So I just got back from a little errand for a Saturday Night movie from Blockbuster.
I took Big because he took the longest nap on the planet today and we were hoping to do the bait-and-switch with Nine, getting her to bed before him as she was MORE than ready.
Knowing what was in store, I spent at least 3/4 of the drive preparing him for the inevitable onslaught of sugary delectables that would entice, but which would, ultimately be denied.
To be clear: I was not going to buy any candy.
It all started out great. We looked around for movies, ran into a few friends (one of whom hilariously confused me for a different lesbian in one of his ECFE classes --"Didn't you move?" and then analogized with an episode from The Office in which a guy actually marked an Asian woman at a party that he was interested in, in order to not confuse her with the other Asian woman at the party).
We got to the infuriatingly long line, which left too much time to check out all of the glorious sugary goodness that shouted out to us: ME! PICK ME!! ME!
Apparently they shouted out to Big in a louder voice. He started opening a sucker.
Me (panicking slightly): Mr. [Big]. If you open that we will leave immediately. do not open that.
That time it worked. I literally think I said "Thank God" aloud.
Then he moved on to one of those push-up suckers and opened it as quickly as he possibly could and shoved it into his mouth.
I thought to myself F($*K. Now I have to follow through. How long can one damn line be? And is this movie WORTH it?
And then remembered why we never take him anywhere.
I grabbed him and in as composed of a voice and demeanor as I could muster, seriously put the candy on the counter (okay, slammed): That's it. We're buying it and you're going to watch me throw it away.
In my head I added: Out of your COLLEGE FUND, MISTER! And that one FRIGGIN dollar would have added up to at LEAST FIVE in this market by the time you'd have been eighteen -- IF, that is, you even GET there at this rate!
Me, not exactly mortified, but attempting to wait patiently in line as though I don't have a dejected three-foot monster clinging to my knees and yelling BABA! BABA! WHY DID YOU SAY NO, BABA? WHYYYYYYYYY? I DON'T WANT YOU TO SAY NO!!! at the top of his lungs.
Me, incredibly calm, but bracing. Acid beginning to leak out of my stomach lining.
He: But... I'M HUNGRYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY!
The gal at the counter looked on understandingly and said that we didn't need to purchase the candy.
She: Should I just throw it away?
She checked us out and I walked around the side of the counter. The line was no less long as when we began.
Me, kneeling and in a very low, very serious tone (and I need to be clear here, I did NOT have my fingers wrapped tightly around his upper arm as my mom CERTAINLY would have at this point. See? I am growing up!): [Big], I warned you that we weren't going to have any candy from here. We're going home and having some ice cream. But no candy here. You didn't listen to me and I need to throw this away.
Check out this great synopsis and analysis By Dahlia Lithwick of the McCain, Coulter, Ingraham drama that has been replayed over and over on every media outlet possible.
A couple of choice quotes for your perusal:
Ever wonder why some men think women are less than serious political thinkers? It certainly helps explain why so many men continue to believe that when it comes to "political discourse," women are all long, sprawling legs and silky blond hair in a tangle on the dessert cart. It's one thing to air your dirty laundry. But are we really stupid enough to be having a front-page battle over a plus-size thong?
McCain's problem isn't her weight, or her views, or even the fact that she doesn't know a lot. It's that she suddenly holds a rather enormous megaphone without understanding that the person most likely to be smacked on the head with it is herself.
My Sister-in-Law sent us the article "the Junk Food Gene" from the March 2009 issue of Good Housekeeping.
In response to a woman's worry about her eight-year-old daughter's obsession with chocolate, a doctor responds: "'On your way home, stop at the store and buy enough chocolate to fill an entire kitchen cabinet. In your kitchen, designate one cabinet The Chocolate Cabinet and fill it to overflowing with the chocolate you bought. Now tell your daughter that this is hers and hers alone. Tell her that she can eat as much of it as she wants and that you will fill it back up when the cabinet gets even a tiny bit empty. Do not criticize her. Do not watch her with hawk eyes. And make sure that cabinet is brimming with chocolate. Wait three weeks, and then let me know what happens.'"
Fast forward three weeks.
"'When I first told Gracie about the new plan, she didn't believe me. She waited until I left the kitchen, and then she plowed through the contents of her cabinet before I could change my mind. I filled up that cabinet four times that first week (with gritted teeth, I admit). But when Gracie realized I was not going to criticize her and that I was absolutely serious about letting her have as much as she wanted, she ate less and less. By the second week, I only had to buy a little chocolate, and by the third week, none at all. She is more relaxed around food. She is losing weight. I am a chocolate-cabinet convert!'"
The author replies: It's not about the food. Although the chocolate-cabinet idea was radical, I was almost positive that what Gracie wanted wasn't candy. She wanted her mother's (positive) attention. She wanted her mother to trust her. But mostly, she wanted to believe in and trust herself, and the only way she could do that was first learning those skills from her mother. The drama around food and weight gain was the language that Gracie was using to communicate with her mother. The real issue is never about food.
And here's more: Mothers from around the world ask her: "How do I best love my child when it comes to food? What will help her the most?"
And she responds: "'Attend to your own relationship with food first.'"
"And ask yourself this question: If you could fill a cabinet with anything--food, attention, time--what would it be? Chances are, it won't be chocolate. Commit to being lavish with yourself with what you really need. As you do that, you will become a living example of self-care and trust and love. You will be who you want your children to become. Believe me, they'll notice.'"
From the prologue, I can tell you I'm already fearing three-and-a-half, but for now, Big is true to the description:
"Three now enjoys other children, but most of all he enjoys his [Baba]. He loves to do things with her--go for a walk, go to the store, 'help' with housework, and, above all, play. He is happiest when his [Baba] finds it possible to give up other activities and concentrate on him. Almost anything the two of you do together bring him joy. It is bliss to have [Baba] read to him, play games with him, talk to him, just be near him."
Can I freeze time?
Even as I read this, not focusing on him, but stealing time to blog, he is near me playing well enough alone, but asking for my help. In a few minutes he'll be by my side, a small foot digging into my leg, wanting to be touching. If the leg is not enough, he'll roll his whole body into mine and rub his face on my face.
It is like new love and spring and hot baked bread out of the oven all wrapped up together.
At night, when I'm walking out of his room after the bedtime routine, we have a little game that prolongs our time together:
Me: I love you!
He: I love you too!
Me: I love you more!
He: I love you most!
Me: I love you more than most!
And we giggle and have to practically start the process over.
The up-and-downside of our incredibly active and curious little Three is one of the most constant features of his personality: He touches the Butt.
If you aren't familiar with this line, check out this long but incredible clip from Finding Nemo (the relevant portion is in the last 5 seconds of this clip). Nemo swims out over the "drop off" to a boat with his father threatening him with all he can to come back and, finally, to not touch the boat. Nemo defies him by flicking a single finn on the boat.
His friend gasps: HE TOUCHED THE BUTT!!
Big invariably touches the butt.
We'll threaten. We'll time out. We'll ignore.
He still touches the butt.
Ignoring is the worst because he then has to bring it to our attention:
He: I'm touching the BUUUU-UHHH-TTT!
Also true to Your Three Year Old is his fascination with words. "Not only is he secure physically and happy socially and calm emotionally, but language now means a great deal to him. He LOVES new words--new words, big words, different words."
Today he asked what "naked" meant (his sister had on the television and there was a commercial for the Naked Brother's Band).
His response to the definition: But, they're wearing clothes???
Oh, and the boy, above, is turning into a bit of a pain in the arse, at least from her perspective. I wish I had the above moment on video. He was sitting there with her, next to her, singing, allowing her her moment. And then... The last verse:
So I am finally getting back to following up with my original post on our household eating experiment.
This topic seems to hit a nerve with people. Most kids, for example, seem obsessed with sweets and, because we all only care about our kids and want the best of them, I think parents get obsessed about kids' obsessions.
And we don't realize that things change. Kids change. They won't be how they are today, tomorrow, so issues today get compounded.
Anyway, on to our experiment with letting go of control.
To recap: BioMom and I realized, with some gentle nudging from a loving and concerned neighbor, that perhaps, we were part of the problem with what we perceived was an excessive obsession with food on behalf of our esteemed eight (almost nine) year old.
The suggestion? Why not try saying "yes" to everything?
Our response? How long?
The answer? Long enough to make a real habit if it. Say six or seven weeks?
So off we set into the land of the counter-intuitive: to help out with a food obsession, let HER have the control. Let HER make the mistakes. Let HER make decisions about her own body.
In conjunction, BioMom began reading How to get your kids to eat (but not too much)*, recommended to me by a mom from our ECFE class and several people have pointed me toward a recent article about one family's response to their daughter's obsession with chocolate (which I have yet to track down -- if anyone can help me here, I'd really appreciate it).
So on to Day One.
I was the one home that day when Eight came home from school looking for snacks. Can I have a snack? Sure? Have whatever you want.
At this point, I had no idea how much cr*&%)p was in our house, but as you'll see, Eight was HIGHLY in tuned.
Can I have a strawberry soda?
She comes out to the living room where I was working (Big was taking a nap) with a box of vanilla wafers and a strawberry soda.
My immediate reaction was, what kind of freakshow household with kids still has three Crush sodas leftover from New Year's Eve in their fridge? I mean what kind of control freaks are we that they aren't gone?
I was prepared to let her have all three at once, if asked.
I emailed BioMom with an update. We have been processing this constantly, trying to read ahead in the book where necessary for advice about rules (if any).
When Eight was done with a few cookies (she ended up finishing the box in three setting which we realized was a slight amount over the suggested serving size, but said nothing) she just moved on with her day. No big deal.
Day 2: Soda number two of three and more cookies. And after dinner: Can we have some ice cream?
Sure, I think we have some mango sorbet in the freezer.
I don't like that. Can I have some ice cream?
I don't think we have any.
She rushes to the downstairs freezer and pulls out an old quart of ice cream left over from Big's December birthday which I didn't know even existed. We open it and it is completely crystallized, but consumed with glee with the requested mini chocolate chips sprinkled on top.
Day 3: Soda number three of three. That evening: Can we have some ice cream?
I don't think we have any.
Yes -- what about the ice cream from last night?
There isn't any left?
Can I have the mango sorbet?
This became a pattern. She essentially moved down her utility curve on preferred sweets. As we ran out of what was initially preferred, she would request the stuff that was rejected initially.
By the fifth or sixth day, most of the real junk in our house was gone. We weren't replacing, but this was only somewhat purposefully. We had hoped that she would stabilize before we re-introduced sweets.
We worried about what would happen when the girl scout cookies came. Would we just give her the box, or dole out servings?
Once the bulk of the junk was gone, she moved on to ingredients.
What is 'malted milk'?
Oh, that is stuff that you put into shakes to make them malts (we hadn't used it in years but it was in the 'baking section' of our kitchen. Can I try it?
At this point she started realizing that something strange and fantastic was happening in our house.
To friend after school one day after asking for a snack she says: She'll let us have ANYTHING in the house!!
Little did they know that the house had been quickly scoured for the junkiest of junk.
Another day: Can I have some sugar?
That's when we imposed the 'You need to eat actual food. Not ingredients' rule.
At one point she asked for the rest of the mini chocolate chips in the bag described above. At that point I did have a little talk about serving size. (It turns out that a serving of mini chocolate chips is a disappointing number of 24, to both Eight and my's true dismay.)
I'll close for now on my initial report with a promise to follow up on what happened post detox.
*This turns out to be a better book than even its title suggests. It addresses the parent's own issues with eating as well as the kids need for control and how to deal with that. I highly recommend it to all, particularly those concerned with kids that won't eat a thing.