I suspect we’re not the only family where food, and what’s going to be in the next meal, features highly in our everyday conversations. I’m not proud to admit that one of my first waking thoughts – along with ‘Where’s My Coffee?’ – is ‘Oh God, what are we going to have for tea?’ Tea time is that end of the day, just before we can tumble the kids into bath and pyjamas and bed time, when sugar levels are at their lowest and tempers are, shall we say, short?
Many many articles have been written about children’s mealtimes… how to keep them at regular times of the day, how to get them to eat properly, use their knives and forks appropriately and I have lost count of the abundance of cookery books that tell us how to cook for our children. None of these I notice have ever addressed the thorny issue of HOW TO GIVE MY CHILD LUNCH WHEN HE WON’T EAT BREAD. (now there’s a niche market waiting to be tapped…)
For Small… the texture of bread just didn’t do it for him. He would take it out of my hands, knead it until it had the look and feel of raw dough and then…. He’d look away from me in disgust and drop it. If I managed to trick him into opening his mouth long enough for me to pop a piece in… he’d scrunch up his face like I was trying to poison him, lift up his tongue and force this rogue thing out. This was not food. Where is my lunch?? So, unlike every other family where you can just fly in from the morning’s activities and make sandwiches I’d be boiling up pasta… vegetables… the old favourite, the sweet potato, just to tempt his lordship’s tastebuds. Or, whisper it, in desperation I’d pop open a jar of Hipp’s finest. It’s definitely organic. And better than crisps.
And then something magical happened. Of course it happened at nursery, which is where almost all the new things happen. They push him harder than we do, as they’re not trying to fit in ten other things at once and, also, when he whines that it is outside his Small-ville comfort zone, that maternal guilt thing doesn’t kick in and they see if he will do it anyway. I can’t tell you how great nursery has been.
‘What did he have for tea?’
‘Well, he wouldn’t eat the scrambled egg’ (texture again), ‘so we gave him cheese sandwiches’.
I can’t quite describe the miracle that is eating of food as, unless you’ve started as far back as we have, it can be impossible to comprehend. Our OT says that once they have core stability, and aren’t spending all their brain power working out sitting, they start working on chewing. I thought this was ridiculous but it is true that now Small has worked out sitting (Small-style you understand, but he is there, and he is stable) he has started chewing. We have officially moved past mush. He has toast for breakfast, sandwiches for lunch – whipped up in 5 minutes! – and, well, he doesn’t have bread for tea, unless it’s emergency beans on toast, but you get the idea. It enables him to join in that most simple of things – eating the same food as everyone else, albeit in smaller chunks. He trusts me now that when I give him some food, it’s something he will eat, he doesn’t play with it, he’ll just eat it. It’s a small step indeed, but a huge one in terms of Small doing something just like the rest of us.
That’s why I’m linking up to Small Steps Amazing Achievements this week.