Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Bad Mommy Giving In

This evening I gave in. Again. I'm not sure whether to refer to it as giving in, I am so torn based on the information I read about setting boundaries for kids, helping them learn healthy choices, keeping my sanity, and ultimately not being a mean mom or a push over. What was the issue, you ask? Here is my facebook status that prompted this post:

I swear we are buying a fridge lock to stop this night-time-on-the-prowl-snacker-that-does-not-eat-his-dinner-4-year-old from opting out of dinner.

My first son, Kyle, who is 4, is a picky eater. Labels are bad, right? Ugh. But, really, he has a limited array of thngs he will eat... I've seen worse... but, still we have our battles... almost daily.

Early in the day I was ahead of things so I managed to ask myself the 5 o'clock question "what's for dinner" at 10am and then I thought "Hey, if I have the right ingredients on hand I can make a simple no frills crockpot meal!" I was super proud of myself because I used to be totally Type A personality and plan out everything. Then I got pregnant accidently (an oxymoron, right? cuz I was there and there was nothing accidental about the act itself...) with baby #2 and then again with baby #3... who does that? A future post for sure! So, here I am getting back to my meal planning. I've got chicken thighs, cream of chicken and carrots. Thought about doing artichoke or lima beans or even adding frozen peas, but I really want to keep this new crockpot adventure simple the first few times and have less hassles with the kids and hubby about not liking something "new".

Nobody liked the dinner. Except me. Well, hold on. Hubby took some to work and I haven't gotten his feedback yet. Kids had a Hawaiian roll to go with it, they had the option to have fresh baby carrots out of the fridge to replace the cooked carrots. I tried to say "It's like rotisserie chicken!" But that didn't fly.

I suddenly remembered that I had bought a bag of Ghirardelli Limited Edition Peppermint Bark to enjoy while doing Christmas activities (hold on while I go get the bag and make sure I'm spelling that right).

and since we forgot to get them out while decorating the tree today... and I wanted to put on Home Alone for them I resorted to that tactic "For everyone who eats a good dinner I have a chocolate for you." Amberly, who is now 6, usually does a great job with eating a balanced meal... she did in fact eat a little tiny bit of the chicken, ate two rolls, had a handful of baby carrots and we called it even. Owen, who is 2 and is still breastfeeding (so I don't have to worry much about his belly being full cuz he will fill it literally before going to bed), ate his roll, a few baby carrots, and would not touch the chicken, mainly because he heard Kyle saying it was gross. How I love parroting. Not. At least not in this situation, otherwise it is totally adorable and annoying at the same time, if you know what I mean. Kyle, obviously did not eat the chicken forfeited his roll to Amberly, don't ask me why. And he was the one who asked to switch out the cooked carrots for fresh carrots, yet he maybe ate 3.

That bag of Ghirardelli chocolates is calling my name. Good thing I only had one earlier and 3 is considered a serving ; ) Um, does Kyle have this thing about after dinner snacking problem from.... me? Crap. Can we say - LIGHTBULB!

I often will sit and monitor Kyle having a fair number of bites in order to have the treat. Having grown up in a "clean your plate" family, I do not use that method. I give choices about number of bites of foods from their plate and if there is one thing they for sure don't want that item doesn't have to be touched. They can generally have more of a given item so long as it is one of the higher nutrious items on their plate, which means extra roll or pasta doesn't cut it... extra veggies or extra protein totally works. Kyle is not anti protein. He just likes it in the more highly processed form. Hot dogs, chicken nuggets, cheeseburgers - and those he does not like when we grill it "only from a restaraunt". I've gone through my phases of having too much snack food in the house and phases of being ultra healthy. Now, I think we're at a happy medium. We're consistently cooking at home. Instead of the 2 or 3 times a week where we were asking ourselves where are we going for dinner, we're down to about once every 2 weeks, which is a huge victory for us. Problem though is that the kids are still adjusting. I'm still trying to figure out the balance of coming up with meals everyone likes that equals nutrition, not just a full belly. It is a journey. One that apparently has no end.

So, I told Kyle that Amberly and Owen had filled their bellies and he insisted he was not hungry. He has in fact chosen to go to bed hungry on a number of occassions. Those are successful when both hubby and I are here and can split the headache of being consistent. I think one reason this snacking thing came back into play is a babysitter recently advised us that he had gotten out of bed and said he was hungry and asked for a tortilla. Holy shit. That is literally the thought that came to mind but I just smiled and realized it wasn't her fault if I hadn't told her specifically not to allow any snacking after bedtime routine gets underway. It had been awhile since Kyle had played this game. 20-20 hindsight. Now I'll just have a standby written list of rules... guess I better work on that!

I gave Kyle the chocolate. Bad mommy. I totally know better. Don't worry those of you who are shaking your head and tsking. It came back to bite me in the ass.

Owen was really tired, I couldn't fight Kyle to lay in his bed and nurse Owen at the same time. I told him as soon as I got Owen to bed I'd come and get him to put him to bed. He said he was going downstairs to play with Legos. I knew though.

I came downstairs to discover Kyle trying to use a steak knife to cut an apple. WTF! So of course I over react because he has a KNIFE and HE'S FOUR! He wants me to cut it for him. I say no, he can eat it off the core. I tell him Mommy's role of preparing food is over after dinner is over. He does NOT like eating apples this way - yet. I offer him his plate that has not been cleared yet. Fast forward 20 minutes. Maybe longer. He's miserable. I'm miserable. My upset and his upset no longer seem worth it since afterall it is an apple and that is a more nutritional item than a tortilla (that was his old standby, which I'll write about in another post because it involved calling my MIL). At the same time I question my lack of fortitude to power through the upset is going to be a problem tomorrow night, and the next night, and the night after that....

My best friend struggles with a picky eater 4 year old son too. Her husband recently sent me a message on FB:
I attended a lecture which talked about how kids taste buds are genetically programmed and evolve with age. Such that, forcing kids to eat will not make them eat and "the 1950s style of eat it and like it" will not make them like foods any sooner than when their DNA tells them too. Key thing was most pickiness resolves itself with age as the genes allow more foods to wave through the taste buds. Pretty fascinating and seemed right up your alley. Theme was to try to give kids what they like to eat, within reason. Good to see science debunk the crazy myths of our parents.

I always think my situation is way tougher. Why? Cuz I walk in my shoes. But, really I know I'm not alone in this struggle to find "the right answer" so chime in and give me your slice of the pie. I'm a tough cookie, I can take some constructive criticism... maybe some more of us moms will have our eyes opened to some great tools even!