Ah, the second child! He won’t stay in a high chair past the age of two, because he can see his big brother sitting on that glorious, normal, dining room seat, using a regular teaspoon or fork to put food directly into his mouth. He won’t stay in a crib, because he can see big brother sleeping on a bed. He’d like to forgo his massive car seat with the five-point harness for his brother’s booster seat (heck! he’d like to bypass all of this and just jump to the driver’s seat and take us all for a psychotically dangerous joyride, but I digress.)
Here is dinner with our lovely second child:
- food is put in his bowl, and mixed together, before he ever sees it, preferably while he is distracted by legos or Barney, far from the kitchen or dining table. The reason for this is that if he sees you serving the food, he will want to serve said food; he will think it’s his God-given right to serve said food, and if you don’t let him because, a) the pot is too hot, b) he will fling rice/sauce/veggies/chicken everywhere, or c) he’ll put way too much or way too little in his plate, God help you and prepare to steel yourself for the wrath you must now endure as he rails against the injustice of the universe.
- two spoons of said food are consumed by him, at his place at the table. On incredibly rare occasions (mercury is in retrograde and the tide is low and a butterfly has landed on a lotus plant in Mongolia) he will finish his entire plate, in good spirits, in one sitting. More often, after the two spoons he will get bored / angry / annoyed and a) decide it’s time to watch Barney/Paw Patrol/Super Why/Random ABC songs on YouTube, b) start threatening his sweet, poor, older brother with his utensils and/or sippy cup, c) attempt to put his shoes and jacket on and leave the house, or d) decide to feed you his dinner rather than eat it, complete with needing to spoon every spoonful himself and dropping most of it on your clothes / the floor as he gets it into your mouth.
- after this, it’s time to run away to do other things – play, sing, fight, build a lego tower, you name it. The key here is that it is NOT time to wash his hands or mouth. Any attempts to wash either hands or mouth will result in our angel contorting his body away from us, hitting, kicking, or turning into a sack of flour we have to quickly catch before he bumps his head on the kitchen floor, thereby giving up on the washing.
- We leave his uneaten food on the table in case he returns for random spoonfuls, which he sometimes does. Most frequently, he decides he is hungry again the moment we say “Bedtime!” He rediscovers the dining table (where was it hiding this past hour?) and stuffs 3 more spoons of food into his mouth, or wrinkles his nose and opts for a sandwich. This goes something like pointing with one finger in the general direction of the bread basket and shrieking “WICH!” Hubby thinks our darling boy would have been a perfect fit in Salem in the 1600’s, what with the pointing and hysterical declarations. I usually give up and make a “WICH!” I know that this way I’m encouraging him to forgo dinner for other food, but that is a battle I’m willing to postpone until I’ve slept at night without interruption for a month. For now, I’m just trying to survive.
- Sometimes, even “WICH!” is turned down. I will ask him, as the clock is winding down and bedtime is approaching, if he wants a sandwich and the answer will be a perfunctory “no”. Like, ‘why would I want a sandwich, mother? Why do people bother with food, anyway? How have we as humans not evolved past this point already that no one has bothered to invent a little blue pill for our nourishment?’ Inevitably, this all changes once he is in bed. He looks up at me, musters the sorriest look he can, widens those impossibly wide eyes and bats his long lashes and says, pitifully, ‘aakul aakul’. This is Arabic toddler talk for ‘I eat.’ As in, ‘I want to eat now.’ Nuh-uh buddy, sorry. You had your chance. You had ALL YOUR CHANCES. and you opted out. At this point, you’re just looking for a way to bring ants into your room and avoid bedtime. Neither of these sounds good to me. ‘Aakul aakul’ will have to wait until morning.