Friday, September 11, 2009
Turned a Corner
So this is our second born son...Caleb, Caleby or as we lovingly call him sometimes The Sinister Minister. I won't go into all the details as to where the nickname came from, however, you must trust me-- it fits this child to a tee. He is as sinister as they come and he's only two and a half. I don't even want to know what kind of tricks this kid is going to pull when he's older. Our only prayer is to reign him in now before it's too late!! We always talk about how we can adequately shape his will and teach him boundaries and to obey, without breaking his spirit. It's going to be a tough task. He's just got such a lively little personality. In so many ways it's wonderful. He's so fun and playful. He's always doing something. And he's got a fight in him that you just can't train or teach. He's also very passionate, mostly about weapons at this stage of the game, and his passion is always in high gear whether it's good or bad. If he's happy, you'll know it because he'll be loud about it. If he's upset, you'll definitely know. He just lives large. Now we love all of that about him but, at times, his exuberance can be a bit trying.
One area that we have continually hit our heads against the wall with him on has been food. I think a lot of parents struggle in this area especially in our country where we have so much wealth which leads to an abundance of food and choices. I swore I'd never let my kids be picky eaters but, it's so hard to train in this area when they have a bent toward pickiness and a good dose of stubbornness does not help either. Isaac was a bit picky but soon outgrew it as we forced him to try different things. Forcing one bite worked for him and he would obey and just get the food down. Now he eats most things just fine.
In comes second child. Parent tries first tactic with second child that worked with first child. Utter failure. Isn't it always? Parent tries second tactic that he/she heard from a friend. Utter failure. Surprise. Surprise. Parent tries third tactic that he/she read about. Utter failure. Why are we trying? Oh yeah because we care about his soul and he must learn to obey. And on and on it went with this poor child. I really should say poor us because we had to deal with the screaming at dinner. It got to the point that we could get a bite of whatever it was he had to "try" into his mouth but once that bite was in there, he.would.not.chew.it! He'd just scream, drool and scream some more. Pretty much anything he had to try was the main dish at dinner. Nearly every night for awhile he didn't like any of it and sometimes it was even kid friendly stuff like mac n cheese. And vegetables, you can forget about it. No amount of anything, and I mean anything could get him to eat that bite. It'd just sit there collecting dust as the rest of us waited for him to eat it. Then we got smart and just let him sit there for forever, and ever, and he still wouldn't eat it. Sometimes it would take an hour for it to finally break down and dissolve. And then he'd triumphantly get down and go play as if to say, "See, I didn't really eat it! It just dissolved!!"
Now this left us scratching our heads like you wouldn't believe. We NEVER dealt with this much stubborn perseverance with our oldest child. And the logic of it...well there was no logic. Usually when you don't like something, you don't want to keep it in your mouth for an hour. You want to just wolf it down and get it over with. Well, not our little sinister minister. Remember, he's a fighter. In an effort to come alongside of him and show him that we were for him, I'd try to make sure there was something he'd like at dinner. He's pretty good at fruit, bread, and most meats. It's just vegetables and prepared food like casseroles, spaghetti (I know! He finally eats that now) and other dinner stuff he simply didn't like. We'd remind him constantly that once he ate his obligatory bite, he'd get to have something else offered at dinner that he likes, like a roll for instance, with butter, or sweet potato fries or something like that.
Then over time it slowly, slowly, slowly got better. But it was never, EVER good. Not even close. The better is just relative to how it was before--really, really bad. Then this last week, all of the sudden, a light bulb has switched on in his head. All of us have noticed that our little sinister minister has decided on his own terms that it's just not worth fighting about anymore. I'm hoping it's not just a phase but that it sticks around. He's been eating his food, chewing his obligatory bite of vegetable and only taking five minutes or so to get that bite down (I know, pathetic but much better than before) and he's been getting blessed with bread and butter, or cornbread, or whatever else is good like fruit at the end of eating the rest of his dinner. And we've been going over the same thing again that is repeated endlessly in our house...When we obey, we get blessings! Not that we obey to get blessings but a lot of times, blessings are a byproduct of our obedience. For example some blessings could be praise from parents, an actual physical reward (we try not to do that too much) or an extra activity or something when it's applicable. But he really has turned a corner. And believe me, my husband and I are wondering what happened in his little brain that it finally all made sense to him. We're not sure but we'll take it. I think we saw too that sticking it out with him has finally produced our desired results- a child who will cheerfully eat at dinner...when we obey we get blessings. I'm sure we'll have many more run-ins with all of our children in the future. However, for now in this area, we've finally seen the fruit of our labor and there is a bit of peace. Thank God!