Monday, February 7, 2011

Expect nothing

One of the toughest parenting skills is learning to control our frustration in the face of a child's ever changing mind. This is especially hard to do when your child shows the slightest interest in something YOU want them to show an interest in. If your picky or resistant eater says at the grocery store "Let's get this, mom" with enthusiasm and you say "Will you eat it if we get it?", to which the reply is emphatically "Oh Yes!" You find yourself secretly jumping for joy inside followed rather quickly by anxiety and possible dread that you just spent money on something that won't be eaten. This is largely why I shopped for groceries by myself for a long time. It became too much to go on that roller coaster ride every time E would see something and ask for it and say she would eat it, only to have the item rejected summarily with accompanying tantrum or gagging. When she was finally old enough to begin explaining why she wanted to buy the item, I began letting her come with me again.

Now when she says she wants something, I know better than to ask if she will eat it. I know to ask why she wants to get it. The reasons have varied from because I like the color to because it has (insert favorite Nick Jr character) on it. I also know that describing what it might taste like can result in her actually trying it without fanfare. Recently, E saw a picture of rack of lamb in a cookbook and announced she wanted it for dinner. Before I spent $$$ on lamb for her whim, I fell into the old habit of asking if she would eat it, and she responded enthusiastically that she would. Luckily, I caught myself and told her it was meat like pepperoni is meat (the only meat she eats at the moment) and it would even be a little spicy like pepperoni. Her enthusiasm tempered but she said she would still try it. And she did. She licked the small bone then tried the tiny sliver I gave her before politely asking if she could spit it out.

And instead of disappointment as in the past, my heart soared slightly that there was a small success. I've learned that if I expect nothing, the victory is that much sweeter.

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