25 July 2007

You Just Never Know

Thank you all for your great comments on career change and job searches. Lots of good ideas to explore and think about.

Of course, after I was all like, "Oh, yeah, project management sucks," and "I want a complete career change!" what do I do? Go home and apply for a project management job. Heh. It's at a local development house with a good reputation, fifteen minutes away from my house. Yes, it'sin my same industry. But (justify, justify, justify) at least it's an editorial project manager position, which is different from the project management I did before (translation, working for the World's Biggest Prick(tm) ). So, yeah. Who knows if that will lead anywhere, but there you have it. You just never know.

I'm just feeling so at the end of my rope. I'm sick with the kids' cold. The twins are all-out cranky between getting over colds, getting molars (oh, yeah), and going back to daycare this week. I miss John. That should really come first. I miss him for a million reasons, but today I miss him for a supremely practical one. I was feeling tired, sick, and stressed-out as I headed home today. I so wanted to be able to pick the kids and up and then come home to a loving and able-bodied partner who could take over for me and let me rest. Don't get me wrong—I get a ton of help from friends. Tonight happened to be a night that no one was scheduled to come over, though. And a friend over to help is not the same as a spouse.

Work sucks. Being sick—even with a minor cold—sucks. I'm behind at work. I'm behind on stuff around the house. The kids are cranky and I'm losing my patience with them. I changed the words to my usual lullaby tonight:

[regular version]
Rocking, rocking to and fro, to and fro, to and fro.
Rocking, rocking to and fro, oh how I love my twin-si-oes.

[new version]
Rocking, rocking to and fro, to and fro, to and fro.
Rocking, rocking to and fro, mama is so sorry-o.

(Anyone else out there learn that song at Kindermusik?)

I snapped at the babies at dinner, then I just stopped talking to them because, as the old adage goes, if you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all. We all cried.

Questions for you parents out there:

1. I'm starting to let them play around with self-feeding with a spoon. It is clear to me that I must get some bowls that suction onto their high-chair trays, and I must get them stat. Can anyone recommend a brand?

2. How long does this incredibly annoying "throw things on the floor" phase last? I have a feeling the answer is "a really fucking long time," but maybe not? Please? No matter how long it lasts, what can I do about it other than be Zen? Some days, when small people are cranky and I've had a long day at work, it's very hard to be Zen. Are the kids too young for "Hey, you threw your spoon/water cup/bowl on the floor, too bad for you, you don't get it back tonight," or is that kind of cause/effect lost on them? Is it just toddlers exploring their world and I need to be patient about it? I'm hoping to get around some of this by getting the suction bowls, but unless I can tether the spoon and cup, I've still got some throwables to deal with. (Oddly, food throwing doesn't bother me so much and I don't care how much food they get on themselves when they try to eat with a spoon.)

3. I think they are on to my "feed them their least favorite thing first" scheme. For the past week or so, they eat virtually nothing until I offer them Trader Joe's Unburied Treasure (Pirate's Booty knock-off), then they eat like little piglets. Do I stop offering the Unburied Treasure? I've tried offering it first, but the end result is the same: they eat a ton of that and virtually nothing else.

Argh, kid eating habit are boring! Anyone still reading? Help . . .


Angela said...

I tried the suction bowls my sons goal was to pull that thing off and put it back on then pull it back off again. So it was pointless for me, but maybe they will work for you. My son is 22 mo old and still throws things but not so often as he did half a year ago. I tended to give him back what he threw but if he threw it more than two times it was gone. I think they can understand at their age but they are still kids and will do it anyway. Meal time is a lot of work and every kid is different. I never came up with anything that worked to well, I just got pretty good at catching things. Hopefully you will come up with something that works and if not just remember time flies and tomorrow will be here soon.

scarp said...

If they start getting that gleeful look in their eye about the zillionth time you lean over to pick it up, then laugh as they immediately throw it again...then they are old enough to get the cause and effect and will understand (although not always like it) if you stop returning it to them.

Laura said...

I fed my first daughter for way too long and wish I'd let her do things on her own much sooner. We're trying not to make that same mistake with our second daughter. The mess, though... the mess is hard to take. I've heard good things about this spoon, though:
(hope that link shows up, otherwise just search for cutlery on the main site). For $6, you're not going to go too far wrong.

As for item 3, have you tried putting a portion of each food available for that meal on their plate? If they eat the UT first you could try introducing the idea of "all gone." That's what we do now, but our oldest is almost 2.5 years old and lord knows that can be a whole different ballgame.

So sorry to hear you had such a rough time of it today.

uberimma said...

I never tried suction bowls--I just put food straight on the high chair tray. That way, one swipe means that only some of the food goes on the floor.

Food dropping, if not throwing necessarily, lasts a very long time. You'll be sweeping after every meal for a while, unfortunately.

And so far as whether to return that which is on the floor, I'm with scarp. When they drop something and look to see what happens on the floor, that's experimenting with the world. When they drop something and look at your face, they're experimenting with you--and that's when dropped things don't come back.

laughing mommy said...

My kids both hold out if they think something good is coming (food wise). The only think that has worked for me is to get rid of the pirates booty (or whatever they really want) so I can say we are out, and then feed them the good healthy food.

The throwing food off the high chair thing... it lasts for what seems like a long time, but I'd say it is gone by maybe 2 years old???

Shelly Kang said...

Hi, I'm delurking to say I've been reading for a while and sending you positive thoughts. You've got a hard row to hoe, but it seems like you're handling it as best can be expected. (better, really).

What your kids are doing at meal times is SO normal! Our early childhood program teacher suggested that when they start to throw food, you can let them get away with it at the beginning of a meal when you know they're still hungry by simply pretending not to notice. However, you need to be consistent about the rule of "If you throw your food, that means you are all done and I take it away." So, don't notice the throwing if it happens once or twice and is a small amount. When they start picking up the bowl, take it and tell them "I see you're all done, I'll take this bowl for you." My Sophie is 17 months, and we've been doing that a while now, and that's what we did with my almost-four-year-old. They figure it out pretty quick, and they may cry a bit the first time, but they get over it quick. If they're really still hungry, it'll only be a few hours till the next snack. Make sure your day care is doing the same thing.

About pickiness for foods, I'd stop offering them the snacky foods at meal times. They're old enough they should pretty much be eating what you're eating. I just try to make sure there is at least one thing in every meal that each kid will eat, but that it's all healthy stuff. They will eat better in the long run if they see that you are eating all the same stuff as they are and at the same time. Hard, I know, but easier in the long run.

Sorry if I'm too preachy, I know it's not easy. The other thing that the ECFE teacher always told us was that it's the parent's job to put healthy food in front of our kids, it's the kids' job to decide if and how much they're going to eat it. Food is so emotional, and it's hard to stay neutral about it, but if you get upset over it, they will just use it for a power struggle and that can lay the groundwork for eating disorders. Just try not to worry too much!

buggsmommy said...

Throwing stinks...throwing at mealtimes definitely gets better.

I'm a teacher (of little ones) as well as a mom, and I taught/trained/brainwashed (whatever you'd like to call it)...my son that things "Stay ON your tray". Where does your cup go? On your tray. Etc., etc.

Part of me wants to say don't waste your $$ on the suction ones as they figure those out pretty quick too. It took a while to have him leave things, but he got it eventually. It's the good old giving a command thing, but in the positive. Instead of the tempting, (but I still say it), "don't do that..." (I'll admit it, it slips.)

Now I can say in the car when he cup goes sailing by my face, "Oh well buddy, you threw that you have to wait!" He totally gets that now!

He's almost 2 and my words of choice now are, "IF you (insert really annoying habit here) I will have to put you in timeout..." He's only ever made it to timeout about 5 times in his life (as I'm still trying to decide what I think of timeout as a Mom..) so this trick is working, but I like to have him think he's making the decisions around here. Ha! Who am I kidding, he pretty much is!

Sorry so long! Hope it gets better.


Anonymous said...

We rarely used bowls, we put the food right onto the tray. The best suction bowls I found were the generic target brand - Circo, I think. Toddlers love to drop spoons. My advice is to buy lots of cheap plastic baby spoons and give them a new one each time they throw it - makes the "game" less fun. Do your sippy cups have handles? If so tie a string on the handle of the cup and attach it to the chair. They'll have just as much fun pulling it up and they did throwing it down.

Cari said...

I'm delurking to say I gain a lot from reading your blog and have been sending you and yours positive thoughts. I'm sorry you had a really just lousy day.

I got a Target suction bowl for my eldest and it seemed to be helpful for her in learning to use a spoon because she didn't just end up pushing the bowl around. My 14 month old just gets the food on her tray most of the time because she thinks bowls are fun to toss on the floor.

When she decides to play "fetch" I will pick it up without comment twice. The third time I tell her it's the last time. If it goes down after that it's done for that meal. It seems to be working. But, they are all different.

I do the "just don't offer anything other than healthy" because my little one will look for what she likes best at the end of the meal. I offer her her favorite healthy item (blueberries) at different times in her meals.

Both my kids have gone on eating streaks too. Where for a while all they want are a few things. They are goofy that way.

I hope tomorrow is a much better day for you and that all of you will be feeling better.

Anonymous said...

I admire your tenacity!

You might try using a mat under their high chairs or whatever type of chair you are using - that way most of the mess will go on that and it might be easier on you!


Anonymous said...

Delurking to say ...

I found your blog through Julia's blog which I found while idly paging through a Redbook while waiting at an appointment.

Your story has touched me profoundly, for a variety of reasons, and I pray for you every night.


Rachel said...

Alas, the throwing-food-on-the-floor lasts a long time. We put a plastic floorboard mat under the high chair to make cleanup easier.

I would definitely take the food away the minute they start throwing it. Don't expect it to work immediately, but eventually they will get the message.

Alice said...


I simply put a little bit of food directly on the tray at a time. When they finished, I put more on the tray. If they threw it, I would consistently tell them, "No, No throwing food is bad" and I would not react too much beyond admonishing. They are people and are fishing for a reaction. If you don't react, it will stop. It is important to talk to them and tell them in simple language when they do something wrong. Yes...they are learning language right now...but one day they just start integrating everything and I think babies understand a lot more than we give them credit for!


Jenn said...

My twins had suction plates of in 0.2 seconds. I gave up. Now I'll sometimes hold a cup of applesauce or something and let them practice with a spoon.

Mine throw food all the time. I tell them to keep the food either on the tray, in their hands, or in their mouths. If they start dropping it again, they get a food time out where I take the tray away for 1 minute or until they calm down. It hasn't stopped it, but it's helped some. They will still drop or swipe food off if they are done eating and I leave it there.

Mine were holding out for good stuff to, so I just started puttng everything on their tray at once and letting them eat what they wanted off it. If I think they've been getting too much fruit or something lately, I just put less of it on the tray for that meal.

Lori said...

I also tried the suction bowls with little luck, since my daughter managed to rip that thing off with little/no effort.

The throwing thing lasted forever around here (coinciding with the food-in-the-hair thing), and has been followed by the mush-the-food thing. My own experience was that it was just too early to try any kind of cause/effect thing with her; she's 2 now (2 and 2 months), and only just starting to figure out that mommy means it when she says "if...then..." (although that apparently constitutes a challenge in her small world).

Those long days can feel like forever - I hope everyone is feeling better soon. :)

Elizabeth said...

I didn't use the suction cup bowls so I can't help you with that advise but The Terrorist is almost 2.5 and I've just started 'you pitch it, you lose it' practice and I probably should have started earlier LOL, she pitches a fit but I just ignore it. As for eating, they'll do what they do and you can't force them to eat. Give them a little of everything and start to introduce the "I've fed you, you didn't eat it, now your hungry, tough it out" game :) I'm a sucker for this but I try LOL one good mournful look and a pouty I'm hungry and I'm right back in the kitchen but it's good in theory!

Chickenpig said...

I got suction bowl/fork/spoon sets from "One Step Ahead". They are able to un stick the bowls at the worst moments, like when they are full of spaghetti, but the spoon and fork stay stuck on and they are work very well. What I need, though, is a cup on a rope. I have really had it with the cup chucking! We have a three times you're out rule around here, so they get two free pick ups per item. At 18 months they are now starting to think about throwing the item, for a second,before chucking it, but it is mostly so we aren't picking up bowls, cups, and utensils all meal long.

As long as you're feeding them healthy stuff, and yes Pirate Booty qualifies, it all equals out in the end. Toddlers don't need a lot of food, so between 3 meals and snacks (or bottle/and or breast), they will get the nutrition they need. As long as you aren't putting junk food in front of them, they'll be fine. My twins love fruit, yogurt, cereal, booty, graham crackers, cheese, and veggies...just not at every meal. There have been plenty of times my kids have eaten nothing but Booty and fruit for dinner, but they ate some chicken and green beans at lunch. It all works out in the end!

Christine said...

Hi Snick -- awesome advice here. I don't have anything of my own to add, as I don't have kids (yet ;), but I hope this stuff works for you. I am definitely soaking it all in!

Anonymous said...

We too had no success with suction bowls and just put food directly on the tray.

I would second all the parents who said they usually give one warning for things intentionally thrown on the floor, then the next time, you take the item away and say "we don't throw our spoon." You will be surprised at how quickly your toddlers will get this. It is NEVER too early to start teaching about good table manners!

Finally, our food on the floor problem was easily solved by letting the two hungry dogs in after every meal, and letting them lick up the scraps from the floor and off the tray (YES, I did then actually wash the tray!). May sound gross, but what a timesaver!

Good luck, Snickollet - you have a lot of people out here rooting for you!

Jan said...

They are totally old enough to understand cause & effect. And possibly even old enough to understand your words when you say, "once you start throwing food, that's how Mommy knows that dinner is over" cheerfully as you clean up.

At that age I mostly tried to only put foods on the tray that I would be OK with them filling up on (or in amounts I was OK with them eating) because I never had any luck at all with changing around the order.

Sorry you're missing your sweet husband. It must be hard. I can't quite imagine.

halfmama said...

Wow, lots of advice here... so I'll throw my two cents in too. :)

Like others, we just used the highchair trays. One less thing to clean up and we had to clean the trays anyway. If we gave them bowls (no suction cups) we used them for things that they liked (like someone else said, applesauce) so if they dumped it, that was it for applesauce. They learned quickly not to mess with the bowls.

I have also learned that if they don't finish their dinner, they won't wither away. So, if they don't eat what you put out, that's it!

As for throwing food on the floor: when they did that, I didn't pick it up for them unless it was an accident. Our twins seemed to egg each other on; one throwing food on the floor, the other laughing hysterically, and then going back and forth with that game... it didn't seem to last that long for us (or maybe I'm having memory loss). However, once it was on the floor, that was it for their meal!

I feel for you... It is a frustrating phase and I would be on my hands and knees cleaning up and crying A LOT. You are not getting relief so I can't imagine the stress you are under right now. I really hope that they grow out of this phase soon. But, I promise they will grow out of it eventually. Light at the end of the tunnel and all that crap. :)

Anonymous said...

Ikea has a cute green bowl with big frog eyes that suctions. It also comes with matching spoon/cup/bib, and it's cheap enough that even if the babes figure it out in a bit, you've gotten your money's worth.

thrice said...

I'm on the put the food directly on the tray camp. I also use foods that aren't so bad if they get thrown.

I like to use frozen vegetables, corn niblets, peas, cubed carrots. I usually place the frozen vegetables in a bowl, cover with boiling water and let them sit for a bit. That way the veggies cook to al dente, but aren't too hot to serve.

BTW, I'm in awe of your parenting abilities.

OTR sister said...

One thing we found helpful is that we taught our daughter to put the food she didn't want in one of the tray "compartments". It seems to satisfy her desire to remove unwanted food without requiring me to pick it up off the floor.

Of course I don't remember exactly HOW we taught her that.

Rev Dr Mom said...

At that stage, I just put food on the tray sans dishes. Made my mother crazy when she saw it...but they did learn to eat off plates eventually :)

bethany actually said...

I second (fifth? sixth?) the put-food-directly-on-tray advice. And I second whomever said she just gives her kids a little food at a time. We did that with our daughter, just a few bites at a time, and much less stuff ended up on the floor. And we'd give her a couple bites of each thing all at the same time (i.e., broccoli, pasta, cheese) and wait till she was done with all of it before giving her more, so she wouldn't just eat all the cheese and ignore everything else.

You're doing a great job, Snick, and you're in my thoughts and prayers.