Monday, August 8, 2011

Thoughts surrounding food

I read this today and just about cried in relief.  Someone else, someone I dig... experiencing the same thing.  Sharing thoughts, insights, questions.

Yesterday a friend met up with Leone and I at the local beach.  It was an incredible day- perfect temperature, perfect blue sky, perfect river flow... perfect.  But then I jokingly mentioned giving her a cheese stick if Leone hadn't of eaten the last one, and BOOM.  He starts saying that he doesn't like my friend.  He wants her to go away.  He doesn't like her.  GO AWAY.

At the time, I hadn't even thought about the damn cheese stick comment.  I was shocked, totally shocked, that he was being so mean and rude to her.  I immediately told him to apologize- he went silent.  Then, he gave her the stink eye.  And said he didn't like her.

Shocked.  Absolutely shocked.

Off we went to sit on the nearest naughty rock I could find.  After two minutes and a stern lecture (right?  cuz' that's sure to help?), we attempted the apology.  Nothing.  NOTHING.  Right back to the naughty rock (with questioning in my eyes, and silent begging that my kid make the right choice here, come on, come on, come on....).

As we go back to apologize (PLEASE!), he mentions the cheese stick.  He doesn't want to share his cheese stick with her.  She can't have it.  No sharing.

(Never mind that there was NO cheese stick to share!  Don't you remember, Leone, don't you remember that you ate it already?)

The morning ends in a miserable fashion- he refuses to apologize, starts timidly throwing some river rocks our direction, and my friend begins to feel a bit abused due to the constant commentary from the one in diapers about how much he doesn't like her.

This morning?  This morning we made it to Target.  As we're driving there, he starts talking about the dollar goldfish containers in the dollar bins.  He wants goldfish.  He doesn't want to share.  I'm not supposed to pay.  Don't give it away.  No sharing.  He wants the goldfish.  GOLDFISH.

I eventually go against every grain inside of me and tell him that the goldfish will be for him only- no need to share.  Leone only.  Then, and only then, does he calm down.  That is, until some random woman happens to walk by our cart as he is munching away on his dollar goldfish crackers... at which point he shoves them under his armpit, frowns, and proclaims "MY GOLDFISH!  I'M NOT SHARING!"


Daycare is steadily approaching.  Last year Leone was made to eat all of his food in a high chair- he was known as the kid who would eat everyone's food at the table.  Solution?  High chair.  Did this ever mean he ate all of his own food?  No.  He would come home with tons of food in his lunch bag- nothing ever consistent.

The past few months have been super nice because he has stopped stuffing fist fulls of food in his mouth- you know, to the point where he would gag every once in a while or eventually have to spit it all out so he wouldn't gag.  Now he typically sticks with smaller bites, but he's all about grabbing food from tesoro and me when the chance it right.

Needless to say, this all makes it a wee bit tricky to teach him about table manners.

Is it possible that the food insecurity from his early days (he left Ethiopia when he was four and a half months), when he was severely malnourished, have impacted him so deeply that what is happening right now is due to that?  Or is it that he's just a tricky little bugger and needs some good old-fashioned discipline?  As I walked around Target this morning, watching him hide his crackers whenever someone would glance at him with a smile, I decided that it must be that first one.  That although he was so young in age, his very beginnings were filled with hunger and he's still trying to make sure he gets what he needs.

I'm not sure what to do.  Every once in a while I pick up a snippet of food off his plate- and whew!  Am I ever reminded of what a bad choice that was!  We've managed to get him to ask (although it takes our consistent reminders) for food from our plate, but when the question is pointed at him- NO WAY (well, unless you happen to be tesoro).  And if we happen to go to a gathering in which food is just set out?  Our Leone is the only toddler right next to the buffet, stuffing chip after chip after chip in his mouth.

He is so, so, so... territorial (perfect word for this!) about his food.  I now officially begin to feel nervous when we eat with anyone besides our little crew.  We have food available for him, but he always seems concerned that someone, anyone, might decide to take a huge bite away.  And we've found that if we give him snacks whenever he asks for them, he's full by dinner time- meaning that a gathering 'round our table tends to be far from peaceful and nurturing.

Might you have any words of advice?  Thoughts?  Recommendations?