Monday, November 17, 2008

A raccoon by any other name would still not speak

Some of you may be aware that our 3-year old has an eating problem. In that he doesn't eat. Anything. At all. Every time he agrees to put food in his mouth, we count a victory. We have found a few things that J likes to eat, but even then there's always a fight about food.

We have been to specialists. We have found nothing that works. Our 3-year old is about the size of a typical 2-year old. At three-and-a-half, he weighs only 26 pounds. Every meal takes three times longer than it should. It's a constant struggle.

Do you want to know what a typical mealtime in our household is like? It goes something like this:


T: J, what do you want for lunch?
J: Eggs.
T: Okay. You want eggs?
J: Yes, please.

(Because the little tyrant is nothing if not polite.)

T: Okay. Let's go make eggs.
J: I want the sunny brown ones.

("Sunny" means "light", I have learned.)

T: Okay. We'll use the sunny brown ones.
J: Can I watch you?
T: Yes, you may watch me crack the eggs.

(J pushes his stool over to the stove to watch me crack eggs into the frying pan.)

T: Okay. Here we go.
J: I want that egg.
T: We're going to use that egg.
J: And that one.
T: Okay.
T: No, J. I will crack the eggs.

(I crack the eggs into the pan. Two eggs for J.)

T: I'm going to turn the burner on now, J. You need to move your stool.
J: Oh. Okay!

(J puts his stool back at the counter.)

J: It's not right!
T: What?
J: My stool! It's not right!
T: Oh. You mean it's not straight?
J: It's not right!!
T: Okay.

(I straighten the stool, which was very slightly crooked. But apparently, if it's not 100% straight, it is completely unsatisfactory. J is appeased. I then turn the burner on.)

J: Are the eggs cooking?
T: Yes.

(N awakes and starts to cry. But I am powerless to do anything, as the eggs are cooking and require constant stirring in order to scramble to J's satisfaction.)

J: N's crying.
T: Yes, I know. I'll deal with him after your eggs are done.
J: I'll help!
T: No. You need to eat. I'll handle it.
J: But I wanna help you.
T: You need to eat, or the cat will get your eggs. I'll be quick.
J: Okay.

(The eggs are cooked and J's portion is put on his plate. I go to get N, who is now shrieking at top volume, and I instruct J to stay at the table and eat. But J gets off his chair and comes after me anyway.)

T: J, you need to sit at the table and eat.
J: I just need to get my red dice.
T: No toys at the table, J.
J: But ... um ...
T: Go back to the table and eat before the cat gets your eggs.
J: Oh! Okay!

(Runs back to the table and climbs in his chair. I finish changing N and return to the kitchen. I dish out my now cold eggs and sit down to eat. And as I do so, I notice that J's plate is untouched.)

T: J, why aren't you eating?
J: My eggs are too hot.

(I check the eggs, which are only mildly warm at this point.)

T: They aren't too hot, J. Please eat them.
J: No. They're too hot.
T: J! Eat your eggs!

(J takes a bite. I finish my eggs. Then go to get baby N to give him some cereal and formula. I return to the kitchen to find J banging his fork on the back of his chair, with a full plate of eggs in front of him.)

J: This fork is a bell.
T: No it's not. Now eat.

(J throws his fork on the floor. I wash it and give it back to him.)

T: Now eat.

(J returns to banging his fork on the back of his chair.)

J: This fork is a bell.
T: J! Stop playing and eat!

(The eggs are ice cold by now. J holds up a contraband red Lego for me to see.)

J: This is a dice.
T: You're not supposed to have toys at the table, J.

(I take the Lego away. J starts playing with his eggs, dragging his fork across the plate and spraying them over the counter. I put the eggs back on his plate.)

T: Don't play with your food.
J: But raccoons play with their food.
T: But you're not a raccoon.
J: Yes I am.
T: No, you're not.
J: Yes I am!
T: Fine. You are. But you know something?
J: What?
T: Raccoons don't talk!
J: Yes they do.
T: No, they don't.
J: Yes they do!
T: No. They don't. Raccoons don't talk. They don't talk at all. Raccoons don't do much of anything. They just sit quietly at the kitchen table and eat their eggs!!

(J mulls this over for a moment.)

J: I'm a talking raccoon!
T: There's no such thing.
J: Yes there is! I'm a talking raccoon!
T: No, you're not. Because raccoons don't talk.
J: But I'm a talking raccoon!
T: J! Eat your lunch!

(By this time, I have finished my lunch and N has eaten his bowl of cereal and is now eagerly drinking his formula.)

J: Feed me!
T: I'm not going to feed you. You're a big boy. You can feed yourself.
J: Feed me!
T: No! I'm not going to do it!
J: Feed me!
T: Feed yourself.
J: I can't do it.
T: Yes, you can.
J: I can't get these eggs!

(I balance N's head on my arm and hold the bottle with the same hand. I scoop eggs onto J's fork with my free hand, and instruct him to put the eggs into his mouth. Instead, J pours the eggs over the counter and onto his chair. I scoop them back up and put them on his fork, insisting that he eat them. And the rest of lunch goes like that. I scoop the eggs up, J pours them on the chair, I put them back on the fork, J puts them in his mouth. Finally, he finishes.)

T: Good work, J.
J: Thank you, Momma.

(I put N back in his swing, and go back into the kitchen to give J a glass of milk. I find J lying on his back on the floor behind his chair.)

T: Do you want the yellow glass? Or the blue?
J: Green!
T: Yellow? Or blue?
J: Spiderman!
T: Yellow? Or blue?
J: Purple!
T: Blue it is!
J: NO! NO! NO!
T: Yes. Blue it is.

(I pour milk into J's glass. J continues to lie on his back on the floor behind his chair.)

J: I can't get up.
T: Yes you can. Now get up.
J: No. Pick me up!
T: No. You can get up.
J: No, I can't! Lift me up!
T: Get up, or I'm putting your milk back.
J: Lift me up!
T: Fine. Have it your way.

(I start to pour the milk back into the carton. J flips out, stands up in a hurry and climbs up onto his chair. I give him the glass of milk.)

J: I couldn't get up.
T: Yes, you could.
J: No I couldn't.
T: You just did.

(There is a slight pause as J contemplates this.)

J: You're not being very nice to me.


The kids are asleep. I need to study now. Exam December 3. I am not prepared.


steenky bee said...

Oh dear, this sounds familiar on so many levels. I want to tell you that my three year old is just like that, but really, he's not. He eats when he's hungry and we are forced to play a little game with him at dinner time. Husband and I talk like our son isn't with us at the table and make bets that Henry won't his fish/chicken/pasta whatever it is. Henry loves proving us wrong so he begins downing food. Now, this is all fine and good now, but when he turns 12 or so, we're in for some tough times. I fear that we're teaching him to be a rebel.

steenky bee said...

Also, FIRST!!!!!!!!!!!

Momma Trish said...

Steenky Bee - I sure wish that kind of thing worked with J. But he doesn't respond to reverse psychology. Or anything else we've found. I wish he did.

LOL on the "FIRST". Darlin', I don't get enough comments to be able to play ... over here you're not just "FIRST"; you're "ONLY"! Heh!

goodfather said...

Hey, followed you over here from the Steenky Bee! I like your blog! And this story really got me, heh.

We have had the same issue with our three-year-old, until I introduced her to Pocko. Pocko is my hand puppet/muse (his lower jaw is my thumb). He talks in a Grover-like voice, and I've found that if Pocko takes a bite (it can be very messy for me), my three-year-old will too. Almost every time. Her favorite game is to feed Pocko, which can also be extremely messy, heh. Pocko's only rule is that if he takes a bite, whoever's feeding him has to take one too. Whatever works, right? ;)

Seriously, getting kids to eat is serious.

goodfather said...

FOURTH!!!! And, FIFTH!!!!!!

Captain Dumbass said...

SIX! Did you try the grilled cheese with the cookie cutter? It's still working over here. We've had problems with both of them eating, but the doctor just says they'll eat when they eat. The oldest has begun foreshadowing himself as a teenager. We're trying to figure out where the second fridge will go.

Momma Trish said...

goodfather - Hey, welcome and thanks! Hope you stick around. I'll try "Pocko" ... anything that might work is my motto.

Captain Dumbass - Haven't gotten a chance to try yet, but I'll be doing it soon. We have to get something to work; the doctors are threatening to start a feeding tube on the poor kid. He's the exception to the rule of "He'll eat when he's hungry" ... this child genuinely will not. Frustrating beyond belief!