Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Parenting 101: Sometimes cheetos are a part of a balanced breakfast

Or lunch or dinner...

This week in my house I have been learning another parenting lesson that I didn't learn in all my years of parenting education. Let me tell you this is significant, because I spent many years of my professional career BEFORE I had children teaching parenting. I'm not saying that I didn't have some good information to share with my students and clients, but I am saying that there was a lot that I thought I knew before I had kids, but I found out that there was so much more that I didn't know I didn't know. That being said, I think that my husband will agree that I am still usually the parenting expert in our house, which I admit has given me a bit of a professional mommy ego. So you can imagine my reaction this week when I saw my husband make great progress in a parenting battle we have been fighting since my sons babyhood by giving him Cheetos.

Since our Little Man was old enough to eat foods he has been a picky eater. Now this was a parenting lesson in and of itself, because I had silently judged all of those parents of picky eaters in my childless days. Knowing that that was a learned behavior that those parents had allowed their children to acquire. Oh yes my friends my horse was high and the fall has been considerable. Even as a baby the kid had a natural ability to forcefully eject any unwanted food from his mouth, and did. He REFUSES to try new foods, he eats only from what we call the beige food group, this food group consists of exactly three foods: bread, milk, and occasionally cheese. The kid won't even eat ice cream. Anyway all along I have been taking my own well meant parenting advice that was this, "You can't make him eat, so don't turn it into a control battle you can't win," and "He won't let himself starve, so don't stress over it." Lately that last bit has been hard to believe, because honestly when you can fit everything that your child eats in a day into a tablespoon, and count all of his little tiny ribs you start to worry, and you to start to doubt the know-it-all childless you. You start to wonder if your child is so used to feeling hungry, that he doesn't know when he's really hungry. Then the first piece of advice starts to haunt you because you know that it is true (at least you were right about something) and you start to feel trapped, and worried.

Finally with my son's hunger strike reaching frightening proportions this weekend Shane decided any food was better than no food and took Little Man to the grocery store where he picked out his own family size bag of Cheetos, a food that momma with her large parenting ego had banned. Knowing that my plan of passive insistence wasn't working however I did not argue, but I must admit I did not think that it would work.

Little Man was soooo excited about his Cheetos and Shane put a little pile on his plate next to three dinosaur shaped chicken nuggets. Little Man ate his Cheetos with gusto and then wanted more, Shane gently told him that he would be happy to get him some more as soon as he ate some dinos, I sat back waiting to be right, and then what should my eyes behold, but a little boy eating three WHOLE chicken nuggets, an entire string cheese, and a granola bar, with Cheetos mixed in. It was like Thanksgiving dinner for a preschooler, it was a miracle. Since then almost every meal has included Cheetos...this morning Little Man came to me and told me he wanted breakfast, I don't remember the last time he told me he wanted a meal, and do you know what he had for breakfast yes Cheetos, AND oatmeal! The kid wanted to try oatmeal! I don't think that this boy has had oatmeal since he was a baby (and even then he spit it right back out at me). Seriously I'm dabbing at little mommy tears right now.

So I learned that sometimes a few Cheetos can get you a long way and that dads do things differently from moms and sometimes different is just what the Little Man needs.


HolyMama! said...

i am completely inspired. (and laughing.)

Sara said...

I am laughing so hard right now. I thought I had it all figured out after college, but I too have been humbled beyond belief with my own kids. It's nice to know I'm not the only one who was so blinded by what the "book" said that I was completely side-swiped when I got to experience difficult situations first hand. Nothing...Nothing, can prepare you. :) I'm going to have to remember the cheetos trick. It just might work.

Lei said...

Yahoo! That's fabulous!