Sunday, January 6, 2013

Eat it or Starve: Two Meltdowns for the Price of One

Despite my best efforts, HRH has steadfastly refused to expand her palate much further than allowing her dad to put butter on her toast.  Peanut butter is, apparently, the Devil.  Pomegranates, while interesting and acceptable in kefir form, are "sour" and "yucky."  Cheese is no longer en vogue, although yogurt has once again become the new black.  It's a cyclical fashion world we live in.
Her new favorite thing to do when resisting "go" food is to say "I want something from the pantry."
This is preschooler code for "I want a piece of chocolate that I know is in the pantry."
I pretend not to know the code.
"Would you like Craisins?"
"Would you like crackers?"
"Would you like spaghetti?"
"No." (I know this is going to be the answer - spaghetti went out of fashion with cheese)
"Would you like some peanuts?" (she'll still eat peanuts if they are not yet in butter form)
"Well, what from the pantry would you like?"
"I don't know."
She knows.
A few nights ago I gave HRH some vegetable soup (which I was also having), and you'd have thought I spiked it with equal parts Bubonic plague, arsenic, and dog poop, based on her outrage at having such swill placed in front of her.
She went to bed without formally eating dinner, one of what I foresee as only one of many peaceful protests in which she will likely participate over the course of her life; she is especially gifted, even at a young age, at the "go limp when they pick you up to arrest you put you in time out" move.
Move over, Hanoi Jane.

HRH has made some resolutions herself this year, although she isn't totally cognizant of The Big Plan around which these resolutions revolve.
OK, actually, she doesn't know she's made these resolutions.
OK, I made these resolutions for her.
About her.
Whatever.  This is what she is going to do this year:
  • Unless we have something for dinner that is above 900 on the Scoville scale, all three of us are having some of our main course plated in front of us.  For a while, I tried hard to get her to eat ANYTHING without thinking the consequences of what modeling "you get to eat this, and we get to eat something completely different" would do when we finally present her with "completely different."
  • She doesn't have to eat it, but that's all she's getting (this is a continuation of Eat it or Starve; it's Eat it or Starve 2.0).
  • Momma is taking note of when snack times and meal times are at school, and they will be copied at home so that the routine is more consistent each day rather than on school and then non-school days.
  • And finally, she's learning how to dress and undress herself fully.
That last one isn't really related, but it is, if only in my head (don't try to make sense of it up in there, gang; not even leaving a trail of breadcrumbs is going to keep this ship from going off the wheels faster than you can say "mixed metaphors").
We've had more than our fair share of food tantrums of late, including the "I'm hungry for something from the pantry" banshee jam session in our kitchen this afternoon.
But we have also had plenty of "I can't do it" meltdowns that have been wholly unexpected, mostly because the Baby Center emails I continue to get have basically guaranteed that all children HRH's age ALWAYS want to "do it myself."
Apparently, in HRH's case, this desire does not extend to shirts or anything with buttons.
Bath time came and went tonight with nary a splash to be had because of this shirt taking off business.  She screamed.
I smiled and repeated myself.
She screamed some more.
I smiled again and repeated myself some more.
Teachers are well-versed in the "broken record" form of classroom management.
Works for your own kids, too, although they tend to be a little a lot exponentially more resistant to any sort of inclination toward following direction when all riled up.
Thirty minutes after we began the clothes taking off process, it was finally complete.
Unfortunately, the time for the bath had expired, which triggered another round of tears, but this time I got a full moon from the now-naked writhing-on-the-floor head-spinning-and-pea-soup-spewing Devil child.

My own patience has been tested with HRH's reserved palate as well as her recent behavior, which is anything but gracious and patient.  When she wants something, whether it be chocolate or to play a game on my iPad, she wants it now, and regardless of the time or the reason (like I need a reason to keep my iPad to myself), if the answer is "no," there is ugliness.  I want my child to be kind, to be patient, to be a listener, to know that the world is greater than herself.  This year might be filled with some tough lessons (the chocolate in the pantry is probably going to disappear this week, and I mean in the trash, not down my maw), but it's my hope that she can be that gracious, patient soul who not only eats what she is offered but is willing to wait her turn on the iPad.
And, for heaven's sake, take of her own shirt.

Parents, what challenges do you face in encouraging your child(ren) to try new foods?
What behaviors are you trying to promote, and which ones are you trying to discourage?
Non-parents,  how do you plan to promote good eating and good behavior?


  1. I have very little to add to the conversation, as I'm not yet a parent. However, I loved this post. It makes me want to meet HRH in person and to give you a great big hug for being a wonderful mom. I put up a lot of fights as a kid over food, but I didn't get dinner without eating my veggies. The eat it or starve mentality worked pretty well in my family. Stay strong, sister!

  2. You know, I hope for your sake she is just being a preschooler and not like me as a kid!! Eat or starve? OK, I'll go hungry. Clean your room or you are grounded (no TV, no radio, no outside play) eh, maybe in 10 days or so I'd get around to it. Laying on my bed all afternoon after school just wasn't punishment. Clean your room or I throw everything on the floor away (yes, this happened)- didn't even phase me. I was just glad she cleaned my room for me.

    So yeah, good luck!! :D

    1. She's a stubborn one, she is, but last night she wanted to make a fruit salad. So we had fruit salad for dinner. She loved making it and eating it, so I'm seeing this as a step in the right direction! :)