Thursday, January 31, 2008

From 60 to 50 to 45 to 27!

That is the number of minutes to give my dear son his meal!

KB and I have gone through some kind of learning process together in the last two weeks! He has been a difficult eater - mostly because he is extremely slow...plus he loves to read or talk about some story or sing some song while having food in his mouth. Two other things - he used to open his mouth just a tiny bit for each spoon and he really (even now) cannot ingest too much food at once or he tends to gag. I have a very strong gag reflex to (as commented upon by my dentist, that it is stronger than he has seen in most people) and he is the same way. So if I try to shove more food than he is comfortable with, he just pukes it out. In all, this has been a battle of sorts for both me and KB. It wasn't as much of a problem before baby girl arrived - I would grit and bear and sit through what ever time it took to feed him. Now I am less patient and also have less time. And I also have baby girl who is spoiling me with her amazing - zip, zap, done mode of eating! In all this, both B and I discovered that the main reason why baby girl finishes her food fast is just from the simple fact that she opens her mouth much wider.

B has been working late for the past two weeks. As it is, he comes home around 8.00 - 8.15pm from work. The last few weeks he has been coming anywhere from 9 - 11.00 pm. You can imagine the drain on me mentally to suddenly be alone until bedtime. He would be tired when he got home, so naturally he would just go to bed. He was just not available for me most of the time even when he was home. And I think KB too missed him a lot - the one or two hours at night when he spends time with his dear daddy.

One morning, I think on Jan 13, I gave KB his lunch. Usual dal/rice/vegetable combo.
He kept asking me for some book or the other, ones that were not in the basket under the dining table - so I had to keep getting up to go get him the ones he wanted. And he asked for some CD or the other to be played. He then asked me to warm up his food again. I just lost my patience (partly because I was really exhausted mentally from feeling like I am doing all the work for the kids) and yelled at him. Yelled is an understatement. I was sounding like a maniac, I am ashamed to say. I told him very loudly, "Open your mouth - BIGGG'aaa"! "Don't open it like a little bird, open it like a tiger...AAAAAAA...appdi open pannu, big big big" I shouted at him. He was really angry, upset and started yelling back at me and crying saying "SMALL'aaa" and he was in tears. I usually hug him right away if I even yell at him mildly - but I was so upset, tired of so many months of my hoping that he will get better at eating and nothing really changing...I just had no patience that day. I was myself hungry (I should have had some juice at least, but I didn't) and baby girl was sitting the bouncer and I had to eat, then feed her and then make the kids take their nap. I just let him cry it out.

For the first time, he sulked and looked really sad. After he ate, he just sat on the "moda" stool by the CD rack and looked outside and sat very quietly looking really sad. He just looked outside the window and kept listening to music that was playing. I wrote about this in this post. KB normally after lunch is a very happy and extra energetic and immediately hops on his chicco train and goes for a round and then pulls up near baby girl and pulls her hand or plays with her...to see him looking so quiet and sitting in one place for so long was really scary for me. It was all too heart breaking for me.

That night, he asked me to read this book called "When Daddy goes away" - about a father who has to travel on work and comes back home. That's when I realized it was a culmination of two things - my yelling too much at him and daddy not spending any time with him for a few days all of a sudden. I was so nervous about his behavior that day that I called my sister (the pediatrician) and asked her if kids can get that upset or depressed...B got very mad at me for using the word depressed. He said I was being so paranoid and dramatic. We got into an argument over this. This wasn't helping the situation any. The next day B emailed me some links about making meal times pleasant for your child. Somehow those two days became somewhat emotionally charged at home. It is amazing how just the previous day I complained to B that KB is such a fighter and that he is just not afraid of anything I say to him and will only do what he wants...and here I was so worried that he was suddenly not fighting me back instead looking so sad and down. I just could not take it. It was too heart breaking for me. I hugged him and kissed him and that night I just made him have as little as he wanted for his meal. I even let him skip dinner the next day.

Somehow in all this drama, we both seem to have emerged the better. I am now more aware that a)he is now more grown up and he can express emotions more like an adult - not cry loudly but look sad and feel sad. He was missing his father and conveyed it by asking me specifically to read that book a few times. b)if he is not able to eat fast, it is not fair to push him to do so at any point - does not matter if I have been patient for two years, I am not allowed to push him unfairly before he is able to do it on his own willingly.

KB too seems to have gone through some learning experience in this. That he can actually open his mouth just a little wider. He sees his sister eating her meal so fast and I also tell him - just to make him feel good - to tell her "Samatha sapadnum. Big'aa vai thorandhu sapdanum" (You should be good and eat well. You should open your mouth wide and eat). After she finishes, I tell him "See, just like you told her, she opened her mouth big'aa and she ate fast"! Somehow I think this has had an impact on him. It may just be that he is more grown up now. But I have a feeling seeing his sister eat fast along with the emotional show down we had the other day is making him put more of an effort in this regard. It is heart breaking - he is such a good kid really. He is so sensitive to the fact that he has really pushed me to the limit. He now even shows his dad how big he can open his mouth even when he is not eating! And while I give him food, he starts opening his mouth like he used to - small...and then he opens it wider more consciously and says "Aaa"...

Every day now we cheer and celebrate and immediately call his dad and I tell B on the speaker phone "Innik KB evvlo fast'aa saptudhu theriyuma? Big'aa thorandhudhu" etc and B applauds and KB again talks to him and says "KB chamatha Sapturthu inniku"! (KB ate fast today). It is just sheer joy really - this break through. That he is making an effort itself feels like a prize for me! And that is actually showing results - can't tell you how good it feels! KNOCK ON WOOD! If it stays at half an hour per meal, I will be very happy! Let's see - 30 min on good days and 40 min on not so good days is how it is now. If it averages out to 30 min per meal, I will be so happy. All this may seem like a bit too much detail and drama to someone who has not had a difficult/slow eater. But I am sure that anyone who has had to put in a lot of time and effort to feed their child will totally relate to this new found joy of mine! I just feel blessed with such good children, Lavs! :)

13 comments:

Thinking aloud said...

hugs...because i know as a mother with two lil children, meal times do become tiring...cheer up...you can't be supermom and mebbe if you just let him be, he may actually come behind you asking for food. as a mother it will not be easy to see him hungry...but it could be that he is also testing ytour patience..he has a lil sister as competition and everyone does feel a lil threatened when their set world rocks in any way...

mothering is not easy esp when we have such high expectations form ourselves...pls go easy on yourself...i let myself go when my 2nd was born and he has grown to be more outgoing, more accomodative

perhaps indulging in some fav food once everyday may help? like i do mini palak puris/mini idlis..the very fact that they are small excites them and they have no idea how many they eat...

Hugs to you...take care...and hope the mealtimes become less ardous and more fun...

noon said...

Hi TA - thanks...actually it has become less arduous - which is what I was trying to say - just that he is making an effort and is more willing - on his own and is not resisting me needlessly though he wants to eat - all this is making it much better - well for the last few days at least! I am sure kutti chathan will visit every now and then and give me trouble...but on average if it is the way it was this morn, it will be good. And esp because second one is easier overall, it's ok...

BangaloreMom said...

Oh my GOD Noonie!! Don't feel bad at all..I know EXACTLY what you are talking about...I think Kuttan and KB musta been soul brothers or something...I go through the same thing every day....1 hour mealtimes followed sometimes by gagging and puking the whole thing out. Crying, spanking, screaming, cajoling, frightening, bribing..I have tried it all. Each modus operandi seems to work for a few days and then have to find something else again. Hopefully, he will start eating on his own once he starts regular school..which is another year and a half away. Till then, God help me!!

shweta said...

I am really happy to hear you are having peaceful meal times now :) As you said unless we go thorugh it it may not seem like a big deal..Shyam is pretty good eater most of the times..Just need to give him his food in his plate, spoon..he finishes most of it by himself..I just feed him the last few spoons ..knock on wood !!Take care.

noon said...

Hi BM - glad that am not alone in this! :) Things are getting better - the past couple of weeks have really been different - KB doesn't normally puke but if I rush him he will puke that amount out...so I have to sit there patiently...now he makes an effort to take in more and to chew it more...so guess for both of us by the time they get to college our two kuttans will be eating on their own! :)

Shweta! you have to now do a post on this...the mom who doesn't know the pain of meal times at all! :) I often tease my nephew that he should have two lovely kids and they should be such difficult eaters so I can come and look at him with pity and say "tch tch, so sorry, hope they finish the meal in the next hour"...So dear Shweta...you know what I am getting at for your second child! :)) (am saying this in jest, don't worry!).
But seriously - how did you train him to eat on his own? Do you think day care helped?

the mad momma said...

I go through phases... and so does the brat. if he eats fast, i am happy. if he doesnt. i let him go. when he's hungry he comes back and eats something else if not what i offered first.

and i tried to point out that the bean eats everything in sight and really fast, but he doesnt buy that. i asked the pediatrician and she said she doesnt know any kid who starved himself to death. and bad mother that i am.. i use that to make myself feel better and i have just let it rest.

DotMom said...

I am glad it has gotten easier.. that was a neat trick to tell him to tell his lil sister to eat properly :) very nifty! kids can test patience when it comes to food. Chip refuses to eat anything with indian seasonings. sigh.

Preethi said...

hugs to you.. i only know too well how frustrating this can be.. I went through the same thing last year... Nantu was always a poor eater.. and till he turned 3, solid food was a nightmare.. he would put it in his mouth and refuse to chew.. just sit there with a full mouth for a long long time while I yelled and threatened and acted like a maniac :P But school and turning 3 has brought about a really good change.. He now chooses what he wants to eat, and eats a lot faster than he used to... so hang in there noonie.. it will get better!
Don't feel bad about losing your temper.. we are humans too and sometimes we do lose our temper... if I think I m in the wrong, I usually apologize to Nantu and let him know I made a mistake.. if he was being difficult.. he has to sit through a huge lecture when I have calmed down.. I think they are old enough to understand that and will grow up better for all these experiences!! :)

Cantaloupes.Amma (CA) said...

Oh poor you Noon ... you are feeling bad for yelling at your child. Don't fret over it ... we all have our "Not so great days". And not getting support from spouse for few days drains us emotionally ... I have faced this situation twice after Cantaloupe was born when BP was totally engrossed in his work. It felt me totally drained out, to say the least.
But hey, you are making progress with KB. I am sure the day he finishes meal in 10 - 15 mins is not very far. Soon, he will start feeding himself, and all you need to worry is feed baby girl and you can have your juice just in time :)

Tharini said...

Yes I understand your struggles and this breakthrough that has been accomplished by both of you, very well. Its a wonderful feeling of enjoying something that has been well and truly earned.

Kudos to you for seeing clarity in the situation and assessing how he is missing his father and also learning to show his emotions in a more mature way!!!

noon said...

MM - Yeah, I know what you mean. I do that more these days - if he insists he does not want to eat, I let him go. But most often the problem is he will eat, he won't tell me to stop, but he will eat very very slowly. Talks and talk in between. And if I let him eat too little and stop in between, he gets so cranky with hunger later. And I am not able to often them give him something because either I have to feed baby girl or I have taken them both out for a walk and he doesn't really take snacks that easily either. But yeah I am learning to let go a lot more with his meals...

noon said...

Hi dotmom - well Indian seasonings - its funny - some things are just clearly passed on by parents - B hates sweets and loves Indian snacks. Esp likes to eat banana chips soon after dinner. My picky eater here, KB does the same thing. he asks for gatorade and doesn't want apple juice...he can eat (and loves) hot spicy chakli but cannot tolerate any spice in his rice meal! Strange!

Preethi - thanks! :) The line "acted like a maniac" makes me feel better since I do the same! :) Yeah my friend keeps telling me that every thing changed for her when her son turned three!

Tharini - Thanks. It really was an eye opener to me - that he understands emotions at a higher level now...

Sumana said...

Hey noonie, it was tough with my 3 year old daughter too. She does not even lik eto drink her milk. There is no food in this world that she woul dsay i love it and clean the plate. Everything has to be fed, ran around, spoon by spoon. I started to give her small meals in the day often so that i do not feel guilty she has not had stuff and she does not feel she has to eat all of that. So it gets easier even if one has to feed the stuff.