It’s Not All Mary Poppins

Different strokes

William is the world’s slowest eater. He is also picky. The pickiness is not a big issue, because (thank heavens) it’s never been pandered to at home. He may eat what he’s given or not, but there are no substitutions. Exactly my policy. It make take a while, but eventually they learn that being picky means being hungry, and they make other choices.

The slowness doesn’t bother me, either. I put him at the table five minutes before everyone else, and he’s there ten minutes after. No skin off my nose. If he’s still there when naptime arrives, he’s removed from the table. Some days, if he’s avoiding something he doesn’t want to eat, that’s fine with him; other’s he’s dismayed. And again: It may take a while, but eventually he will learn that if he doesn’t eat in a reasonable period of time, he risks being hungry. (Note: these days naptime is a full 45 – an hour after lunch. All told, he’s getting 50 – 90 minutes to finish his lunch.)

Apparently, the slowness bothers his mother. At lunch today, when I am teasing him for the tortoise speed — “What? That’s the same mouthful in there? Are you hoping it will melt so you don’t have to chew?” — he explains to me,

“My mommy goes like this.” And he strokes his throat with his palm. (I’ve seen this manoeuvre. It’s the one you use with an animal you’re trying to coax to swallow a pill.)

“Your mommy strokes your throat to help you swallow?”

There is a pause while we gaze upon each other. I picture lunchtimes from here on in, me sitting beside William, picture of patient duty, stroking his throat with each reluctant mouthful.

Yeah, right. I wouldn’t do that if he were the only child in the room. As it is, I have five or six. What would the other four or five children be doing while I coaxed him — the oldest child at the table — through his meal, micro-mouthful by micro-mouthful?

“Well, I don’t.” No snarkiness in the tone, just Firm and Clear Communication.


He swallows.

September 22, 2009 Posted by | food | , | 7 Comments