Yesterday morning it took all of 30 seconds after I opened my eyes for me to realize that I wanted a s’more for breakfast. No, I’m not camping or even suffering from PMS. I just knew that all the fixings were downstairs and I imagined dipping that sticky mess in my morning coffee. The only problem is that both kids would want s’mores as well. Once again I’d be offering dessert with breakfast. It took all of 5 seconds for me to beat down the “shouldn’t” thoughts that tried to creep into my mind.
Both my kids are skinny; all knees and elbows, constantly stabbing me as they use me as a human jungle gym. I wish they had better appetites but neither of them has ever cared much for food. They eat when they are hungry, stop when they are full. They eat to live. I don’t bribe them with food or punish them by restricting sweets. Around here the name of the game is balance. Over the years while attempting to keep them alive, I’ve relied on them to guide me. By focusing on their taste preferences and natural eating patterns demonstrated in infancy, mealtimes are pretty stress free around here.
There are feeding problems and eating problems. Both my children have feeding problems. Hypotonia, medication side effects, allergies and sensory issues affect the way they chew, taste, and digest food. If I played by the rule of “should” and ignore their individual needs then I’d be as miserable and stressed out as many other moms I know. Eating problems develop when feeding problems are ignored or not identified. Mealtime is primetime for psychological issues surrounding food and body image to be transferred from parent to child.
There is such a big difference between feeding and eating problems yet when the natural process of eating to live becomes a struggle between parent and child, mealtimes become battles instead and what should be a natural and enjoyable process. I find it pathetic that eating and sleeping, two of the most basic and natural human needs have become areas where parents feel they need coaching and support from professionals in order to do it right with their children.
Science tells us that human beings are incredibly complex. It’s fantastic really, all the things that make up an individual. Identical twins have the exact same DNA yet they have different fingerprints. If such sameness at a molecular level can produce that kind of difference with the building blocks of life, then who are we to treat each kid the same when it comes to supplying them with the fuel that keeps them alive?
Dr. Spock told people to use common sense and trust their instincts. He also said to follow the directions given by the doctor. Dr. Spock admitted in later years that he had made some mistakes in his books and actively worked to keep up with the science and psychology of human development up until he died. He never stopped learning! Sometimes the doctor is wrong. The experts don’t know your child. Hell, you might not know own child.
My point? A food fight is only fun if you are shoving mashed potatoes in your cheeks and pretending to be a pus filled zit like John Belushi but that’s just my opinion.
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