Until the terrorist is a one year old with blonde curls and a scrumptious grin.
My son was born hungry, he ate every two or three hours, around the clock, for that first year (he still can’t go more than ninety minutes during the day without food). Other babies had started stretching their feeds and were happy to be distracted for twenty minutes if mommy needed to get home, eat lunch, sort out her toddler, make coffee, breathe. There was also no warning when the screaming for food would come (there still isn’t). He’d be sleeping (sleeping!) or awake and suddenly seem to realise he was hungry and just start screaming and when I say screaming I’m talking silence to a thousand decibels in a nano second. Heaven help you if you waited more than another nano second before you responded (with food of course).
Our reality looked something like this:
We’d be driving along a highway at 75 miles an hour or through an industrial estate or in slow moving traffic through a busy town centre ten minutes from home, it didn’t matter. That scream would start and whoever was driving would start emergency evasive manoeuvres to get the car pulled over within thirty seconds before all hell broke loose. The places we’ve stopped to feed a baby could make an interesting coffee table book.
Still, after I had stopped breastfeeding we’d have a military operation set up for night time. The scream would start and I’d be out of bed before I’d fully gained consciousness. I’d scream at the Husband like a crazed drill sergeant, “Bottle!! Bottle!! Move! Move! Move!” He’d get out of bed (never fast enough) and run for the kitchen. I’d run for the baby’s room before the shouts had fully left my lips, scoop up the screaming baby and do some kind of crazed jig while repeating over and over like someone locked in a padded room, “Nge Nge Nge Nge”. That was our son’s ‘word’ for milk, don’t ask. Husband would run in a few seconds later (ALWAYS longer than I thought it should take to grab a pre-made bottle from the fridge and shove it in the microwave for 20 seconds) and we’d thrust the bottle into my son’s mouth. The screaming would instantly stop and he’d be asleep before we’d even removed the empty bottle from his mouth. It would take him less time to guzzle it that it did for us to get it to him. We’d all go back to sleep, some of us more shaken than others, to repeat it again three hours later (two if he was having a growth spurt).
I still don’t leave the house without a picnic in my handbag in case my, now four year old, son starts screaming, “I’m HUNGRRRRRY” as he falls to the floor in a hangry, emotional mess when five seconds earlier he was happily playing.
I’m sure you can understand how I was well and truly confused when my daughter was born and she slept through the first night in the hospital. I got up a twenty three times to check she was still alive and might have poked her on more than one occasion.
(Side note: When having a baby on the NHS in the UK, give birth to your second born as late as possible and you get to spend the night, because we can all time our baby’s arrival down to the hour.)
That brings me to my current hostage situation. I’m sitting here huddled in the kitchen while the kids eat their lunch. I use the term ‘eat’ loosely because I am referring to an almost two year old and a newly turned four year old. I have just set lunch on the table the same way you’d approach a deaf great aunt, “HEEEEERE’S LUNCH!” *She grins wildly in the hopes her enthusiasm will catch on and retreats slowly out of the room.*
The four year old jumps up from whatever he’s doing and runs over, because despite the fact that he’s eaten three bananas and a pear while lunch was being prepared, he’s hangry.
The almost two year old slowly approaches and eyes her plate suspiciously. She then sits next to her brother excitedly because, it’s her brother! As he wolfs down his lunch she picks and plays and laughs and gets up and runs off. Don’t get me wrong I’ve sat with her, I’ve been firm with her, I’ve refused to let her eat anything else until her plate is finished, I’ve tried it all. But right now I’m in the kitchen. I’m the hostage in this negotiation and this is how I get my almost two year old to eat.
When she was still eating mashed potato by spoon after just one spoonful she’d point blank refuse any more. I knew she loved mashed potato and I knew she was hungry but she just refused. She’d laugh at me and refuse. Until one day when I handed the spoon to her brother (whom she adores more than anyone else in her little world) and told him to feed her. She ate. I gave him another spoonful and she ate. She laughed at me and then opened her mouth wide and ate.
So here I sit hostage in my own kitchen. Every couple minutes I peak around the corner. I have a clear view into the adjoining living room where my son is sitting facing me (I’ve carefully positioned the girl child at the table so that her back is toward the kitchen) and I use hand signals that rival a Navy seal commander on a covert op to send a message to my son to “Pick up another piece of potato and shove it into Baby’s mouth”.
This is my life.
Xo, Mama Kiki
Tags: food inglorious food, getting a child to eat, I'll do anything at this point, refusal to eat, toddler eating