Thursday, November 12, 2009

I'm Not a Short Order Cook

I've been a member of the Baby Center birth boards for almost four years now. I've seen all kinds of crazy posts and witnessed fights that were completely absurd. I also saw some interesting debates on parenting styles and philosophies, and the flaming that normally went with them. I always tried to be respectful to other's views and if I couldn't, I would just stay out of it.

But I did have one hot button issue that could easily get my panties in a wad, and it was a pretty silly one too. These were the posts about kids being fussy eaters back when the May 2006 babies were about 1.5 to 2 years old. We would discuss how stressful fussy eaters are and share strategies on how to encourage our kids to eat more. I could always count on at least one mom jumping on the tread and commenting that you just put the food in front of the kid and if they don't eat it, too bad. They will eat when they are hungry. They always managed to say somewhere in the post that, "I am not a short order cook."

Every time I saw that, my brain would explode and I'd start foaming at the mouth. Whoever made these comments clearly did not have a child like Michael. I always considered that attitude a luxury. I would love to have that attitude, but at that time, I had watched Michael go from 99th percentile for weight at birth down to 15th percentile at one year. Even though his doctor wasn't concerned, I was. Michael did not eat. Sometimes I could get him to eat yogurt or string cheese, but he wouldn't even eat Cheerios. I offered him some foods well over a hundred times and he never ate them. In fact, Michael never actually asked for food (other than cookies and junk food) until he was almost three years old. So, if Michael did ask for a specific food, I've always pretty much jumped on it because, OMG he actually wants food.

I've never pushed Michael to eat. I've always offered, and if he doesn't want it, he doesn't have to eat it. If he would ask for something healthy instead, fine. If he asked for junk, no way.

Recently, with Michael's new debating skills surfacing, this approach has not been working so well. Last night I asked if he wanted noodles. "Yes!" I gave him a choice between dinosaur and Spiderman noodles. He picked Spiderman.

"Are you sure? Once I start making them, you can't change your mind."

He assured me that yes, he wanted Spiderman noodles. Yet, I had a bad feeling about the whole thing.

Five minutes into boiling the Spiderman noodles Michael yells in to me that he wanted dinosaur noodles. I calmly explained that I had started making the Spiderman noodles. He told me to put the Spiderman noodles back. I calmly explained that I would not. He screamed and yelled that he wouldn't eat them. I calmy responded that he didn't have to eat them if he didn't want to. And it just escalated from there.

I ignored him for a minute, but he started making demands for everything but Spiderman noodles. I remained calm and basically just repeated my stance over and over. Finally, I looked at him and said, "You know Michael, I'm not a short order cook." Then I walked out of the room.

He kept on complaining about the Spiderman noodles when I served them up. He refused to come into the dinning room to eat with us. He ordered me to "PUT THE SPIDERMAN NOODLES AWAY!"

So I did.

"I WANT MY SPIDERMAN NOODLES!" He's so predictable. I calmy took the noodles back out of the fridge, warmed them, and told him that if he wanted them he needed to join us at the table. He did join us, still sniffling, and ate a few of his noodles.

You would think that after such a scene, I'd be frustrated and annoyed. But I wasn't. Partly, because I kept calm and managed to get my message through to Michael. But moslty because Michael is growing and developing well and I now have the luxury of not being a short order cook.


Deanna said...

Wow!! I'm SO glad you posted this! K-man is growing in length but he's just not gaining weight - it's so frustrating. He's super picky and I'm glad that he eats what he does. Our pediatrician isn't concerned but, like you, we are! He doesn't look unhealthy, but I'd love to see a little fat on his ribs, ya know?

Beth said...

I always said I wouldn't engage in eating battles, but that was before William came along. He actually eats a pretty good variety of foods, considering, but he never wants to actually stop what he's doing to eat. Of course, he'll gladly stop what he's doing to eat Oreos or ice cream sandwiches or jelly beans or fruit snacks. But a healthy breakfast, lunch or dinner? Forget it. The hard part for me is figuring out what is manipulative behavior, versus what is simply biological--his eating clock is just different from most people. But I'm learning as we go along!

Jen said...

I have a (sometimes) picky eater that likes to change her mind too. The reverse psychology is starting to work for us. "You don't want your noodles? Fine then daddy will eat them ALL." Then all of a sudden she'll come running "No, those are MY noodles!"

Mel said...

I think I may have the picky eater this go-around. Not sure if it is too early to tell, but the child refuses almost all baby food and baby cereals. She is quite plump on breast milk alone. As much as I love lactating, I would like to wean her some time before age 10! Maybe she will eat more table food as time progresses, but right now she may eat one spoonful of something a day, and only because I practically force it into her. Then I give up and just nurse her. I may have to eventually be a short order cook with this one;)

Stacey said...

I could have written this exact post on all accounts except it was bunny-shaped noodles vs. macaroni-- at least most recently.

Julie said...

I give you a lot of credit for keeping your cool on this one! It is maddening when you can totally predict the ridiculous-ness! My mom always comments in these situations about how we give our kids too many choices--I always tell her that is what we do these days. Great job getting him to eat a few noodles, even though you had to resort to your favorite (not) line about being a short order cook :)

London said...

You just can't win with 3.5 can you? BTW Batman has always been around the 5th percentile (and I've always gotten crap for it!) the funny thing is, he eats us out of house and home! Like I said, you just can't win.

Karen said...

I am the picky eater in this household. I give Michael two or three choices for lunch and breakfast. For dinner, he eats what we eat unless it's not ready when he is hungry. I want him to be able to eat more things that I do. It's hard to be a picky eater when you get older and I'm speaking from experience. And he is always going to be on the thin side, no matter how much food we give him.

LauraC said...

For the record, I never said I was not a short order cook! It was a LONG time before the boys started eating what we eat and even longer before we all ate together. Even now, we often have different meals. Like I make pasta and we eat our fancy sausage cream sauce and the boys get stuff out of a jar.

Obviously my hot button issue is - my kid is "this way" bc of something the parent did. Sorry buddies, I got some twin research to prove you wrong.

Are you still on there?!

Susan said...

hahahahahah - this post is funny. And you did great. I have heard the saying many times and I heard it from my doctor so I was one of those mom's. I did not make my kids several different things just because they wouldn't eat it. I know its hard and I know us mom's worry but unless there is a medical issue - they will all make it. My picky eater when he was Michael's age is now 19, 6'3" and 150 pounds. Yes, he is skinny skinny but he is healthy. My non picky eater is 16 and 6' and still growing and 235 pounds. Not an inch of fat on him - just one big boy =)