Happy New Year everyone! I hope that you all had a more festive season than us. Don’t get me wrong… we were lucky enough to share it with our dearest friends and family, and were blessed with delicious food and lovely gifts. But we also all had turns with a nasty cold/flu virus that left us all floored, consecutively. We all went off food and cooking, and subsisted mostly on only the most basic and easy of meals (which, sadly to say, probably did not support our return to health as much as we would have liked).
After our respective recoveries, we noticed that our – at times, fussy – Bubby had become seriously averse to anything resembling real food. Despite our renewed attempts at making fresh and wholesome meals, everything we offered at meal times was being met with a resounding “YUCK!”. Now, this can be trying to even the most patient of parents, but it especially gets under my skin! I have little patience for fussy eating. Why? In part, I suppose I don’t like to see good quality food going to waste. In another way, I just love food too much to understand an outright rejection, without even as much as a tasting. But ultimately, I strongly believe in the power of food to nourish and heal our bodies – and that a taste for good food is established during childhood.
So, enough was enough. Hubby and I changed our strategy from “Oh, you don’t want this? How about x, y, z…” to “This is what we are all having for dinner. If you’re not hungry enough to eat it now, you can come back and eat it later when you are hungry (but you have to sit with us while we finish the meal)”. Harsh – I know. Snacks were barred too, especially the fruity oat bars which had previously been sustaining Bubby through the nights (replaced by the slightly less desirable bananas, or said refused dinners).
It was not without a shimmer of guilt that these laws were laid. I could hear echoes of my own parents’ rules in the new system being set forth. But enough was enough. I knew in my heart that Bubby wasn’t actually in disgust of the food on offer, but rather an amusement of the effect of the word “Yuck!” was beginning to takeover his willingness to try new foods, alongside a preference for plain and/or sweet treat-type foods. And I felt strongly that we were heading down a path that would only get more and more picky. The thought of Bubby losing his confidence in trying new foods was not something I wanted to entertain.
So… I am pleased to say, that the hard-line worked a treat! In less than one full day, Bubby was back to eating the same meals as Hubby and I. With snacking cut out, his appetite was primed by meal times. And (albeit with a few negotiations here and there) Bubby is back to trying and enjoying new foods. Last night we all ate a soup of Sea Bass fillet and Fennel, not your typical toddler food, but once Bubby got going with it he seemed more than happy (the compromise was that he got to eat it with a bagel: one bite of bagel for each spoon of soup). Now that Bubby is eating fuller portions at meal times, he is not needing as much extra sustenance through the night, which should also help towards improving his sleep.
In any case, the whole experience got me thinking about how easy it is to take the easy or familiar option – when it is always there as an option. The discipline required to remove those easy and familiar paths from our lives, when they are not serving our real intentions, is considerable. No wonder there are so many professionals making a living by setting rules and restrictions for other people. The only problem is that beyond childhood, there needs to be something real and engaging about choosing a better or more appropriate path. Without a live-in enforcer (in other words, a Mummy… although that’s not really how I see myself, by the way) we are bound to return to those easy options. I think the trick is to connect to the meaning and direction of the intention.
It’s something I’ve done in my yoga practice in the past, with the reminding of a yoga teacher. Setting my intention for the class has a marked effect on my experience of the practice and what I feel I have achieved within it. So with that in mind… I will be setting my intentions with a renewed spirit. Not just in yoga, but in life. And not in the ‘New Year Resolution’ sort of way either. My intention is to set my intentions in a regular but spontaneous way. Whenever I get to a point where I’m feeling frustrated with my path, or losing direction – I will come back to setting my intentions. Reconnecting to what is in my heart and soul, I hope, will help guide me through the many choices of each day.