I used to be another one of those people who didn’t have children and judged the parenting styles of those who did. I swore my child would eat what was placed in front of him or nothing at all. I assumed that a child could eat anything if they were hungry enough.
Cameron isn’t too picky and knows what he has to eat to get dessert. For months now, Eli has been content to go without dessert rather than eat what is placed in front of him. For awhile I tried to force him to eat but that was when he went through that refuse-to-swallow-and-drool-until-my-mom-loses-it phase. I’m glad that is over and now I let him eat if he likes and if not, then not. Richard and I were just sure he would go through life [under our roof] without enjoying the pleasure of dessert.
But the other night the home teachers brought some treats Eli could not resist. I put him back at the table and placed his dinner before him. He seemed determined. He took one bite, chewed with a pained expression, and swallowed. The second bite put him over the edge and he started gagging. I quickly realized that he was on the brink of vomiting and I begged him to swallow, which he did. I promptly removed the plate from his eye-sight and gave him an alternate meal.
I caved, call me a wimp or a push-over but that is where I draw the line. Richard and I looked at each other, feeling terrible about making our child eat something that was truly making him feel ill. And it wasn’t for lack of hunger. As soon as I set a bowl of applesauce and some sliced cheese in front of him he double fisted the cheese until it was gone and shoveled in the applesauce by the spoonful.
It looks like I’ll be rethinking yet another parenting strategy I was sure I had figured out.