Thursday, January 22, 2009

The Food Feud, Episode 2

It's not getting better yet. Since we started this whole business, Mia has eaten very little dinner on her own. I've stopped yelling and stressing out about it. Or, I've tried to stop showing that I'm stressed out about it. It makes the meal too negative to be enjoyed by anyone.

Here's what usually happens:

1. Mia gets her plate set in front of her.
2. She looks at it skeptically, before declaring, "I don't like's too yucky."
3. Mom or Dad says, "Too bad, babe, this is what's for dinner."
4. Mom or Dad forks up her first bite, lays it on her plate, and tells her the expectations.
5. Which are - Eat your food, so you'll have time to play when you're done. Otherwise you will go straight to bathtime, with no playing. (Lately, we've added these: no stories or songs at bedtime.)
6. Mia says, "I don't want to play," with a dirty frown on her face.
7. Mom, Dad, and LJ start eating. Making all kinds of noise about how delicious it is, and how good Lauren is doing.
8. Mia squirms, sings, drinks, makes napkin babies, and plays. It doesn't matter that there is no toy in sight - her fingers become animals, walking across her chair and plate.
9. Mom or Dad tell her to turn around and eat.
10. She doesn't.
11. Dad bursts a blood vessel in his forehead after telling her to sit still and eat.
12. 45 minutes later, Mom sets the timer.
13. Everyone else is done, playing in the other room, or cleaning up the kitchen.
14. "10 minutes left until bathtime, Mia. You'd better hurry and eat if you want to be able to play."
15. Mia says, "NO PLAYING!"
16. She maybe takes a feeble bite or two.
17. "5 minutes left, Mia. Take another bite please."
18. The timer goes off.
19. She cries and throws a fit because she can't play games with Dad and LJ.
20. She's placed, sobbing, into the bathtub.

And so it goes. Breakfast and Lunch are better, but only because the foods are more kid-friendly, I'm guessing. However, I'm not going to feed her grilled cheese and chicken noodle soup for every meal. She's old enough to handle this. Right? She should be able to look at a healthy, home-cooked dinner and not have a meltdown. I've tried to serve healthy, well-balanced meals from the beginning, and I think I've done a relatively good job. Why won't she eat it?!

This has happened so much that I worry about her getting enough food to eat. Surely this is not neglect, right? Maybe the 'neglect' came in when we placed every bite directly in her mouth for her 12 months ago, or when we used juice or bread to bribe her to eat 18 months ago, or when we didn't let her use her own utensil 24 months ago because it was such a mess.

I feel so bad about this. There's got to be something we can do to fix the problem we've created.

On the positive side, though, hopefully we won't make the same mistakes twice. With Lauren, we'll have a whole new set of mistakes to discover.

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Hmm...And how did that make you FEEL?