It happened inexplicably. One minute, he’s just fine, chowing down on some mushed carrots like it’s his job. Which, considering he’s a baby, it technically is his job. (Sleeping and throwing toys on the floor, of course, being his leisure activities). And the next? He’s crying and creating a fuss like I’m forcing him to eat pinecones. Or worse, Arby’s.
Yes, feeding time in our household has become pure chaos. For the past few weeks, the simple act of putting a spoon into a mouth has turned instead into one giant game of mental chess, with both parties creating moves and countermoves to outwit the other. Both with goals that are diametrically opposed to one another. My goal being to make sure more food gets in him than on him. And his goal being, apparently, to starve to death.
It didn’t start out this way. When he was first introduced to baby food, he loved it. He even made adorable “nom-nom” noises and yelled at me when I wasn’t shoveling it in quick enough.
But then…(sigh)…then I made the worst mistake a mother can make.
I told everyone how well he transitioned and how we didn’t have ANY problems feeding him. I even dared to say that oh no, he wasn’t a messy eater at all. Downright clean this baby was. Hardly needed to wipe his face afterward. And adventurous too. Willing to try anything new.
If you are a parent, you know exactly how quickly everything went to hell after that.
To some degree I get it. I do. I mean, I’ve smelled those jars of pureed vegetables. They smell like elementary school humiliation and death. There is no salt or sugar or anything that makes life worth living added to them. And there’s a reason the rest of America only eats sweet potatoes at Thanksgiving. And only then because we’ve mixed them with 52 pounds of marshmallows.
So, yes, I can understand my son’s resistance to eating these jars of carrots and green beans and squash. But baby cannot live by breastmilk and formula alone. Which means at least three times a day, we sit down across from each other, temporary enemies, and commence to play Baby Food Chess.
He starts out with a classic, the Passive Resistance Mouth Clamp Maneuver, where not even the most liquefied of food could squeeze in. Heh. Nice try, kid. I may have been born at night but it wasn’t last night. I counter with the Make Him Giggle Then Shove It In There While His Mouth Is Still Open move.
Seeing that I’ve stepped up my game since last time, he busts out the advanced Sudden Left Turn Strategy, where right as the spoon is about to go into his mouth, he suddenly turns his head, thus making his cheek take the brunt of the garden vegetable medley. Hmm. You’re cleverer than you look, junior. But you forget that with my brains, I also have brawn, and so I counter with the Gentle Yet Firm Head Clamp maneuver, where I hold his head steady with my massive Mommy claw.
Getting frustrated, he uses the Eat It But Spit It All Back Out Onto Mommy move out of sheer desperation. But he forgets he tried that yesterday and today I came prepared. I counter with the Paper Plate Shield held up to my face.
He knows he’s losing. I can see it in his eyes. Soon I will break his spirit, my need to not have him starve to death being stronger than his need to avoid disgusting overcooked carrots. But he’s got one last surprise up his onesie:
The Full-On Fist-Flying Red-Faced Tantrum.
Damn. He’s good. He knows he’s got me backed into a corner. Because sure, with his mouth opened that wide, it’s easy to shovel food in there. But the result of that is that he chokes. Coughs. Sputters. And while technically it’s impossible to choke on pureed food, he puts on a good show. He knows this is my weak spot. Making me feel like I’m potentially doing him harm.
That sly little devil.
The Mommy in me quickly squashes down the Master Strategist in me. I stop feeding him. Checkmate. He’s won this round.
But the joke’s on him.
The menu for dinner?