27/11/2007

The worst part of parenting?

Nope, although the sleep deprivation was bad when Asher was still a baby it wasn't the worst bit for us. The lack of spontaneity in our lives now doesn't bother me at all and although we rarely go out to nice restaurants not having the money or opportunity isn't a real problem for us. Before Asher arrived I thought the gross bits of parenting would be just awful but I now just laugh when I realise I'm wiping snot off a little nose with my own clothing and even today's cheerful game of peek-a-boo around the toilet door whilst stuck on the loo with diarrhoea wasn't that bad. For me, the worst bits of parenting are the relentlessness and the not knowing whether you are doing the right thing.

The relentlessness is realising that this demanding 24x7 job is never going to end. Even when you aren't 'on duty' you are on call in case of emergency and even when your kids are adults you will still worry about them. I'm getting more and more used to this part, but it really hits home occasionally. Especially when people tell me they are going to be off work for a month, holidaying on an island for a week and then driving down the coast for a few weeks, stopping where and when they feel like it (er, have a great honeymoon Niki and Ryan!)

The not knowing is different. At this stage I'm not sure I'm ever going to come to grips with it. Apart from the physical evidence of Asher growing, learning and obviously thriving there are times, many of them, when I'm just so conflicted about what I should be doing. I remember my own parents always seeming to know exactly what was and wasn't allowed (and why), what the right thing to do in any circumstance was and also why (when that reason was 'because I said so' I still believed them). I now realise that a lot of it was bluff - it must have been!

The part of our lives that I'm most unsure about centres around food and eating. Sanjay, not normally one for stern pronouncements, stated that our child would not be a fussy eater. He started saying this well before I got pregnant with Asher and continued to proclaim it until about the time Asher started wanting to make his own choices around food, sometime before he was a year old. It turns out we have somewhat of a fussy eater, even considering the normally capricious nature of toddlers. Now, the unsure-ness plays into all this when I try to work out what I *should* be doing about it. Will he get scurvy if he has absolutely no fruit or vegetables besides sultanas for a month? Is the protein in cheese, yoghurt, Weetbix, butter and bread enough? Will he turn into a spoilt brat if I keep offering him things each dinnertime until he deigns to eat something? Will the impulse to give him a good shake be too strong if he screams like I'm forcing him to eat dishwasher powder when I put some in front of him for dinner that was a favourite yesterday? Should I let him go to bed with no dinner if he doesn't eat the first two or three things I put in front of him? Even if we gave in and decided he could live happily on nothing but Weetbix for breakfast, vegemite sandwiches for lunch and brie for dinner would he survive? Why is something that he can't get enough of one day imperiously rejected with no hope of him even tasting it the next? It's driving me crazy and I don't really know what to do about it.

At the moment he does eat Weetbix with milk and yoghurt for breakfast. He nibbles on vegemite sandwiches, sultanas and sometimes some crackers or a biscuit from about 10am until midday. He might have a cracker when he wakes up from his sleep but then from 3pm until dinnertime I don't let him have anything so he has some chance of being hungry for dinner (between 5pm and 6pm). For dinner, which is the problem meal, I usually offer him leftovers from our meal the night before or something from the freezer that he has liked in the past. Occasionally I am able to get a few kernels of sweetcorn into him and he'll often eat something involving rice (a month ago it was risotto, now that is considered poison and he'll eat dhal and rice). He generally won't eat finger food for dinner (er, unless it's toast) and anything green, such as a speck of parsley, will be either spat out if it's not rejected outright. We can't eat with him (we don't want to and it doesn't fit in with Sanjay getting home from work) and I do everything I can think of to make meals pleasant and stress free. I suspect that he'll continue to be healthy (perhaps he extracts nutrients from the air?) but the real problem is that it's driving me absolutely batshit crazy. I'm going to get my ever-patient and enthusiastic mother to feed Asher when we head up to Crowdy Head for Christmas. Until then I'll just try to rustle up some inner reserves of peace and zen-like calm in the face of the dinner-time tantrums - and getting a gin and tonic for me will have to be just part of getting Asher's meal ready.

3 comments:

muser said...

Despite me saying that food battles were one thing I wouldn't get wrapped up in, I'm finding it's happening anyway. At Asher's age (with Fraser) I was allowing for preference. Fraser has my grazing gene so he's never had big dinners so I make sure he gets plenty of healthy snacks during the day to try and cover requirements.
At nearly 4 years old, we all eat together, Fraser gets what we get and if he doesn't eat it he gets no yogurt for dessert. We battle every night.

matta said...

Keedles;

My theory is that your kids wont starve.

As much as it annoys me that they eat bits and pieces all day long, being a non-snacker, 3 meals a day kind of guy, it seems to be how kids work.

Hang in there, it happens to all of us.

BTW, Holiday on the island was awesome ;)

madame.x said...

All I want to know is are you going to call in on your way north? We stock vegemite, toast and sultanas in abundance.

Commiserations. Arlo's not as picky as Asher but yes, we battle too.