Friday, May 23, 2014

Operation Bumpus Sits and Eats

So we're having an eating issue around here (what a shock with a two-year-old). Sometime around when the baby was born Bumpus decided he didn't want to sit in his high chair anymore. He would scream and kick and cry when I would try to lift him into it, and if I was successful in forcing him into it he would just sit there and scream and cry, and/or climb out of it. Which is treacherous enough when it can tip over so easily. He would instead pull out a chair and plant himself at the table, so I thought, ok cool, he wants to sit at the table like a big boy. All right. I support that.

But it's turned into a bit of a nightmare, because he won't sit and eat. He gets up and runs all over the house. Lately I've been closing doors to prevent more greasy fingers rubbed on my bed which at least minimizes the damage, but still - ugh! He used to mess around with toys and run around but at least he'd eat - now he doesn't even eat. And we go through this endless frustrating game of me asking over and over if he's done and his just staring at me, so I start to take the food away and he screams bloody murder, so I tell him he doesn't have to scream like that but instead say, "more, please," which he never does, so I bring it back, and he still doesn't eat it, so I ask if he's done, he ignores me, so I take it away, and he screams, and this just goes on and on and on. It would go on all fucking night if I let it. 

A couple of nights ago I was dancing around trying desperately to ram a piece of sandwhich in his mouth as he lay writhing on the floor, kicking the dishwasher savagely with his heels, and it dawned on me, "you know, I bet my mother, in the 60s and 70s, didn't dangle food over my and my sister's faces while we rolled around on the kitchen floor...and you can bet my grandmother sure didn't in the 40s, or her mother in the teens." This never went on in houses before a couple of decades ago. Why am I tolerating this bullshit? Because I'm surrounded by hippies who tell me it's ok? 

I am going to try an experiment. I have no idea if this will be effective. But I do believe he's old enough to understand. If he gets that he's not allowed to get on my bed with his shoes on and now always sticks his foot up for me to take them off first, I think he can grasp the concept that you have to sit and eat and if I ask you if you're done and you don't say anything, you're done, period. I believe this will result in a very hungry, unhappy boy for a few days...but I need to try. It's kind of like the sleep thing. I let that get way out of hand with him until I had to lay down the law - and it was hard, but when I did, magic! I think I've let him get away with this nonsense way too long, and every day is worse than the last. So starting tomorrow morning we sit and eat in a reasonable amount of time, and if he doesn't eat, the food goes away, period. We'll see how it goes!!!


  1. It's definitely a phase (Elena went thru it too) & I whole-heartedly agree that you need to lay down the law. I read somewhere that toddlers push boundaries because they WANT boundaries, and it's up to us to give them some. Good luck

  2. Read Ellyn Satter's website, it's full of great advice around eating. I wholeheartedly agree, make it clear that if he gets up from the table then his meal is over until the next one. Satter's philosophy is that parents put a variety of healthy foods in front of our children at appropriate times and THAT IS IT! The rest is the kid's decision: whether to eat and how much to eat. All struggles with food simply end there! I'll agree with your thought that it's nuts to pin him to the floor and try to put food in his mouth!! Good luck with your experiment.

  3. Good luck! We have similar problems here. I think a lot of it is a struggle for control. They're trying to figure out how much they can guide what they're served, how they eat, how much they get, etc. Maybe the refusal to answer you and then the screaming when you take the food away is his way of trying to reassert power in the situation. I don't know, but I'm going to read Ellyn Satter too!

  4. As the others have said, it's definitely a phase! I believe in picking your battles - and when you do, only pick the ones you can win. You can't make him eat, but you can teach him that when he does eat, it will be at mealtimes. Hope it's going well - I know it's not fun!

  5. I agree with the others! Definitely you set the boundaries and he will learn to abide by them. And that, yes, our ancestors didn't stand around dangling food over our distracted baby ancestors. He's far too smart to starve!