Wednesday, January 15, 2003

Chef Mommy

Chef Mommy
Beth Myler

If anyone doesn't believe that their toddlers run the show, listen to this. We just went through a terrible GI virus with Gabriel (15 months) over Thanksgiving. He wouldn't eat anything! He had diarrhea and was puking for almost a week. Even though I knew he was nauseous and clearly his body was telling him NOT to eat, I couldn't keep myself from trying to shove food/drink down his throat every half hour or so.

Even though, as a nurse, I knew that dehydration was the main concern and he was nursing as often as I would let him, and taking water too, I was irrationally desperate to get some calories in him, anyway. It seemed to me that he was wasting away before my eyes (ribs and skinny arms that I hadn't noticed before).

He is so verbal now that he repeats like everything that I say. So I would offer an item of food...noodles?? And he would say, "Yeah, nood," and smile like he wanted it. So I would cook the noodles, the whole time gleefully anticipating his eating the food. I put it in front of him and he put out his hand and pushed the food away firmly saying, "No, no mama," as if he changed his mind. This was not the thing he wanted.

Ever persistent, I would offer the next favorite item, "Egg??" and he would again smile and say eagerly, "Y-egggggg!" He even clapped his little hands and jumped up and down excitedly. The perfect scrambled eggs, with milk and a little pepper, would arrive in front of him and he stuck out that little hand and said, "No-no!"

Again, and again.
Me: "Cracker??"
Him: "Crack!!!!!"

But when I produced the item always, "No, no, Mama!!!"

He thoroughly enjoyed playing me for the fool and by the end, I had a highchair tray (and a floor) full of rejected food, a few more gray hairs, and he still had an empty belly and a smile!

When I did get a bite of something in him, I would feel victorious until he usually ended up puking it up anyway. When the virus ran its course and he was no longer nauseous, I guess, he started reaching for food again and all is back to normal. I have made a vow NEVER to ignore his protests again. If he won't eat, it
must be for a valid reason, and probably much to the dismay of Gabriel, I won't be performing my Chef Mommy routine again.

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