936 Pennies: Discovering the Joy of Intentional Parenting
Join our adventure and discover inspiration and resources for refusing rush, creating habits of rest, living intentionally, and making the most of this beautiful life!
Our kitchen is an oasis of creativity. Within it ideas are conceived, flavors explored, and works of art are plated. Within our kitchen bodies are replenished, nurtured, and nourished. Within our kitchen souls weary from a long day gather at a table and find rest, welcome, hush from the rush. In our kitchen there is solitude found in a meal composed of fresh ingredients and unconditional love. And in our kitchen—great battles are waged.
Oh those battles initiated by that beast we know too well. That beast that lives within the mind of our two-year-old. That picky eater beast that comes alive at the sight of asparagus, chicken, noodles, anything green, anything close to green, anything that he calls blue but really it’s green, and eggs. Those eggs. That beast hates those eggs.
Please do not assume that just because we cook whole foods, eat whole foods, write whole foods, that our two-year-old is just as on board of the whole food wagon as we are. He’s not. He’s human. He’s two. He’s rebellious at times, and it often comes out at the dinner table.
Believe me—I am right there in the thick of things with you. At times I feel an imposter. A hypocrite. This whole food mom who dares exhibit what we eat on the public world of the internet. And yet I turn around from writing of our adventures knee-deep in free-range chickens, organic blueberries and spinach to answer my son’s plea for a snack with what? A tortilla with cheese. Or a pancake. Something sure to please.
But then we awake one morning to a turn of events. I slip a fried egg onto Ezekiel’s plate and brace myself for battle. And then, with dawn on the horizon, he takes a bite at my first request. Swallows. Oh how hope swells within my heart! Another. Bite. Swallow. Half the egg is gone; past the threshold of his lips and his ever-so-finicky taste buds, down his throat and into his belly!
The momentum continues to build until only three bites remain. At which point I bring out the prize. Berry crumble. He eyes it. I explain the deal. Those three more bites must hit his belly before he can have the crumble. He rushes back to his plate and with great enthusiasm and no restraint he shoves all three bites into his mouth at once. Then stalls. Oh no! Not now little one! Not with the finish line so near and the crumble within your grasp!
His mouth full of eggs surprised him. Too much. Too fast. He gags. His eyes plead with me. He raises his left hand to grasp the air in utter frustration. His hand and head shake together as if to ask, “Why?! Why now, cruel world?! Why when the warm, buttery, sweet blueberry crumble sits so close? Why oh eggs do you plague my existence?” I see this all in his eyes.
I change my tactic. I demand he swallows. This rarely works, but everything is worth a try; the hope in my heart so deflated. My demands weary him. I change my position. Smile. “You can do it!” I encourage. “I’ll count to three and then swallow, ok?” My voice is optimistic. My spirit is not.
“One….Two…” I see him muster all that is within him to force his teeth up, down, chew, anguish, up, down, chew. “Three!” Again he stalls. “Come on, buddy! You’re so close to the crumble!” Nothing. Anger rises within me. My voice reflects this as my tone changes again. “Zeke, you have to eat the eggs to get the crumble. Swallow, all the way gone. Down into your belly. Now!”
I see the crumble quickly escaping his grasp. I have little fight left within me. “Ok buddy. Last chance. I’m going to count to three. If you do not swallow on three, then no crumble.” I repeat the last phrase to add emphasis. “No crumble.” I see understanding sweep across his eyes. I begin to count. He chews. Furiously. Preparing himself. Two. He’s running out of time. Two turns into three and I see him giving it all his might and….and! “Ahhhhh”. He opens his mouth to display an empty mouth. He’s done it. He’s done it! This is a big deal! And I let that be known. “Great job, buddy! You did it!” High fives all around. And the crumble is presented.
The truth is–we are new at this. We’re just trying whatever we can think of and seeing what works. We encourage. We bribe. We demand. We have not a clue what we are doing sometimes. What works changes from one day to the next. But despite this sometimes frustrating process, our two-year-old is learning to try new foods, simply because we keep trying. We don’t give in or let him win. Not once. Because of this, we are seeing results. This week alone he ate four new things, and without fuss!
If the creative and fun ideas have been exhausted, and you sense that there is a deeper heart issue of disobedience to be addressed, then allow me to empower you with this reminder: You are the parent, so be the parent!
There is a place for discipline, and sometimes that place has to be at the dinner table. A healthy dose of tough love early on will save the whole family from years of dinner drama and confused ideas about authority, expectations, and obedience. Put the hard (and sometimes emotional) work in now; it will pay dividends down the road when you have respectful children who also enjoy a wide variety of healthy foods!
Want some further ideas? I found this blog post (click here) helpful for coming up with ideas to help ward of the picky eating beast. As always, take some leave some, find what works for your family!
Raising kids stirs something deep in our souls — an innate knowing that our time is finite. Taking my kids outside in creation, I’m discovering how to stretch our time and pack it to the brim with meaning. God’s creativity provides the riches of resources for teaching the next generation who He is and how He loves us. Join our adventure and discover inspiration and resources for refusing rush, creating habits of rest, living intentionally, and making the most of this beautiful life!