Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Mealtimes - the good, the bad and the cheeky monkey

Oliver has been a pretty good eater so far. We haven't had major food issues and only very occasional mealtime tantrums. That's "the good".

But he is definitely a stubborn little chap at times and a couple of weeks ago we had a right royal battle at breakfast. He had been developing a habit of changing his mind about what he wanted for breakfast. No sooner had we got out the Weetabix requested than he opted for Rice Crispies instead. Then once they appeared he would decide it was really Weetabix he wanted.

So the other morning when he said he wanted porridge I asked him several times if he was sure he wante dit and told him that if I made it he had to eat some of it.

As I feared, when I presented it to him, he told me "don't like it" before he had even tasted it. So we decided to take a stand. I asked him to at least try it. He refused. So Hayley and I sat there eating our breakfast (which in my case was exactly the same porridge) while he complained, threw his spoon, stamped, shouted and generally got annoyed. We kept re-assuring him that if he just tasted it he could get down from the table. We weren't horrible to him and I gave him verbal and physical re-assurance.

There was nothing wrong with his food at all. THis was simply a battle of wills. He wanted to get his own way and we needed to show him that sometimes he has to tow the line.

His complaining went on for 40 minutes. And they were 40 very unpleasant minutes. But finally, when he realised we weren't paying attention to his shouting, he quietened down, picked up his spoon, said "porridge" rather mournfully and took a mouthful. Hayley then ran over to him from the kitchen and told him what a good boy he was before letting him get down from the table.

In black and white, and without the context of how his behaviour has become more and more demanding recently, that description may sound harsh. But the point had come where Mummy and Daddy had to stop taking the easy route of doing as he demanded all the time and demanding themselves for some compliance. Basically, he has to realise he can't be the boss all the time. It was a hard morning, but something I think we had to go through.

That's "the bad".

And as for "the cheeky"...

A couple of days ago after his main course at dinner he asked for a yoghurt. He had already wasted one the previous day and so I told him as I opened the fridge "Don't ask for this if you don't want it please Oliver. Daddy wants you to eat some of this if I get it for you, OK." To which he replied in a sing-songy, bibble-babble mimicry of my warning complete with facial expressions that basically equated to a toddler-speak version of telling me "blah blah blah..!" It's hard to convey how he did it, but both Hayley and I immediately recognised what he was doing and burst out laughing. "You cheeky monkey!" I told him and we all had a good laugh. Someday all mealtimes will end this way (I hope).