It’s 5.30pm. My kid is making circles in a bowl of yoghurt with her index finger. She sings a sweet little chorus: ’round… and round… and round’ before lifting the yoghurty digit to her mouth, slurping it off and diving in again.
This is her second bowl of yoghurt. And it seems this will be all she’ll eat for dinner tonight.
The tranquil scene I set before you belies the commotion of five minutes previous.
The plate of lovingly-prepared spaghetti bolognese, roasted kumara and fresh pear sits askance, having been bumped (yes, bumped) off the tablemat to its current location by frustrated little hands.
These hands are attached to the arms, to the neck, to the face, to the mouth of the child I bore. That same mouth that set in a tight little line and announced “NO” when presented with her plate of food.
She brayed (yes, brayed) for YOGHURT, and eventually I gave in (yes, gave in).
(Excuse me… I just had to pause a moment to scrape yoghurt off the carpet. Where was I….? Oh yes…)
Despite my best efforts to follow a baby-led weaning approach to solid foods for my baby- who is now very much a toddler- I still experience plenty of frustration over what she chooses- and doesn’t choose to consume.
Baby-led weaning encourages us to trust our child’s instincts about food. And the logic of relying on this instinct appeals to me. (After all, we don’t teach them how to suckle at the breast, do we? It’s just instinctive.)
But faith is somewhat tested when that child demands nothing but noodles for days at a time, or refuses the apple slices she just days ago couldn’t get enough of, or turns her nose up at anything (I mean, ANYTHING) that constitutes a vegetable. (I mean, how could she possibly KNOW kids are supposed to hate veggies this early on in the piece?)
So while I can be Super Smug about her obsession with all things blueberry, her gobbling up of chicken livers and her deep suspicion of anything resembling a commercially-produced biscuit or sweet; I also have my fair share of envy of other mums whose little ones enjoy all sorts of freshly-grown green things and eagerly experiment with all manner of new dishes offered to them.
And sometimes the frustration spills over, at 5ish-pm after a busy day, with a militant little toddler and the fresh disappointment of failure-to-nourish feelings lighting up one’s irritation lobes. One forgets the BLW mantra- mealtimes should always be relaxed, positive affairs- and the bargaining begins.
“Try some spaghetti for Mummy, and I’ll get you some yoghurt.”
“No yoghurt till you try your spaghetti.”
“Darling. You can’t just eat yoghurt for dinner. Come on, have some pear at least.”
“NO PEAR!! YOGHURT!! YOGHURT!! (sob sob wah) YOOOOOHHHH…GGG…IIIT!”
Well, you know the rest.
No doubt the ‘Supernanny’ could identify more than a few erroneous parenting choices in this little story alone.
But isn’t this the reality for most of us?
Sometimes your kid is going to eat nothing but yoghurt for dinner.
Instead of berating yourself with imagined scenes of other dinner tables where Perfect Parents watch their offspring happily scoop steamed broccoli florets into their devastatingly healthy mouths…. a better idea is to relax and try not to show (nor feel) your disappointment.
Kids can sense when they’ve won a battle that really hits your hotspots, and even the most angelic will happily engage in the same warfare again and again to test their boundaries.
If it doesn’t seem to matter to you All That Much, they’ll soon figure out that two and a half bowls of yoghurt for dinner is- frankly- rather one-note.