A Story About Teaching A Child Not To Throw Food
My youngest son, Simon, and I spent an hour today learning not to throw our food.
Of course I already know how to not throw food, except for maybe the occasional flinging from vigorous stirring.
But Simon. He throws food at every meal.
So we sat down to lunch (whole wheat angel hair with grilled salmon, feta, tomatoes and pesto) and Simon immediately wanted full access to his bowl of pasta. So he could throw it.
Oh no, Simon. Mama is going to feed you the pasta.
I loaded his fork and started to feed him.
Gimme that fork!
He said. In not so many words. But that’s what he meant.
Now I appreciate his need for some control. I can be a control freak myself, so I understand the desire to feel like I am in charge. So I let him have the fork. He fed himself the mouthful of food and then, with a twinkle in his eye, he tossed the fork on the floor. It was actually at this moment that I decided that we were having a lesson.
I have had it with the throwing,
I thought. So I pulled his high chair away from the table (and from me, behind a column where he couldn’t see me) and I said, calmly.
Uh oh, we don’t throw forks.
I went back to eating while he screamed in his chair for a couple minutes. Then I pulled him back to the table. Loaded the fork. Handed him the food. He ate the food. He threw the fork.
Of course he did. Simon is a fighter, and he’s used to having his way. There are plenty of people in this house who are happy to hand him back the fork. Or the passy. Or the toy.
But what Simon has not yet realized is that he is not the only fighter in this house.
I am tired, but I have some fight left.
Uh oh, we don’t throw forks.
And so we repeated: behind the column, screaming, back to the table, one bite, and then, toss.
How many times? I actually lost count. At least six or seven. Maybe ten.
At some point I finished my food. I fixed myself some cheese and crackers with jam, because if I am staying at the table all day learning not to throw food, or in this case, a fork, I am going to have some more to eat.
Then just when i was starting to think that I was going to have to up the ante and stop putting any food on the fork, I smiled and said,
Simon, give Mama the fork.
And guess what?
He did. He handed it over.
Yay Simon!! I yelled and clapped like a small child.
Simon loves to clap.
So he plays along. We finally finish the meal without time outs between bites. He hands me the fork every time.
It is at times like these that I realize I have forgotten how you often have to work a long time for some little training success with a baby. He isn’t impossible. He just takes time. Lots of it.
The best bit is that I had that kind of time today. No where to be. No one else yelling for something or needing to be driven somewhere. No one else picking up the fork and handing it to him.
Just Simon and me. Why, you ask?
Well, the other three are at middle school camp for the weekend with their daddy.
In fact, they’re probably throwing their food.