Remember this mnemonic device?
“My Very Educated Mother Just Served Us Nine Pizzas?” which helps you remember
Or the post-2006 version after Pluto was Boot-o-ed: “My Very Educated Mother Just Served Us Nothing”? It’s not just the order of the planets. It’s my life.
You know you’ve got a picky eater when you think, “Oh, how I wish I could get my child to eat pizza.” Then I remember that as a general rule I don’t like pizza. I am definitely a discerning eater, but I have the skill of eating many things that don’t taste amazing to me. I wish Salty would develop that skill.
Ever since Salty’s picky-eating intensified around the time I stopped caring about the kids’ nutrition in order to focus that energy into selling my house, I have blamed myself for Salty’s confined diet. But it looks likely that picky-eaterism is mostly genetic, and therefore, my fault in a totally different way. Somehow I find that comforting.
We’ve been trying some new methods with Salty, and he has mostly dug in his heels with a strength far surpassing his two year-old ectomorphic frame. A couple of days ago, the similarity between Fluffy and Salty struck me. Fluffy has always been a fab eater, for which Kent and have slapped each other on the back a thousand times. She’s into every ethnic food, down with spice, eats at least a couple no-thank-you bites of vegetables. It’s great. So the similarity to Salty is not in her attitude toward food, but rather toward potty training.
Fluffy was a terrible potty trainer. She gained the skill early, but refused to use it. So we did the suggestions of forcing her onto the potty every 15 minutes, and the like. It was torture for all involved. She was defiant. Finally, I read up specifically on potty training defiant children, and the advise was exactly the opposite of the mainstream potty training methods. The experts said to leave her alone, to let her be 100% in charge of when she would sit on the potty, and to try to provide positive reinforcement.
We found a swimming class that she really wanted to try. We told her everyone who did the class had to be potty trained (which was true), so she would need to be trained in several weeks. We explained she was in charge of potty training herself for swim class. We would not make her sit on the potty any more. No time outs. No suckers. Just, potty train yourself.
She was instantly potty trained. She started that very day, and never went back. Never needed night time diapers. Had very few if any accidents. She was done. Which made me realize that we had not been having potty training struggles for the preceding weeks and months, we had been having power struggles.
So yesterday, I made Fluffy’s bowl of tomato soup, and didn’t say anything about it to Salty. When against all odds he asked me for a bowl of soup, I hid my astonishment and served him soup like it was no big deal. He took a few bites, then gave up. I didn’t pressure him.
It’s hard to get my footing in the picky eater debate. Some experts treat picky eating as a parenting issue, while others maintain it is a genetic predisposition on the rise like allergies which requires sensitivity and accommodation. And both those camps have books to sell. So whom to believe, and more importantly, what to do?
I’m going to take a couple of days to try the nonchalant approach. A few bites of tomato basil bisque after 3 nights of absolute dinner time stonewalling feels like a victory.