Wednesday, August 31, 2011

We tried holding toddler hostage in his highchair

Almost 10 years ago, we invited Jean-Louis' cousin, her husband, and their toddler over for lunch. We were living in Paris at the time and they were in Vernon in Normandy. Before they came down, I had asked his cousin if her toddler would eat salad rolls. Everyone I know likes salad rolls and it was one of Jean-Louis' favorite. It has shrimp, pork, mint, lettuce, bean sprouts and vermicelli all wrapped inside rice paper. You eat them by dipping them in a chee hou type sauce. It was summer, it was healthy and I thought it would be the perfect thing to make. I asked if our toddler guest would eat this. His cousin said maybe and told me what to leave out so I made a couple of separate ones just for him. When it came time to eating, everyone ate and loved the Vietnamese salad rolls, except the toddler. Now, I haven't been exposed to many toddlers back then. I was still in my 20s after all. Her toddler didn't even try it. He looked at it and said no. His parents tried to convince him to try it and did everything they could to have him eat some. I remember thinking, oh my god. What a picky little eater! Since the meal didn't work for him, we offered to open some crackers if he wanted some. He said yes so Jean-Louis opened a new pack of crackers. Right after it was opened, the toddler said he didn't want any anymore. Goodness! Then came more lecturing from his parents. He basically didn't eat anything at all and I can't remember if he drank anything either. It wasn't until the end of the day closer to dinner time did he feel hungry and wanted to eat something. I was told to make plain pasta and serve it with a bit of olive oil and salt. He ate it all!

Now that I have a toddler of my own, I understand what went on back then. Although, Tristan has never been that picky, he can be picky and when he does, we want to pull out our hair! I mean he ate salad rolls for the first time and liked it. Of course, eating outside of the home may be more challenging. First of all, we're very strict with him about what and how much he eats. If he doesn't eat a balanced meal, it kind of makes us mad. I always try to include foods from every food group when I cook and he has to eat his main meal before anything else. We have very high expectations from him but we always had and he knows it. For the most part, he has benefited well from it and eats all kinds of foods. When I say that Tristan is picky, I mean that he doesn't want to eat what we want him to eat or says no to something we offer him.

Last night, we tried something new. We held him hostage for the first time in his highchair. It lasted around 2 hours. I didn't want to do this so Jean-Louis was put in charge to watch him since it was his idea. How did this come about? I made easy food last night. I made ham and cheese sliders and served it with corn and pepper bake. We presented both of them to Tristan at the same time. After he ate the slider, he picked at his corn. There were yogurt, cheese, and fruit as usual for afterwards but he had to finish his main meal first. It didn't happen. This is maybe the third day in a row he has been picky like this. The same day, he came home from daycare with most of his hummus, half of his pita, and he had only taken a few bites from his corn on a cob. Earlier in the week, he chose to eat only the noodle and fish parts of his stir fry and didn't eat much of the bok choy or mushroom. We know he can eat way better than that so we got mad. He normally loves mushrooms and eats bok choy fine. We tried threatening him with removing his toys and told him we wouldn't read to him at night but he didn't care. He was even helping Jean-Louis remove his toys in the evening!

Every time this happens, I know Jean-Louis likes to blame daycare because they give him snacks and that spoils his appetite for his main meals. It's not really fair to blame them since what happens at daycare is nothing new. Of course, it doesn't help us either :(

We tried holding him hostage but after the trial last night, we're done with it. After tweeting about it, I started to receive many replies from people basically telling me "that's bad" and "don't do it." You know it's a hot topic when everyone on Twitter has something to say about it! It's great though because it probably saved us a few days of stress. Apparently, some of my followers were held hostage when they were children and they now resent their parents and have food issues. The idea of being held hostage never sat well with me anyway. How long would we be able to keep this up? I wasn't convinced it would work at all and it would just suck too much time. I also didn't want to be the one doing it and I felt sorry for Tristan. Were we punishing him for being a toddler again? Another dumb parenting idea.

What now? We're going to try to stay cool and relax a bit. The stress of feeding is what drives us to crazy ideas like holding a toddler hostage in his high chair :) He is only 2.5 years old. He must be going through a phase so we'll just continue doing what we're doing until the phase passes. There is nothing more we can do for now.


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