You know what I suck at?
I never have any idea what to feed Elijah for lunch. For me it’s easy, I just eat leftovers of last nights dinner, or a black bean burger, or make a sandwich, or something like that. I always wing it, I never sit and plan for lunch.
I’m beginning to think that might be my problem, especially in light of the fact that I’m dealing with such a picky eater. I don’t know why, but I’m very resistant to planning and scheduling everything out. It seems strange, because I feel like I really thrived under a strict schedule in the Army, but then, I wasn’t the one making the schedule back then, and there were clear and often painful consequences if I deviated from it. Now, I don’t know, I just don’t want to do it. But I’m starting to think Elijah might really need it, and maybe, just maybe, for my own sanity, I need it too.
For Elijah, lunch most often looks like either a repeat of breakfast (another bowl of oatmeal, please, mom!) or a tiny snack that most often leaves him in need of many more tiny snacks as the day progresses. I usually offer something more substantial, only to have him refuse it before I prepare it (which is often preferable) or to watch it go cold and see the cats eat it. The list of things he will eat for lunch is pretty short, for starters, he very rarely will eat leftovers from dinner the night before, most often because he wont eat dinner. Because he so rarely eats dinner and often goes to bed hungry, I like to try and make sure he at least eats a good lunch. He won’t eat bread, so a sandwich is out. He also has that egg allergy (which he does seem to be growing out of, he no longer vomits when he eats egg, but he still gets terrible gas, so we’re restricting it a little bit longer to see if it improves any), so that limits us further. And if we find something he loves, he generally will only love it two or three times, then he won’t touch it again for months, maybe even years (have I ever mentioned the banana story?). On top of all of this, I won’t eat or don’t want to eat almost everything he will eat for lunch (on the rare days he will eat those things).
Part of me fears that by making lunch a more planned and formal affair that it will start turning into our dinner experience, with him whining “I don’t like that.” and me responding “then I guess you’re going to go hungry then.” Elijah is a monster when he is hungry and, contrary to what people say about kids if you let them skip a meal, the longer he goes without eating, the harder it is to get him to eat. There comes a point (usually when it’s been around two days since his last bite of solid food) that you start offering him candy just to get him to realize that putting food in your tummy is what’s going to make you feel better. Then I get into this frustrated state where I just throw my hands in the air and say, “Sure! You can have Sunchips, Frosted Flakes, and fruit snacks for lunch, and you don’t have to sit at the table, just please, for the love of God, eat something!” (Please don’t ask why I have these items in the house in the first place, my husband buys them)
But, in reality, he frequently ends up skipping lunch anyway, so how much of a change will it really be? Usually he doesn’t want to slow down for lunch, so it ends up getting cold (and then he asks me to reheat it several times until it turns into leather and he won’t eat it), or the cats end up stealing it because he wasn’t paying attention. Yesterday he asked me for breakfast cereal for lunch, which I consented to, only to find that by the time I was done heating up my leftover turkey curry, he had dumped the whole bowl of cereal in the sink, saying his tummy was full after all. I was so furious! Half an hour later he was asking for snacks, and I refused. “Not for three more hours” I said.
“But that’s a long time! I’m hungry!”
“I guess you shouldn’t have thrown your lunch away, then.”
“I didn’t like it!”
“You ASKED for it!”
Grr! Food is so frustrating with him! I know it’s a power struggle, because remarkably, he doesn’t eat like this for other people. Granted, most everyone else he stays with let’s him graze as he pleases, which isn’t possible here even if I wanted it to be because we have a cat that steals food like he’s starving to death, and thinks a bowl of Lucky Charms or pop corn is a perfectly wholesome meal, but he won’t even eat those things for me half the time.
So maybe scheduling this, making it more of a part of our daily rhythm, will be better for him. In my readings on Waldorf, I’m beginning to understand how comforting and healing giving children a rhythm can be. My problem is that I suck at it so bad. Schedules just really aren’t my thing. I need to get better at that.
Who knows, it might even be healing for me.
Guess my baby stats!
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