God's Child, Our Joy

An adoptive family's journey in faith and life

It’s My Dinner and I’ll Cry If I Want To

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It’s all moving too fast. She’s moving too fast. Used to be that if the she crawled away you had time to get up before she got into anything. Now you have to anticipate before she does. I mean, what’s the problem, what kind of trouble can a baby get into…

Our baby girl (and I imagine almost every other baby) comes equipped with a special feature that’s not listed on the box. Trouble Radar. Trouble Radar indicates the locations close by that are trouble points. A power cord that can tip over a lamp. A piece of lint/carpet/other on the ground for tasting. A stack of baby food jars that can be knocked over. They are all irresistible, but all these things are just not as exciting as one thing. Quinton’s food dish.

We have a gate that separates the kitchen/dining room from the family room. Quinton’s food resides in the kitchen, so we installed a gate that has a doggy door. Win win, right? Well, Quinton’s not the only one small enough to fit through the dog door. Once through the door, she stops to evaluate her next move. Right next to her is the dog dish. This often times is the next move.

A gentle “No Eva” escalates to a more stern “No!” to a physical removal from the area. The “Nos” are a game for her. She’s thinking “If I reach out for the food, I can make you say ‘No’. “Sometimes I’ll fake reach, sometimes I’ll actually reach. This is super fun!”

Depending on her want level, removal can lead to a reevaluation and new target, or a new event that has just sprung up in the last week or so. The tantrum.

She’s reached that magical stage in development where three things are apparent:

1. She knows what she wants

2. She doesn’t know boundaries

3. She doesn’t know how to express disappointment other than screaming

Well, three needs to be amended. Screaming AND the flop to the ground. The “If I can’t get what I want I might as well do nothing at all!” move. A total diva move. Didn’t see it coming at all. Oh wait.

While sometimes cute, but also annoying, the tantrums aren’t our major issue now. Tantrums are a known problem. We know what she wants, and we know why she’s upset (although how to guide her out of this stage is still unknown). No, the current issue with her is eating. Lately we’ve been having a crying girl while she eats. Here’s the list of reasons why she’s upset:

We are too slow and she is hungry
We are too fast and she is chewing
She doesn’t like the way I wipe food from her face
She wants to control the spoon
We offer dinner meals or vegetables and she wants fruit
She can’t see what the other parent is doing
She doesn’t want to hold the bottle herself
She’s tired
Her teeth/gums hurt
She’s strapped to the seat and unable to play
She sees the bottle before the baby food jar is done
And the worst, unknown.

Dinners used to be the nicest times. She’d eat anything, and we were providing for her. Now we are gradually moving toward this insane notion that dinner, while not a punishment,is sort of a time out from fun. Dinner is no longer a moment of excitement and discovery, but routine and monotony. We get to push off the D-Day a while as we introduce solid foods, but past that we enter into the “Two more bites and you can go play” stage.

I guess that’s why I’m lamenting these early stages of the food rebellion. I afraid of moving past these stages where parenting means providing sustenance, home, and love to the stage where parenting adds creating boundaries, discipline, and battling to make sure that you don’t miss out on what they need.

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