I don’t know if I’ve whined about it lately, but Riley’s eating habits have been crazymakingly sparse. He won’t try this, he won’t eat that, he’s pickypickypicky and seems to survive for days on end by nibbling on cheese goldfish and sipping juice.

We’ve had countless fights, sitting at the table arguing about why he won’t eat more of his goddamned sandwich or at least TRY a bite of [something I made just for his ungrateful ass], and I kept telling myself to stop caring, to stop butting heads, that he wasn’t going to starve and if he did, well, it would be HIS OWN STUPID FAULT.

It really has been a challenge, though, even if I try and Let It Go and Zen Out About the Whole Food Thing, but I have stumbled onto something that is actually working, and I am sharing it with you in case you have an irritatingly picky eater of your own: I don’t have him sit at a table to eat. I put his food somewhere he can access it, and let it be, and holy wow I can’t believe how much more he’s eating. Instead of bitching about how he wants to get DOWWWWN, leaving 3/4 of his meal to rot, he just grazes and goes, grazes and goes. Tonight he ate a corndog, half a turkey sandwich, a bunch of grapes, and some cheese — all over the course of about an hour as he ran inside from the backyard for a bite, then took off again.

SHRUG. I don’t know, man, I’m living in the Whatever Works camp. Maybe someday he’ll eat at the table again like a civilized human, but for now, dine-and-dash seems good enough to me.

toddlerfood08.jpg

:::

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I’ve been wondering if it’s just my imagination that Dylan seems so much more grinny than Riley did, and I went back and looked at baby photos taken years ago — nope, it’s definitely true that Riley was mostly suspicious, while Dylan is mostly, well, entertained. God, he’s a happy kid right now, and since my older boy is so often treating me like pond scum, it’s an awfully nice thing. I can almost see how people keep having more children, except I’m reminded of that Ogden Nash poem:

The trouble with a kitten is
THAT
Eventually it becomes a
CAT.

:::
2761936358_185955c45b.jpg

See? Happy-go-lucky baby, all the time. I keep waiting for the other shoe to drop. ON MY FACE.

:::

One of the really nice and maybe-amazing things about the kids’ daycare is that there’s not much turnover in the folks working there. The lady who rocks, feeds, and plays with Dylan on the days he goes in is the very same woman who rocked, fed, and played with Riley when he was a baby. We sort of love her, as you might guess.

There are some teachers I don’t know as well as others, and I can’t put a face to the name behind the lovely woman who sent home these hand-made cards recently:

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They read: I will miss you. I love you. And a psalm, an ode to children, written in Spanish and then translated.

I really, really wish more of our money went directly into these people’s pockets, instead of the corporation that runs the center. These teachers make all the difference. There’s a reason Riley happily yells “SCHOOOOOOL!” as we drive up, and Dylan goes wriggling with joy into the arms of the folks who work there, and it has everything to do with the amazing people that surely are getting a crap paycheck, despite the astronomical monthly fees.

:::

I don’t know if you saw Dooce’s recent high praise for the Furminator, but I pretty much clicked over to Amazon as soon as I read her entry, because DEAR GOD THE FUR. SAVE ME FROM THE FUR. It arrived today and I took it for a test brush on Cat, and holy shitballs, you guys:

furm08.jpg

That was after brushing her for maybe five seconds, after which she gave off sparks and seemed about a thousand times glossier than before. I can’t wait to try this thing out on Dog, who is to blame for the forty inches of pet-detritus on my floors at all times.

:::

Speaking of Amazon, have I ever gotten some mileage out of this box lately. Screw Toys R Us, all you really need to make a kid happy is a cardboard box. And apparently a length of severed sprinkler tubing.

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:::

Lastly, the boys.

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These guys. Jesus, these guys kill me.

:::

PS: I put together this video recently for the good people at 3-A-Day, it was a fun project and you should take a look — if only to mock your favorite bloggers for waxing poetic about cheese.

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Eileen
Eileen
14 years ago

Dylan’s ruddy cheeks and reddish hair are just Ah-mazing. He looks like an aristocratic storybook prince. Dress him in an ascot, please?

justmouse/chaosmomm
justmouse/chaosmomm
14 years ago

i agree about daycare…my boy loved the ladies that took care of him.

re: furminator. i dunno…i have looked at those in the store and i just don’t see how those tiny teeth could make it thru my dog’s coat to the fleece underneath, and also, the size i’d need for my dog is about $65. WAY too much for me to spend on a brush.

you think Riley is loving the cardboard box now…try giving him some markers and/or stickers!!! my son went nuts for that. cheapest car/boat/spaceship/clubhouse i ever bought!

Jmomma
Jmomma
14 years ago

It doesn’t take long to figure out the three things you can’t make your child do. 1.) Eat
2.) Sleep
3.) Use a potty
It also doesn’t take long to do what works best for you & your fam. Not what “they” say.

Rowen
Rowen
14 years ago

When I brought my cat home from the SPCA, I took the ferminator to him right after I bathed him, and I swear to god, he lost 20 pounds and I was left with almost 2 cat sized piles of fur! It’s a freaking awesome invention, plus it limits the strain put on my vacume :)

Anyabeth
14 years ago

Oh I have one of those happy all the time babies (to the point that when she is unhappy we are sort of befuddled and impatient because we are not used to it at all) and despite my lifetime stance of ONE CHILD ONLY I find my brain drifting towards another. Because I mean she is so happy! All the time!

Which means another child would be a screamy can of colic.

Kelly
14 years ago

Welcome to my shitastic world of picky eaters. And it’s not just my son, it’s me… which is so sad. So when I call my mom and bitch about my child that will NOT EAT ANYTHING besides little fruit snacks and cookies… all I hear is “yeah, I know… payback’s a bitch.”

Your boys are definitely adorable though ;) Ah the strawberry hair on that one… I can’t wait to see if this little guy cooking will have my red hair ;)

Pete
Pete
14 years ago

My oldest son’s favorite toy growing up was the big box my vertical air compressor came in. He kept it for several year playing pretend.

Lesley
Lesley
14 years ago

Glad you’re going with whatever works in the and saving yourself that headache. One day Riley will eat at the table; until then who frickin’ cares. At three the dining table has about as much conceptual meaning as measured time. It really isn’t important as long as he eats something and he will eat when he’s hungry so don’t worry. (Just wait until he’s 13 and hanging off the open fridge door for hours on end looking inside and debating what to eat…that will drive you completely nuts.)

I totally agree re the day care workers being worth their weight in gold. In Canada you need an Early Childhood Education certificate to be employable professionally and that’s not a quack education and yet so many of them earn peanuts (because gov’t doesn’t value child care).

Re Riley’s orneriness: I’ve mentioned this book before I think but here it is again. Virginia Axline’s “Dibs in Search of Self”. Although it’s written for therapists working with troubled (really angry) kids, the communication techniques are awesome and extremely easy to learn and apply. They really helped me through a difficult period with a four year old…and also opened up a whole new world of communication. Just thought I’d pass it along in case it might help you through your times with R (and eventually the big smiley D).

justmouse/chaosmomm
justmouse/chaosmomm
14 years ago

Um…ya..she kinda is a yeti, although they TELL me she’s a malamute: http://www.fotolog.com/justmouse/20033598 . I literally get BAGS of hair of her http://www.fotolog.com/justmouse/10154993 . I’m planning on using the hair to knit a smaller, less stinky dog.

(i appologize in advance if the links don’t work…i’m html-challenged).

sooboo
14 years ago

I too love the furminator and I actually share it with another pet owner. We split the price cause it is expensive. Also, I was a picky eater and being stuck at the table while my plate was being scrutinized by my mom was pure torture for both of us. Free range child sounds like a great plan.

Liz
Liz
14 years ago

Dylan is totally scrumptious. Such a happy little guy.

Re the furminator: Every time I furminate the cats I get off so much fur I could knit a third cat. It’s the best.

monkey mcwearingchaps
14 years ago

Other than the red meat and organ meats ban I’m a dedicated omnivore (I hate the word foodie). And as a baby/toddler I was as bad as Riley. To the point where my dad would come home from work at lunch (umm, I was more like Riley than I want to admit here!) because he was the only one I really liked picking me up. So he would spend his entire lunch hour taking me around our tropical garden while my mother followed behind us. And whenever I opened my mouth to giggle or talk to him, she’d stuff it full of food.

Keep in mind this was late 70s India where parents basically hand feed their children till they’re about 3 to 4 years old but everyone’s potty trained by about the age of 1.5 (this was in the olden days, before the economy opened-so there were no diapers). Though my relatives still delight in telling me that for a culture that spoils infants shamelessly, I was EXTRA SPOILED.

I just wanted to give you hope that maybe one day Riley will give up his toddlerexia of his own accord because I sure did. Which is why I now need a trainer.

Sonia
14 years ago

Riley’s diet is well rounded compared to my son’s right now. Seriously, feel better. ;-) Good for you for knowing when to pick your battles! Who cares where they eat as long as they’re eating!! I fed my kid a peanut butter and marshmallow fluff sandwich for dinner tonight. Because he’d eat it.

I did read Dooce’s recommendation on the Furminator and wanted to write in an “Amen Sista!”. I bought the $50 version for my Newfoundland/Lab mix that people often mistake for a bear. It works like a hot damn! I brushed her in the back yard, and it now looks like a crime scene what with the dog hair tumbleweeds. But the dog, she is SHINY, several pounds lighter, and not on the verge of heat exhaustion anymore. LOVE. LOOOOVE the Furminator. (I don’t work for them, nor am I paid to shout from the rooftops my love for it.)
Justmouse-it’ll work on your dog! I didn’t believe the hype until I tried it. My dog has very thick wavy fur, with the most intense undercoat, and it just peels the hair out.

Brenda
14 years ago

Hey Linda, my boy’s a picky eater too, except that we’re now doing the exact opposite – we now make him sit in a high chair, otherwise he’d be running all over the place with us chasing him around the house to take a tiny bite please God just a tiny little bite 5 more bites please then you will have your M&M’s. We let him choose the colour of his high chair (Antilop from IKEA) and hope it’ll work for more than the two days it has worked already. Gah!

My second kid is lot more cheery than my first and easier to handle (so far). She’s four months old now. Maybe it’s the first-born syndrome thing or maybe it could be that we’re much more relaxed about the second one. Babies pick up on our moods very well.

As an aside, I’ve been reading your blog for a long time. We were born on exactly the same day, same year, have two kids of about the same age gap (the boy’s 36 months old, the girl’s 4 months old). And our husbands both work for the same corporationh, except that mine works in the Singapore office. Heh.

Love your writing and your blog.

Brenda
14 years ago

EDIT: the boy’s 33 months old, the girl’s 4 months old.

(Now, why am I so particular and hair-splitty about getting their ages right? :)

Kelley O
Kelley O
14 years ago

We also LOVE the furminator, use it on 2 cats and a black lab and it gets out ACRES of fur from all of them. When we’re done furminating the dog (outside) we have dog tumbleweeds all over the yard. We do that for the birds, you know, to help them make their nests comfy. Not because it’s a pain to pick them up, no, not at all. We’re only thinking of the birds.

trackback

[…] Dooce and Sundry both wrote about their children’s eating habits this week. Since I’m nothing but an uncreative lemming, I thought I should touch on the same topic in our home. […]

Stephanie
14 years ago

My little brother ate only fruit for almost a year. Little bastard.

In regards to the furminator, I bought the generic furbuster and have been using it on our fur producing Golden Retreiver. I tried using it on the cat and it worked, but the blade was a bit long and he kept turning around and smacking me with her paws. God, that is why I love cats. You know she was saying in her head – bitch, get off of me.

justmouse/chaosmomm
justmouse/chaosmomm
14 years ago

sonia: thanks for the recommendation. not that i don’t believe everyone else about the furminator…it’s just everyone i’ve talked to who has used it has relatively short haired dogs that don’t have that crazy wooly undercoat. now…if i could only get my dog NOT to act like a demented wolverine on crack every time i try to brush her…i’d be golden!

ashley
14 years ago

I just posted about my 3 year old’s fantasticly amazing eating habits (not) last Friday. Seems to be a common thread lately. It’s a royal pain in the ass. We have come to dread meal time. Can they survive on just air? Because that is pretty much all mine eats without complaining. Except for candy of course.

All Adither
14 years ago

I agree about doing whatever works. My husband gets really BENT about the kids sitting at the table and having MANNERS, etc. Someday they will, but for now, let ’em do whatever. It’s summer.

beej
14 years ago

Oh the Furminator! I’ve been using it on the Labby one for about a year now. There are piles (PILES!) of Labby fur in the woods surrounding my house from all the brushing. It’s way better than anything I’ve used. The beagly one doesn’t really like it as much, but the labby one will stand there, eyes switch to “vacant stare” his mouth slightly opens as he feels the comb take his hair. Then at the end he lets out a quick shake and he’s on his way again.

I am amazed the Labby one isn’t bald by now. The hair just falls off of him by the handful.

moo
moo
14 years ago

Some kids are just too busy to want to sit still for long and eat. Lots of toddlers are grazers … I’m glad you found something that works for you. (also: you should try giving him food while in the car. I bet you a million dollars he eats like a champ in the car)

megan
megan
14 years ago

oh how i love our Furminator!!! i admit, i thought it was going to be a piece of junk when we were presented it as a gift from my man’s mom because she tends to buy us a lot of crap. and it really doesn’t look like all that much, how could it possibly work? but i tell you, it is amazing. my beagle (who is not supposed to shed according to books and to which i say HA) loves it too, she gets all excited when we brush her with it. we are able to get enough hair out of her to build another beagle. how is that possible??

its such an awesome tool that when we thought we lost it we were seriously distraught. which sounds ridiculous, and probably is, but if you own one then you understand.

babelbabe
14 years ago

whatever you do, DON’T beg him to eat. It will NEVER work and you put the power firmly in his hands then. (Ask me how I know…sigh)

as for daycare, we salved our consciences in this regard by giving probably inappropriately large/lavish birthday/Christmas gifts/”bonuses”

not the same as a large paycheck but still…

Kristin
Kristin
14 years ago

My Golden Retriever actually does a little happy prance when he sees the Furminator come out. The first time I used it, I swear to god he was a different COLOR when I was finished. The absolutely best money I’ve ever spent on a pet. The piles of fur that come out of him are just astounding.

whensheworeponytails
14 years ago

Dylan is adorable and his little smile is as sweet as can be. But don’t let him fool you. I had a similar experience. My first was a little wary of people. Friendly enough but not all that trusting. Second came along and didn’t know a stranger and smiled, cooed, laughed, slept 12 hours a night… She tricked me!!! Third? Screams at me like a wee little dictator and when she smiles it’s usually because I’ve been reduced to tears from the need for rest.

And now I want corn dogs. NOM!

stephanie parnell
14 years ago

So I showed my husband some photos of the boys (because they kill me too!) and later that evening he asked me how long it takes to get birth control out of my system once I’ve stopped taking it…lol.

lucidkim
lucidkim
14 years ago

Feeding my oldest when she was little drove me crazy – but that’s how we developed bad eating habits because I eventually fed her whatever she would eat and didn’t worry about if it was healthy or not. Reversing that trend has not been easy.

I agree about the daycare workers. I used to share part of any bonus money I got from work with a couple of the daycare ladies who were always there for my girls. Nothing is more important to me than my daughters and the ones who take care of them deserve a pot of gold. Knowing they made so little when they took care of my precious girls made me feel like doing what I could to help them.

Jolie
14 years ago

I was a terrible, terrible eater as a child , up until I was like, oh, 11 or so. And even then I hated all vegetables and only ate fruit when that was all I had as an option. My parents were pretty into health food and would try EVERYTHING to get me to eat well. They would make me sit at the table until I finished my green beans. And I would sit there, until well past everyone else was done, until it was time for bed and they had to let me go or else I would have to sleep at the table. Talk about stubborn. Eventually, they just gave up.

And, fancy this, now at 21 I eat about everything there is to eat. I like vegetables, I like fruit, I am very preoccupied with healthy food and I never eat french fries or pop or hot dogs or anything else that was my favorite and only source of sustenance. I think my taste buds changed. Not that you shouldn’t stop trying to make your son eat something and eat something good, but just to encourage you. He will probably get better.

Sara
Sara
14 years ago

Ah, thanks for sharing your secret on how to feed a small boy! My kid is following the same diet as Riley. That is, goldfish crackers and juice. Apparently you don’t really need protein to survive. The eat-n-run thing sounds like it just might work, because half the problem is my son skwaking “I’m done! Get me DOOOOWN!” 5 minutes after he’s been at the damn table. And again, the thing I made JUST FOR HIM remains, untouched. CAN YOU SENSE MY FRUSTRATION OH MY GAWD. Ahem.

Sara
14 years ago

You know, my son (who is three) has never been a picky eater, and I’ve always wondered how I dodged that bullet. When you posted this, there was an actual lightbulb over my head: “Oh! He eats because we’re lazy parents who have never really made him sit at the table to do so.” Heh.

Whatever works, seriously.

Kat
Kat
14 years ago

When I read about your difficulty getting Riley to eat it reminded me of my problems with EB and I was going to leave a comment about what my doctor said, which was to let him graze. As you can see it works. And I’m glad to say that they do eventually sit down to eat. We let EB graze while Mom and Dad sat together, and soon enough he wanted to sit with us.
My doctor said it was about control, kids don’t have a lot of it, so when they get a bit they like to use it. But it’s a temporary thing because soon they realize there are other things they can control as well.

Dylan is a very happy baby, it’s funny how right from the start they have their own little personalities.

My kids still love boxes, and they are 14 and 12. The stickers, markers (supervised of course) are the best bet for making Riley ecstatic. I used to keep a huge box of different stickers that I stocked up on at the dollar store.

Jen
Jen
14 years ago

Oh the furminator, it’s the best pet item I’ve ever owned. We’ve started to give them out as (expensive) gifts because I think people were tired of people hearing us go on about it.

bessie.viola
bessie.viola
14 years ago

Your boys are just beautiful. Love them to bitty pieces.

I feel the same way about Maddie’s “daycare” – she stays with my mom during the mornings and it makes me so happy to see her wiggling with glee when she sees her.

It makes this whole working gig easier, you know?

Jenna
14 years ago

Baby boys, cat fur balls!! Love your blog.

Jenna
http://newlyweds.wordpress.com/

chellebird
chellebird
14 years ago

HOW do you people get your cats to let you brush them? Kitty Xanax? Knock ’em over the head with the handle? I can’t get more than about thirty seconds of brushing in before she’s outta there. Chainmail gloves?

kalisa
14 years ago

I was always in the Whatever Works camp when it came to feeding my kid. Still am actually. He’s 15 and eats pop tarts and a Mt Dew before school. Hey, it’s food.

I did find, when he was younger, that his eating habits inproved greatly when he began attending preschool where they prepared lunch. When he saw all the other kids eating green beans and bologna sandwiches, he suddenly wasn’t so afraid to try them.

One thing I never could get him to eat though was cereal. Isn’t that weird? Thus explains the pop tarts.

jamie
14 years ago

Hi there Sundry: I rarely comment here because, holy Hell, it’s crowded here! But on the topic of pet hair eradication I must break my silence.

My (angsty, small) dog Milo goes beserk if he so much as GLIMPSES our Furminator. Like Cujo, only much, much smaller. And with a smushed-in face.

If anybody wants this amazing device (at least it looked amazing in the PetSmart store video), email me your mailing address. Just click my name, it’s all there on my web site.

I really love your blog Sundry. Keep up the good work.

Jennie C.
14 years ago

I was at a fiber arts show and discovered you can spin dog hair into wool and knit with it. All these Furminator hair balls are going to waste!

Krissa
Krissa
14 years ago

My parents followed a “You don’t have to like it, you have to eat it” rule when we were just a little older than your boy – probably after age 5, I’d say. This really helped with the getting-us-to-eat-yucky-green-beans kinds of things. They’d also help us out and “make” us eat about 1 brussel sprout or something.
It’s a great rule, I think. Worked on us, at least. Simple, logical, and then helped out by the parents giving us a very small portion of whatever we hated. Peace!

The grazing child sounds awesome – especially if all he has available is something nutritious. Like…flax seed meal. I kid!

SJ
SJ
14 years ago

Damn woman you have some beautiful boys!

I concur that the dash-n-go approach worked for us as well with our older son. He was a grazer then, and now sits at the table for meals. If it works, it works!

And I whole-heartedly agree with you about daycare, it’s so totally true.

In the Trenches of Mommyhood

I have 3 grazers, and I am firmly entrenched in the Whatever Works camp. They eat when they’re hungry. Also? They seem to like whatever we’re eating–meaning, they won’t eat a ham and cheese sandwich of their own, but if mommy or daddy is munching on one, they’ll take plenty ‘o bites.
Like I said, whatever works.

B's Mom
14 years ago

Again I love, the pictures of your boys. B is a grazer himself. And Ode to the joy of the “box.” We have had one in our living room for almost two months now. Still is played in everyday.

SART
14 years ago

We’ve been doing the gazing thing for a while now with Nugget. He’s recently discovered that he loves sandwiches (don’t know why – it’s like he turned 3 and realized that bread, meat and cheese are a tasty combo) so he has sandwiches a lot for dinner.

I’ve also gotten into this whole bento box thing for lunch and sometimes for dinner. I’m not nearly as OCD about it as the folks here: http://lunchinabox.net/ but they have some neat ideas that work for my 3 and a half year old boy.

victoria
victoria
14 years ago

“I put his food somewhere he can access it, and let it be.” I LOVE your solution. Some researchers once did a study of kids in an orphanage. They allowed the children access to a variety of foods but did not urge them to eat nutritious meals, nor to eat at specific times; they didn’t even urge the kids to eat at all. The kids were allowed to eat nothing but peanut butter, in any quantity they chose, if they wanted. The researchers found that the unsupervised children, left to their own devices, naturally tended to select (over time) a balanced and nutritious diet. The kids also ate an appropriate amount of calories. (The foods available to the kids did not include sugary snacks or processed junk food.)

MC
MC
14 years ago

I picked up a copy of Jessica Seinfeld’s “Deliciously Deceptive” cookbook at Costco one day on a whim and really love it. She writes about how crazy the meal time struggles were making her. It is a bit labour intensive – premise is that you put veggie purees into recipes kids love so that they “secretly” get the nutrional value.

I thought the time involved in making the purees would be a no-go for me, but its not. On a Sunday a few weeks ago I made big batches (bought big quantities of veggies at Costco) and then put portions in zip locks for future use.

The recipes have been BIG hits with my kids and my husband (who usually turns up his nose at my “healthy” attempts. Brownies made from spinach that are AWESOME. not even kidding).

Anyway, lots of dinner recipes and finger foods for the grazers. flip through a copy if you get a chance.

ikate
14 years ago

So much great stuff in this post and I’m off to a meeting so here are a few observations:
1. Furminator – great product if you use it. We have one and it does work, however we found we needed to use it several times week. Since it took out so much hair we had to do it outside, and eventaully – meh – we now only use it when we are taking the pooch with us to someone elses house in the hopes he won’t leave their house covered in black fur.
2. We try to remedy in a very small way the underpayment of daycare employees by giving our daughter’s teachers gift cards for just about every holiday. Arbor day? $5 starbucks card, Valentine’s day? $10 to a local grocery store. And when she “moves up” to a new class with new teachers we give each teacher a $50 card to somewhere like Target. It’s not much but it’s a little something.

Heather C
Heather C
14 years ago

Riley getting such a kick out of the Amazon box reminds me of a book called Not a Box by Antoinette Portis. It’s about a little bunny who has a not-a-box that becomes a spaceship and a race car and all sorts of stuff. There’s also a follow-up called Not a Stick. I got them for my niece, and she loved them.