I suppose turning two heralds the beginning of a child’s first tiny step into becoming a little boy from being a little baby. And it brings with it the tussle between parent and child both trying to estimate the lengths to which each can be pushed to the limit. Neither aware of the process consciously but looking at it in retrospect each day that’s how it seems.
I don’t mean to rant on and on about the food battles that I have been having since the last three days. Even if it doesn’t make for interesting reading, I wanted to put it down for myself to organize the clutter this seems to have created in my mind. What am I doing wrong? Is it me or is it just the stage of development? Should I be working harder in figuring out alternatives? How do I spend the time it takes to keep trying many different alternatives and schedule variations when I have a little one to nurse every two hours? Does he just not like rice/dal anymore? That being our staple, how do I come up with nutritious alternatives at each meal? When he flatly says no for most things! Such questions clutter my head. At the back of my mind I know it is not just about the meal. He just turned two and he is entering a different stage of development. At 21m I felt like a switch had turned on. And once he turned two another new facet of my child emerged. He is increasingly stubborn and fights me fiercely when he wants his way. I give in and let him be his own person rather than crushing his spirit with my adult might. But when it comes to meals I can give in only so much. For if I give in, a few hours later the lingering child who still cannot fully express himself becomes cranky and wants to fill up on junk food like coco puffs. He asks me for that and for “pori” (puffed rice), for “jooch” (Gatorade) every now and then but he does not stuff himself with any of those. But when he is hungry he has the potential to fill up on those. Or so I fear since I have never let it go that far. I am trying now to make changes in his diet – reduce the amount of milk he has (he loves his soy milk – so far) and thus try to increase his solids consumption and also make the process less difficult on me during meal times. Problem is, as of now the milk consumption is going down but the solids consumption has not gone up. He is an active and healthy child but he is thin (not scrawny) and I worry he will get thinner. How does it matter if he is thin – he is the answer to America’s obesity problem – my doctor says. But it matters to me. The proof of my efforts does not stare at me starkly in the face in the form of rolls of fat. Forget the rolls just a little bit of solid flesh. I have come to accept that he will be thin but I cannot be relaxed about compromising on his nutrition. As B aptly put it with the saying, “When you want to go from the top of one mountain to the top of another mountain, the first step is to go down”. I suppose we are in the down phase now. I hope we get there slowly and steadily and start moving up the next mountain and enjoy the peak for a while. I hope the battle I had with him today to get him to eat his lunch – which he eventually did as if it was no problem in the first place – does not happen every day as a regular feature. He used to be a slow eater but these days he fights me hard. Which is why I need to collect myself and stay calm. For the next day.
There is something that is so wonderful in all this. When I see him smile and hug and exude joy when I play silly with him in the evening after having fought him so much, I wish I could be him. To be able to forget entirely what happened a couple of hours back when I had been his opponent in the tussle over his meal. We battled, he ate, we moved on. Now it was time for play and laughter. I suppose there is one reason this works between us – true unconditional love we have for each other. I feel anger and lack of any fond feelings for him the moment he makes me feel like an enemy. But when we cross the difficult road for that day, the gloom clears and the sun shines….the love I feel for him is beyond words.