Sometimes Dylan mixes up his prepositions when he talks. For instance, he’ll say, “Mommy, are you happy at me?” What he means is, “Mommy, are you happy with me?” He usually says this after he’s gotten into trouble and wants my approval.
Here’s another one. “I’m tired from doing this.” What he means is, “I’m tired of doing this.” He says this when he’s feeling lazy and doesn’t want to do stuff like put on his socks and shoes, practice his writing, or take a bath.
“Dylan talk” is endearing, but Mike and I are trying to put more effort into correcting him, which isn’t easy. Another thing Dylan says a lot is, “Stop teaching me.”
Last night at dinner, he proved he’s been listening.
At least a few nights a week, I make a family dinner for the boys and me (Mike works too late to participate). It’s an attempt to get them to eat dinner at the table instead of in front of the television or Xbox and an effort to get them to try new food.
My strategy with family dinner is simple. I put a variety of new (hard) and friendly (easy) foods on the table and the boys can choose to eat or not eat whatever they want. There’s no pressure, but they know there’s a reward for trying something new. I even dimmed the lights and lit a candle for last night’s meal! The menu included:
Macaroni & cheese
Chicken nuggets (two kinds)
Carrot sticks & hummus
French fries with ketchup and ranch for dipping
Yogurt covered pretzels
I know what you’re thinking: These are all friendly, kid foods! Not in my house, my friends. Riley sat down and began grazing immediately. He ate some hummus, apples, chicken, and yogurt. It wasn’t a big portion, but he tried a few different things. Conversely, Dylan pushed everything as far away from his plate as he could. Next, he smelled the macaroni & cheese with suspicion because I cooked a different shaped pasta than he usually eats (different pasta, same cheese sauce), and then he left the table. He walked out on family dinner.
I’ve done a lot of reading on sensory issues and picky eating, and one thing I read time and time again is toavoid conflict at meal time. It elevates anxiety and makes it even harder for a child try something new or eat at all. As much as I wanted to force him to come back to the table (or lock him in a closet*), I kept my mouth shut. Then I heard this from the other room: “Mommy, I’m tired of you.”
Ouch. What he meant was, “I’m tired of you trying to get me to eat new food.” Ask anyone who knows me well and they’ll tell you how much I love and live for my kids, how heartbreaking it is to me that my child’s diet is so limited, and how desperately I want to help him overcome the physical and behavioral challenges that are keeping him from enjoying food.
As I sat at the kitchen table thinking about what just occurred and wondering what the hell to do next, it occurred to me that although his words stung, at least he got the preposition right.
Riley, on the other hand, needs some coaching. He got up from the table next, and as he left the room, a mischievous smile spread a across his face and he said, “Mommy, I’m tired from you.” Thanks, Riley. I’m tired, too.
p.s. Two hours later, Dylan tried the “new” macaroni and cheese, and after all the drama, he declared, “I love it.” Was it a food victory? Yes, but the path we took to get there didn’t feel victorious at all.
*Dear new readers, I would never actually lock my kids in a closet. Or hurl them out a window or strangle them with floss. (I may have written about these unpleasant thoughts in previous posts). It’s just my way of expressing the emotions that
some many all Mamas feel. Don’t worry, I almost always feel guilty as soon as I say it.