Friday, February 1, 2013

Are You Eating My Food?

From the blog title, you might think that I've gone a little hungry-nuts on folks for eating my precious, hard-to-come-by food.  Ha!  Despite my healthy eating Challenge, I'm not hungry (unless I stay up too late at night...but that's my own fault!), and I haven't resorted to calling people out for eating my food.  I'm actually pretty surprised that with all my diet modifications and the fact that I'm eating WAY less than I used to, I'm not hungry or grumpy or watching the clock for my next meal.  That just goes to show that prior to the Challenge, I was overeating--I ate out of boredom, stress, and sometimes just for fun.  Now that I'm being more conscientious about my food intake, I eat healthier foods and I don't eat too much--gone are the days of feeling so stuffed, I can't move!

okay, sometimes I feel this way when I can't have ice cream

This post thankfully isn't about me lashing out in hunger--it's about Alex and his terrible eating habits.  We call him Mr. Contrarian, about everything in his life (not just food)--he will happily tell us one thing, and then seconds later change his mind and be totally against his previous stance.  It's hard to know what he wants--"Mommy, can I have more milk?"  followed by screaming, "NO!!!  I DON'T WANT MILK!" when I hand him his cup 30 seconds later.  Who knows what is up with that child, but he makes mealtime extremely frustrating.  The other night, Dan and I were having leftovers, so I was just making simple stuff for the kids for dinner--Abby wanted leftover macaroni and cheese, Jake wanted a sandwich, and Alex said he wanted a peanut butter and jelly sandwich ("lots of them," in fact).  So I made the boys their sandwiches and reheated Abby's mac and cheese, and called everyone out to the table.  Alex took one look at his plate and screamed, "NO!  I DON'T WANT A SANDWICH!  I WANT NOODLES!"  Of course, I hadn't made any noodles, and he had specifically requested the sandwich.  I tried to calmly explain that I simply made what he asked me for, but with a 2-year-old, rationality doesn't usually win.  He was beside himself.  I was at my wits end.  I wished my dad was here sitting at the dinner table with us.

Granddaddy with Alex when he was born

My dad and Alex have a sweet, adorable bond with each other that goes all the way back to his newborn days.  Alex was The Worst Baby On the Planet--my poor mom and I would have to hear him screaming all day long while my dad was at work (Dan was deployed, so I was living with my parents).  Coupled with being just awful in terms of the constant screaming, Alex was also crazy adorable--such a weird dichotomy.  In the moments when he wasn't screaming (mostly those fleeting newborn sleeping times), he was super cute.  That dichotomy exists in his personality today--when he's not happy, you don't want to know him at all (screaming is still an issue, but now it's 2-year-old tantrum screaming...equally unpleasant), but when he's in a good mood, he could win over even the most kid-hating person in the world.  I am always told what a sweet, wonderful little guy he is--and I always respond with, "Yeah, he's cute--but you should see him when he's unhappy!"  (Perhaps I'm still harboring some bitterness over his terrible first 6 months of life?)  It's not always sunshine and rainbows with that kid.  Anyway, when Alex was a baby, my dad would come home from work after a long day to find him screaming in his portable swing in the kitchen while my mom and I were attempting to get the big kids ready for bed.  I swear my dad thought Alex was just neglected (I promise you, he was not!)--he would immediately scoop Alex up out of the swing and take him into the living room, where I would discover them quietly staring at each other, content and happy, after I finished getting Abby and Jake in bed.  It was so sweet to see my dad so taken with my son--he loves Abby and Jake to pieces, of course, but something special happened between him and Alex.

When we have big family dinners, I always put Alex next to my dad at the table--my dad has an uncanny ability to make that picky child eat whatever is on his plate.  I've always been envious of my dad's magical influence on Alex--I've never been able to replicate it at home.  His tricks aren't all that fancy--he's big on reverse psychology--but they work for Alex, and he always eats well at their house.  For the record, reverse psychology doesn't work at all on Abby and Jake!  Alex is very competitive (he loves to taunt the opposition), and his sense of humor is such that he seemingly enjoys when others are upset (that sounds horrible, doesn't it?  We're going to have to work on that!).  He laughs when I pretend to cry.  He withholds kisses just to see me pretend to cry.  He says, "Be sad, Mommy!" with a huge smile on his face like it's the best thing ever.  In the interest of full disclosure, I also have a darker sense of humor (my all-time favorite TV show was about a funeral home), and I tend to laugh inappropriately (Dan absolutely hates it because my first response when someone gets hurt is usually laughter...of course, I'm right there to mend any boo boos for the kids, but I do laugh at the physical comedy a bit...)--so Alex may get some of that from me.  My dad has used these personality traits to get Alex to eat his food, by declaring that all the food is "his food."  He'll say, "Alex, are you eating my bagel?  Don't eat my bagel!  No, that's my bagel!" and Alex will promptly gobble up the entire bagel while saying, "Look, Granddaddy--I'm eating your bagel!" in a taunting, sing-song voice.  He's a little punk!

my dad getting Alex to eat!

When I made that peanut butter and jelly sandwich for Alex the other night and he screamed about it, I thought about my dad.  I've tried the "are you eating my food?" trick before without success, but it had been a I thought I would try again.  I said, "Alex, is that my sandwich?  I'm going to eat it!"  He immediately picked it up, said, "No, it's my sandwich, Mommy--I'm going to eat it!" and proceeded to eat the whole thing!  Abby looked at me with a little smile on her face and whispered, "Good one, Mommy!"  She was totally on to my game.  Yesterday, the "are you eating my food?" trick worked again at lunch time--Alex ate his whole bagel, a banana, and all his cantaloupe and honeydew.  The only thing he didn't eat was his strawberries, so I'm wondering if I can extend this trick to include foods he doesn't actually enjoy (like meat), or if it will only work for foods he's generally good about eating (if not in their entirety, like his bagel and melon).  The trick also worked at dinner last night--he gets a big kick out of saying, "Look, Mommy--I'm eating all your food all gone!"  Thanks for being such a trickster, Dad--it's helping me out with my obstinate child!

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