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Friday, July 3, 2009

What Have I Done Wrong?

Ensconced in the privacy of my home, I am very good at convincing myself of certain things. One such thing? That Toddlers are an inscrutable species, that they will do as they please and then one day morph into polite and decorous little people. I tell myself that toddlers are inherently poor eaters, that it is very normal for them to run around, never sit for a meal, graze on Pirate's Booty and pretzels and that it isn't weird. And the experts (our pediatricians) enable me in my delusions, telling me that 'Toddlers don't starve." Rather, they eat when they are hungry, they get what they need, and that putting undue focus or pressure on food and mandates to consume it will only create an "issue," and we all know that "issues" are to be avoided like that proverbial plague. And I quite like this laissez-faire philosophy of child-rearing, so I listen to it. Cross those fingers. Hope for the best. Occasionally Routinely offer ice cream as a reward (for a few bites and many tears).

But after spending time with other little ones (my sisters' kids in Wisconsin and Husband's cousin's kids here at the Cape), I have that sinking feeling that despite my own well-tailored rationalizations, despite the honest advice from an esteemed practice of docs, I have done something wrong. Last night, Toddler pitched a screaming fit when we put a plate of food in front of her. Very articulately, she told us over and over that she did not want to eat it. Now, her three cousins (ages 3-6), sat there like little gentlemen, chewing their chicken and sipping their milk. Their mother told them they couldn't be excused from the table until they had finished their meals and they listened. They sat. And ate. And then, later that night, when our girls were asleep and I was sipping a post-tantrum cathartic glass of Pinot, these little boys sat through our adult dinner again. Nibbling from their parents' and grandparents' plates. And that's not it. When dinner was over, these three little men cleared the table.

I know. It's not a competition. But I felt sad. And then I played a dismal game of Wii Bowling and felt even worse. And I am convinced that Toddler -- who is usually sunny and has been stormy -- is getting her molars and it is potentially painful to eat. Or, more likely, this is another self-serving excuse that will cushion me from a painful realization: that I am not perfect, that maybe when it comes to this aspect of parenting - the food/nutrition/waiting on elders aspect of parenting -- I have done something utterly and irreversibly wrong. Who knows.

Please tell me that my Toddler, despite her vitriolic anti-nutrition displays, will be a healthy and happy child. And that if I practice a bit, I will become a better virtual bowler.


  1. Speaking from a position 5 1/2 years ahead of you, things will be fine food wise. Some kids eat yellowtail and foie gras with relish, others eat as though they born in a convenience store. Sometimes, this can be the same kid going through different phases (not either of mine though!). The key is to offer balanced healthy meals (try the Bell and Evans chicken nuggets (sold at Fairway), some steamed broccoli and baby carrots, basmati rice)and sit with your toddler during mealtime. Encourage her to sit and eat for a little bit but if she doesn't she doesn't, she will not starve nor will she be a monster adult. She is 2 1/2 and I am betting that the cousins are all older and if there is a 2 yo in the bunch, he/she is benefitting from the older sibs. (Example: my 5 year old (starting K in the fall )knows multiplication tables, not b/c he is brilliant but b/c his sister learned them at the end of school this spring and we ALL relearned them :)!) Point is the vitrolic displays derive from being a 2 yo, not from your being a bad mommy. Final point, my daughter turned 8 last week and while she has always been tall, she was a chunky toddler. Slowly, her height has surpassed her weight to the point that this year, my ped asked me if we'd changed her diet or she'd become more active b/c she is now officially tall and thin. And I wish I could say I'd gone macrobiotic and cut out processed foods and gotten her a personal trainer but the truth is, nothing had changed. She has` always been active, always has dessert and I always knew it would fine. Trust your instincts and it will be for you too.
    PS: Can't help you with the Wii bowling, I stink at the Wii! Perhaps embrace your stinkiness (wouldn't you rather be a bad wii bowler than a bad writer). A comment for another day but accepting that you aren't good at everything can be good for you and doesn't mean you shouldn't do it (I am a horrible slow runner but I still do it 4X week and I love it!)

  2. Thanks for this post, it makes me feel like a "normal" parent! If it makes you feel better, AJ ate his corn on the cob under our table for dinner last night (and I didn't even care). Have a good 4th A!


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