Sunday, March 13, 2011

Winning Dinner

Gunner has always been a picky eater. I gave up a long time ago trying to get him to eat what we eat for dinner. As a baby, if he tried something he didn't like, he would spit it out all over me. I don't like getting spat on, so I gave up. He has been picky ever since.

I envy parents with children who eat. I have had an almost two-year struggle about feeding him. I decided not to make feeding him a fight. He won't eat what we eat, but he needs to eat so that he'll be happier. I have offered him foods that I knew he liked, including quesadillas, crackers and peanut butter, plain macaroni noodles, ramen noodles, and lots of pancakes. It is tiring to make dinner for Spiff and me, and then make something else for Gunner, but I have done it because it was the only way he would eat anything.

Recently, this has all changed. Gunner has recently decided to not even eat the alternative food we offer him. Dinner has become a fight over any food. He is not interested in sitting down to eat, and it is a fight to get him to sit and eat dinner with us, much less ingest anything. So, we decided that if he is not going to eat the alternate food, we are not going to offer them anymore. Like any normal and sane family, he will eat what we eat, or not at all.

I bet you can imagine how this new policy has gone off with him. It's not exactly a hit, to put it mildly.

Yesterday was pie day. I got up in the morning and made an apple pie (thank you, Mhana, for the apple peeler!) and a lemon meringue pie. Gunner helped me make the pies and we all drooled over them all day long. Then we had beef pot pie for dinner last night. Potatoes, carrots, beef, and biscuits on top. We told him that he had to eat one bite of potato, carrot and bread, and then he could get pie. Only one bite of each. We have really high expectations around here.

Gunner wouldn't touch it.

Even for pie.

And the fight that ensued lasted into the night because he was hungry and cranky. He went on numerous time outs, and he lashed out at us by hitting, kicking, spitting, and biting!!! Yes, biting! I still can't believe that one. He was so badly behaved that we sent him to bed without the usual calming routine. I can't speak for Spiff, but I sure felt defeated as he cried himself to sleep saying, "I want read books. I want sing songs!" It was so pathetic, and I felt so bad for sticking to our guns as I listened to him cry.

Let's skip ahead to dinner tonight. We had chili and cornbread muffins, which is a meal that he has actually eaten and enjoyed before. Tonight, he ate the cornbread and a little bit of cheese, but he wouldn't touch the chili. Even when we offered pie. Even when we lowered our expectations to ONE bite. Just one.

A fight ensued, which included several time outs. It went like this:

A two-minute time out on the naughty chair.
A chance to eat a choice of one bite of meat or one kidney bean. He chose not to, so we did...
A two-minute time out.
Another chance.
A two-minute time out.
Another chance.
A two-minute time out.
One last chance.

And guess what?! He ate a kidney bean. He chose the bean and proceeded to take teeny tiny bites of it, alternately with a drink of milk to wash it down. We rewarded him with a slice of lemon pie. I know that it's an unbalanced work/reward effort, but...

I win!

With one kidney bean.

I can't believe that I feel so proud of this accomplishment, but I do. I'm super happy to have won this power struggle tonight. Please wish us luck with dinner tomorrow.


lulu said...

Sounds awful!

Lauren said...

Josh is still a picky eater too, so I feel your pain. Many times he goes to bed without eating. Celebrate those small victories and I'm sure it will get better soon. Just in time for little Hobbes to start going through it! ;)

JoLyn Stevens said...

My son Carson is EXACTLY like Gunner. Carson lives on three different things, and I too, gave up the fight long ago. Occasionally I'll try to make him try something, but he has learned how to make himself throw up when smelling or tasting anything he finds unpleasant... It's unbelievable! You are not alone. I feel your pain! Hang in there!

Mhana said...

He's a biter, just like his auntie! It is an important defense mechanism that will be useful throughout his life. Chris and I go through EXACTLY the same thing every night. I try to get him to eat one bite of chicken and he spits on me. Impossible.

You're welcome for the peeler.

Behrmans said...

I’m not sure if it will help or not but we put 4 skittles (the kids favorite candy) in front of them at the dinner table. We do it for manners and such but if they do not sit down, eat with their silverware, talk with their mouths full and such we take one skittle away without saying anything. They know what they did wrong. It’s been amazing. It might work for you if you change it to eating. Who knows… it’s amazing what works for kids and what doesn’t. Good luck!!!

Matt and Christy said...

I have two picky eaters. We finally got tired of fighting over every meal. Our policy is: this is what we are having for dinner; you can choose whether or not to eat. I try to always have one or two items within the meal that are plain and kid-friendly so they can get at least a few calories. We also use dessert as a bribe. 1 bite of veggies= dessert. We don't eat a lot of desserts because they generally won't eat their veggies. Kids are fun. Good luck with Gunner! Sounds like your patience is paying off!

Mel said...

It's all about the little triumphs. If it weren't for them we wouldn't make it through the fights. I got lucky with Ya-Ya. J-Man was always picky, then Ya-Ya came along and would eat almost anything. And the things she wouldn't eat I would bribe her with green beans. Yes, green beans. I vividly recall bribing her to eat a bite of mac and cheese with a spoonful of green beans. Now J-Man has started eating better watching his little sister. And HP is somewhere in the middle. I just try to have at least one thing he will eat at dinner, then I at least know he will get something in his tummy. I still give him a little of everything, becasue you never know when he might give it a try. '
Good luck with the battle, I know it won't be over ini one day, but you'll hve little triumphs occasionally that will get you through. Good luck!

Pulcheria said...

Wahoo! One battle won. Hang in there - it will get better, even if it is slow!