Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Cry Baby Cry

Jack o' lanterns are apparently scary after all!
I have a confession to make. I enjoy seeing my son cry. Now, before you get all uppity and start accusing me of being a terrible mother, let me qualify that. I don’t like to see him crying because he’s hurt or truly sad. I certainly don’t like to see him cry when he’s having a full-blown tantrum. It’s a very specific type of cry that makes me laugh. And I bet I’m not the only one out there who feels this way. 

It’s the kind of crying that happens when a baby is placed upon the knee of Santa Claus for the first time. Or (for my fellow Greeks out there) when a baby is baptised in the Greek Orthodox Church and they get dunked in the baptismal font by a scary looking bearded priest. 

It’s cute because it’s harmless. The way their little faces crumple up is just adorable and makes me want to smile. Sometimes that kind of crying comes at an unexpected moment and you just can’t help but laugh. 

For us, it happened this week when we carved our Halloween pumpkins into jack o’ lanterns. We finished the job, popped candles into the pumpkins and turned out the lights to see how they would look in the dark on Halloween night. Suddenly, my son freaked out and started crying. I was really taken aback because quite frankly, I didn’t think that jack o’ lanterns actually scared anyone. Apparently they do. 

Is it wrong that I grabbed the camera and snapped a few pictures of him crying in front of the pumpkins? 

Okay, I know it sounds cruel and heartless. Maybe it is. But to be fair, I immediately turned the lights on, gave him a hug and distanced him from the offending pumpkins. I’m not that terrible a parent. 

Maybe it’s just because my son is just such a rough and tough fearless kid who spent the last month watching Halloween themed videos on YouTube. Nothing seems to truly scare this kid – until something does and then it’s just such a surprise, I can’t help but laugh. 

The funny thing is, after looking forward to Halloween for the past month, he has suddenly announced that he doesn’t want to go out trick or treating and that he wants to stay home. I must admit that I’m surprised – isn’t the whole appeal of Halloween to go out in your costume and collect treats? He’s still young, though, and our intention was to visit just a few houses on our block and then come home. But I guess we’ll see how he feels come trick or treating time! As cute and funny as it was to see him cry with the pumpkins, I don’t really feel like forcing a scared child to walk the streets and cry as he goes trick or treating.

I guess maybe I’m not such a bad mom after all.

Thursday, 24 October 2013

The Sales Job

I consider my son to be a good eater. He’s not truly picky except for a few things that he won’t touch with a ten-foot pole, a feeling to which I concede most people are entitled. But the fact remains that he is two and a half years old. So being very particular about certain things, especially food, has become par for the course. 

At daycare, I’m regularly floored when I hear that he ate foods like kafta and couscous salad or an omelette with feta cheese. Really? Seriously? I have come to realize that groupthink and peer pressure goes a long way in reinforcing good behaviour too! If all the kids are eating the omelette, so will my little guy. Thank goodness for this amazing phenomenon which also pushed my son to start napping like a civilized child. 

But at home? Things are a little different. If something on his plate just doesn’t look quite right, he pushes away the plate and proclaims “I don’t like it.” 

This has induced much frustration on our part, which often includes conceding to feeding him kid-friendly staples like chicken nuggets, fish sticks, frozen peas and/or corn and grilled cheese sandwiches. But lately, we decided there had to be a better way. Why shouldn’t we all eat the same, healthy, homemade meals? I know very well that he’ll like what we’re eating…if only he would try the damn thing! 

So we have tapped into our inner marketers and gotten creative. Now, many meals we eat have a very special name, like “Pirate Pie” (chicken pot pie, or shepherd’s pie…or anything that involves some kind of pie) or “Spiderman Souvlaki” or “Dragon-Fighter Soup” (that one is named for recent obsession with dragons). 

The first time I did this, the idea came to me on the drive home from daycare. I began talking about our special dinner and hyping it up all the way home. By the time we got to the dinner table, he was so excited he devoured his Pirate Pie and asked for more. 

Presentation is the other thing that really helps. If food is on any kind of stick, for example, it’s automatically more interesting. If there’s ketchup involved, all the better. Of course, we try to limit the ketchup, but occasionally we have managed to convince him that there’s ketchup in some meal, even if there was none, and he ate it up. Both literally and figuratively. 

I will admit that it’s exhausting giving my kid a sales job every time we sit down to have a meal together. But when pickiness strikes, the only defense is creativity! And melted cheese on top. But mostly creativity.