On cookies and frustration.

Not that long ago I set out to find someone who was interested in doing a guest post for me. I posed the question to all the great people who are part of the Crayon Wrangler’s Blog Frog community as well as on Twitter and was able to get an immediate response from my new friend, Maryline, from Franco-American Dream! Needless to say I was excited… and still am!

Do you have kids? If so, you can totally sympathize with Maryline! I know I went through it with my girls and am going to be going through it with my son! Wonder what we’re talking about? Keep reading! 

This past month has reached new heights in dinnertime struggles with my now 17-month old.

Two nights ago was the perfect example of the doomed 6pm disaster…

And I mean it. Food everywhere except in his mouth. Constant screaming, crying, and kicking, with some head-throwing back against the high chair – just to spice it up. Me? Starting to scream back and lose my mind. Oh yes.

To the untrained eye, this baby is in excruciating pain from teething, it’s so obvious. He’s shoving his fingers all the way in the back of his mouth and literally screaming bloody murder. I was surprised none of the neighbors knocked on the door to check in on us.

But in reality, set him down, and all is fine again. So, now I know better.

Except this past night? Much worse. Screaming at the pasta which he normally loves, screaming at the applesauce… Come on, who screams and rejects applesauce, at 17 months old?

Do I really make food for him to just decide he will not eat? Hell no!

Food, I swear, is everywhere. He first spits it out, slowly so that the food slides down his chin and neck. He then rubs his face with his fists, slowly painting his cheeks, eyelids, and forehead with the edible body paint of the day…

Bibs at that point are WAY useless. In fact, I don’t even put them on. Why add to the laundry? The clothes were going to get washed anyway!

In the past moments, I’ve been fuming and cursing inside; at my husband, who should give it a try once in a while to give me a break; after my son who’s clearly not understanding I am feeding him THE very best; at the dog for not being able keep up with the nutritious projectiles covering the hardwood floor, the legs of the high-chair, and the tip of my toes.

By the way? Don’t wait for your kids to beg you to get a dog, get one the day you start solids with your first-born. It’s a win-win, trust me! (Actually, make that happen from day one if you can, as it turns out, dogs also crave wet burps. Gross? Not really, just convenient.)

And so that night, I felt like my son was going to bed on a nearly empty stomach. But soon after, realized I did not have a choice. Let me confess, just between you and I, I briefly attempted the force feeding thing (yes, the one thing all parenting books will tell you not do), it did not work well at all. The screaming was getting louder, the mess just bigger and my sanity was NOT saved.

And so tonight, I changed my approach, I filled a few small bowls with different foods he likes – Goldfish crackers, cantaloupe, raspberries – on the ottoman, and let him play/eat for a bit. Then I sat him in the chair, with a bowl of food (pasta, red sauce, beef – homemade!), and two spoons. With the dog in stand-by to clean up after him, always.

And I? Stepped away. Still there, just not by his side holding the fork or trying to entertain him as I always have done.

He actually ate at least as much as he would have with my intervention, not necessarily much more. However I’ll admit it was far less hectic.

I would not say quiet. But sustainable. And that is good news, because I have about 18 more years of dinners to go.

And this is how I realized my son is making his way through life, learning independence. Just like I’ve learned to let him play with the front door until he gets tired of it. Because a tantrum over a door isn’t worth it.

Conveniently, my son just learned a new word over the past few days: cookie, and with the French accent, please! It’s so cute, it actually sounds like ka-ki.

Tonight when he was pointing at the pantry chanting ka-ki, ka-ki, I did let him have a little piece so I could strategize on the dinner plan. At least I knew he would not go to bed on an empty stomach!

Sometimes cookies are better than nothing. No doubt the next lesson my son needs to learn is simply “no”. I will wait for my husband to come back from his business trip to get started!

When it comes to our children, don’t we all lose our mind over battles not worth fighting?

“Testing mommy’s boundaries, one meal at a time.”
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