Growing up, I was known to be a picky eater, still am. I remember my mother told me a story about when she went to the doctor with me when I was about The Don’s age; she was telling the doctor that I didn’t eat much of anything. The Doctor responded, “Well, what does she eat?” I guess this trait The Don inherited from me. Any food that feels slimy, he won’t touch it. Any food that feels gritty, he wouldn’t touch it. Anything that he eats and would feel funny in his mouth, he would pull it out of his mouth and put it on the plate. As patience as I was (note the sarcasm) I would tell him, ‘Eat you food.’ I’ve tried, ‘Eat your food or no dessert.’ I tried the, ‘Oh, you don’t have to eat. You will just go hungry then.’ When we sat at the table long after everyone was done their food, I would have The Don throw away any food he didn’t eat. But then he would ask for nuts and dried pieces of mango to satisfy his hunger. At first, we was like, ‘At least he eating something healthy and he’s not going hungry.’ But then every time he wouldn’t eat much, he would ask for something else. I didn’t want him to think that he doesn’t have to eat dinner because mom or dad would give him something else. My husband comes up with a brilliant idea of imitation. “Kids like to imitation at his age, “my husband says, “so I’ll trick him to eat by him looking at me eat and then he’ll see it’s good.”
One day, my husband put this theory to the test. We were eating, Naan bread, a vegetable mix of sweet potatoes, broccoli, spinach, onions, mushrooms, and chopped garlic, with some fake chicken meat. (We’re vegetarians; yes I know it’s not real meat ok, let’s get back to the story). The first thing The Don put in his mouth was the Naan bread. My husband says “No, eat some trees (broccoli). The Don refuses to eat it. “Look at Daddy. Daddy is eating a tree. Pick up the tree. One, two, three, Ah um.” You know what? It worked. I guess my husband knows more than what he let on. So after while at dinner time and sometimes at breakfast, if there’s something The Don wouldn’t eat my husband would play the “game” with him. I even tried it with him and it worked…for a while.
One night while we were eating salad and I’ve finished my dinner and finished feeding Bambino, The Don wouldn’t touch his food. No matter if I did the imitation game, he was so focus on playing imaginary cars, or bus, or trucks with his fork. I would tell him to eat his salad. He would still play around. I would ask him,
“Are you done?”
Then he would repeat, “Are you done?” This is his way of saying he’s done.
The Don was about to throw his food away when I say to him, “No. Give the plate to mama. I’ll save it just in case you get hungry.”
So just before bed, The Don says,
“It’s time for bed. You can have mangos tomorrow.”
“Nope, now it’s time to go to bed.”
“Are you still hungry?”
“Ok, we’ll go downstairs and finish eating your salad from tonight ok?”
We went downstairs and I gave him his leftover salad. My husband came down a few minutes later and started making his salad. On weekdays, my husband eats later but on weekends he’ll eat with the family. The Don asked for pistachio nuts but my husband said if he ate all his salad then he can have some nuts. So my husband did his imitation game with him and he ate his salad.
The past week or so, the game started becoming, “the waiting game” meaning that he waits to eat something he doesn’t like until my husband and I eat it with him. This may work for my husband but not for me. I have to feed Bambino and myself. Now in order from The Don to eat, I have to feed myself with The Don watching so he can see what I’m eating before he eats it and I have to feed Bambino. I don’t know about you, but this seems like extra work to me. Just yesterday we were eating salad, The Don was imitating me and I ran out of tofu in my salad and I couldn’t make him eat the tofu in the salad because I didn’t have anymore. That was the snag in this tactic; if I don’t have any more food that I want The Don to eat, he wouldn’t eat. Now what am I going to do? So I started saving any portion of food he didn’t eat in the fridge and when he asked for something else, I reminded him that he still have some food left over from dinner.
So far, this seems to deter him from asking for anything else when I mention leftovers. The Don couldn’t be that hungry or was he playing possum to see if I would break. But if he ever gets hungry, he will always know that dinner is in the fridge. Then it becomes his choice to eat or not. Now I can feel less guilty.