Thursday, February 11, 2010

Feeding a toddler is a contact sport

No one told me it would be like this. As soon as they start to feed themselves, the peace, sanity, and relative cleanliness of mealtime disappears. Suddenly it's all about preempting their every move, scooting implements and bowls of liquid out of the way, keeping glasses on the other side of the table, having several wet washcloths ready to mop up spills and wipe hands and faces, and always always keeping one hand at the ready to refasten the clothes pin on the dish towel Oliver wears as a bib (and I'm using "wears" in the figurative sense -- it's more of an on-again, off-again part of his mealtime attire. Bibs were given up long ago as they 1) cover only a small fraction of the toddler body, and 2) are far-too-easily ripped off immediately.) Oliver now wears a large apron tied around the waist, and the aforementioned dish towel, fastened at the back of his neck with a clothespin. I have learned to place the first course before him just as a I fasten this, or else the clothespin and dish towel are on the floor in no time. And yes, we often go through 2 dish towels and several washings of dish cloths throughout this process.

At lunch yesterday I had a very nice spread for Oliver to enjoy. Here it is, clockwise from lower left: chicken broth with garlic and carrots, veal tongue, raw milk cheddar, salmon bites with homemade lacto-fermented coconut oil mayonnaise, homemade lacto-fermented ginger ale, and lacto-fermented dilly beans (saved for the end as they are a favorite). For dessert we had pumpkin custard.

Feeding Oliver went something like this:

Oliver tries a salmon bite and promptly spits it out (sometimes he likes it, sometimes he doesn't). He uses his small spoon to scoop up the mayonnaise and eats it with relish. He wants more, so I give him another serving. Then another. And another. At last he is done, the plate is pushed away vigorously, and he reaches for the broth. Tries some broth, then a carrot, spits it out, pulls the bowl, then pushes it away -- back and forth. I am of course trying to make him stop, and between the two of us tugging, naturally it spills. I swoop in and mop up the mess. Now he is asking for water, but it isn't water he wants, it's ginger ale, just like I have. And no, he doesn't want to drink it out of his little cup, he wants to use a spoon. For some reason I really don't feel like entertaining this for more than 10 seconds, so I take the spoon away and encourage him to drink from the little cup. NO! He starts screaming and gets red in the face. This is the toddler side of Oliver that I am discovering lately and one I REALLY don't like. I promptly turn his chair to face away from the table. He settles a little, and I turn him back around. Next he tries the veal tongue (which he usually likes b/c it is the one meat tender enough for a mostly toothless person to chew) but the bite is too large; he spits it out. I break the piece into tinier shreds. He doesn't want it from my hand, he wants it from a fork. I spear each tiny shredded piece of veal tongue with his toddler fork for each bite that he takes; he eats probably one piece of sliced tongue, which is very good. Suddenly he is reaching for my bowl (I am eating, or rather not eating, my leftover chicken fricassee). I have placed a piece of chewy chicken skin on the side of my bowl, and this is what Oliver wants. He chews on it and sucks the gravy off, then hands it back to me and makes urgent signs for more. He wants more disgusting flabby chicken skin! I fish out another piece for him. Then he tries some chicken meat. Okay, enough of that. He is ready for something else. He has some more mayonnaise, then spies the dilly beans. For him, "eating" dilly beans consists of waving the beans about in the air, biting off pieces, spitting out each barely-chewed piece into my hand, and pretending to gag when a small piece remains on his tongue too long. At least he gets some of the dilly bean juice which is the important part for him at this point (he can't properly chew or digest extremely fibrous vegetables yet).

By the end of the meal he has had:
1) one piece of carrot
2) a tiny bit of broth
3) one slice of veal tongue
4) 4 tsp. of coconut oil mayonnaise
5) chicken fricassee gravy & an iota of chicken (plus whatever he got from the skin)
6) dilly bean juice
7) a very tiny bite of raw milk cheese
8) several sips of homemade ginger ale
9) a few bites of pumpkin custard (the most peaceful part of the meal)

My own meal seems barely enough to replace the calories I expended in feeding Oliver, and I'm a bit exhausted -- but these crazy fast-paced mealtimes are something I will probably look back on fondly, and I'm happy that he is eating such good food. Fortunately there are days when lunch time is peaceful and gratifying, like the day when he discovered how fun it is to eat both fish broth (with shrimp butter) and whole wheat sourdough toast with butter, chicken liver pate, and bone marrow at the same time. That sight truly warmed my nutrient-dense-foods-obsessed little heart!

1 comment:

  1. oliver is so cute. this is a hilarious post.