mouth, then shuts it again as the offending broccoli approaches.
Me: Rollie, please just take this one bite and then you can have your juice.
Rollie: It’s too big.
Me: No it’s not, you can do it, just this one bite.
Rollie: No, it’s too big.
Me (after pruning the broccoli down to the size of a raisin): Here, that’s not too big. Now eat it.
Rollie opens his mouth and leans in for the bite. My shoulders relax as a smug sense of accomplishment washes over me. Then he shuts his mouth again.
Rollie: It’s too hot.
Me: There’s no way it’s too hot, Rol. It’s been sitting out for ten minutes. It’s probably cold now.
Rollie: It’s too cold.
Me: Well, I’m not heating it up—you should have eaten it ten minutes ago. Now take a bite.
Rollie: It’s yucky.
Me (sighing so heavily the force of it blows his napkin to the floor): Rollie, you ate broccoli just the other day and you loved it. You ate every bite of it and asked for more. You smiled and made yummy noises and laughed because you liked it so much. Now you are going to eat this bite of broccoli and you’re going to eat it NOW.
This will go one for several more rounds until finally, I’ll either threaten him with never giving him another drop of juice so long as we both shall live, or my husband will sense that I’m about to have a seriously meltdown, and he’ll intervene, all fresh-faced and different-approachied, making airplane noises with Rolllie’s fork, leaving me to retreat to the fridge for a much-needed adult beverage.
What I don’t understand is why my son’s resistance to ingest anything that isn’t in the shape of a goldfish or a hue not found in nature bothers me so much. He’s big for a two-year-old, energetic and fast. He never complains that he’s hungry, he’s hardly ever sick. He’s obviously getting his nutrients from somewhere. I don’t get it. Does he wait until everyone is sleeping, then raid the fridge, dining on heaps of vegetables and fruit, grains and lean meats, covering the entire food pyramid each night so he can subsist on grapes and air during the day? Or is he more like a camel, storing vitamins and minerals somewhere on his person, feeding off of them slowly through a self-induced famine?
All day long I go through a mental checklist of everything that’s passed my son’s lips, tallying up the calories, fats, proteins, vitamins, trying to determine if he needs to have applesauce for dessert (to round out his servings of fruits), of if he should have frozen yogurt instead (for calcium and protein). I expend more energy obsessing over his menu than I do actually preparing him anything.
Perhaps my son’s lack of appetite is my fault. Maybe I’m too accommodating. If he turns up his little button nose at spaghetti, I dig around for something I think he’ll accept. He seems to know this—he has no fear that he’ll starve if he refuses the first thing set before him. Maybe he should. Maybe the next time he looks from his plate of food to me like he’s about to call child protective services on me for serving such slop, I should simply remove his plate and tell him he’s not getting anything. That’ll teach him. Until he learns how to dial the phone and HRS comes knocking.
Sunday, July 26, 2009
Thursday, July 23, 2009
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
So we all know that children like to stick body parts into holes. Recently I also discovered that children like to stick things into their own bodily orifices.
I bought Rollie a marble maze the other day. It’s a neat toy, really, with different plastic parts you piece together to make a sort of obstacle run for marbles. I sat with him on his floor and poured over the instructions, painstakingly building a glorious tower of loops, curves, funnels and slaloms for his colored marbles to navigate. He sat beside me, seemingly fascinated with the toy, asking me where the different pieces went, handing me each section as I needed it. I followed the directions step by step, completely engrossed with what I was doing, determined to make the maze look exactly like it did on the box.
I was so engrossed, in fact, that I failed to notice Rollie had stopped handing me pieces and had grown unusually quiet. I glanced away from the instructions and saw him holding a bright red marble between his chubby little fingers, holding it dangerously close to his left nostril.
He looked up at me with a perfectly innocent expression, hand still poised by his nose.
“What are you doing?” I almost laughed, but I knew that laughing would be just about the worst thing I could do.
He didn’t have an answer for me. Probably because no answer was needed. I knew darn well what he was doing, and so did he.
“Rollie, we don’t stick marbles in our noses. Or anything else, for that matter.”
He still didn’t reply, but he reluctantly took his hand away from his nose and rolled the marble between his fingers as if contemplating where else he might be able to stick it.
“You should never, ever stick anything up your nose,” I said. “It could get stuck and I might not be able to get it out.” There. That seemed effective enough. Honest, to the point, with just enough uncertainty to discourage him from trying it again.
Only a few days later he was sitting at the table with some play-dough while I fixed dinner, I heard the telltale sound of him pulling on one of his diaper’s tabs (for some reason, after Rollie eats lunch he decides he’s more comfortable without any pants on).
“Rollie, keep your diaper on please,” I said, although I foolishly didn’t bother investigating.
A few minutes later, I wandered over to the table to check on him. He still had all his little play-dough tools out, but the play-dough itself looked suspiciously scarce.
“What happened to all your play-dough?” I asked. “You didn’t drop it, did you?”
He shook his head.
“Well where is it, then?”
He looked up at me and said, “It’s poopy.”
“It’s poopy?” I asked. Then I noticed his diaper was still open on once side.
Ah yes, the panic of a mom who already knows the answer to a very dreaded question: “What do you mean, it’s poopy?”
He leaned to one side so I could see for myself. Balled up inside his diaper like alien excrement were several large chunks of blue play-dough.
“Rollie,” I started. But alas, what could I say? We don’t stick play-dough up our butts somehow didn’t seem like the right speech, even though that’s pretty much how I felt.
After removing a rainbow of play-dough balls from my son’s diaper, I realized that it could have been worse. I’ve successfully thwarted my sons attempts to introduce foreign objects into two orifices with minimal damage (although I did have to dispose of most of his blue play-dough, and the next time he pooped it was a suspicious shade of neon green). At least he hasn’t swallowed anything or jabbed a hole in his eardrum. I think the best thing for now is to make sure his toys are too big to fit in any hole they aren’t supposed to. Until he’s moved onto another phase, like flushing things down the toilet. Stay tuned for that chapter….
Saturday, July 18, 2009
Thursday, July 16, 2009
Tuesday, July 14, 2009
God bless the inventor of the microwave. And the inventor’s family, children, grandchildren, friends, pets, employers, neighbors, milkmen, etc. Seriously. If I could write a book solely about the invention of the microwave, if I could dedicate the amount of time equivalent to the hours and hours using this fabulous device has saved me into some sort of tribute, an homage to the microwave and its inventor, I would. Unfortunately, writing a book about a microwave probably wouldn’t be much of a read. It would basically consist of pages and pages of me engaged in various forms of microwave worship. My son must think that is where food comes from. This magical cube that hovers above our stovetop, lighting up and humming and beeping and giving forth steaming plates of rice, pasta, oatmeal, anything we could want to eat (which, if you’re my son, is nothing).
What the hell did people do before the microwave? Cook? For their toddlers? Were kids less picky then, or were parents stricter when it came to meals? I vaguely remember being fed what everyone else was eating when I was young, but also remember depositing much of that food onto a little ledge beneath the table when no one was looking—green beans, peas, noodles, pieces of pork chop. The food sat there until the places were cleared and my family scattered like roaches, then my dog would come along and scarf up whatever I’d left in the secret hiding spot. We had a system, the dog and I. She never gave me away, and I always made sure to keep her supplied with morsels that, to me, were only slightly more appetizing than Alpo.
I would write more, but my microwave is beeping, indicating to me that lunch is ready. Bon Appetit.