Wednesday, August 18, 2010

He's been playing us.

Sullivan, that is.

To give some background, the little guy doesn't use ANY words. He hardly uses "Mama" or "Dada." And even when he does, he doesn't use them to actually address us. In general, we haven't been feeling as though there is much of a connection in communication at all. Speaking to him sort of seemed more for us than for him; we haven't seen much register when we've directly spoken to him, making us wonder if any comprehension is going on.

For his age, he's behind the curve in this area. I was just starting to fret, when...

Yesterday during lunch I mistakingly busted out a blueberry muffin (P.S. Sullivan is a CARB kid) in visual range before he had finished eating much of any of the delicious broccoli, chicken, and peaches on his tray. Scott and I openly confess that we cave more easily with Sullivan when it comes to eating because a) juggling both his and Jackson's food prep and presentation means we don't monitor how much he's eaten/what he's eaten as closely (Sometimes his meals are truly progressive in nature, i.e. throw some cheese on the tray, he fusses that he's finished, throw a cup of apple sauce on the tray, he fusses that he's finished, throw anything nearby on his tray... just getting by while we finish whatever we're doing... ) and b) he's the pickiest dang eater (and not consistent with his preferences... he'll love banana for a day, then hate it for the next three - quite the tough one to please :).

This said, when he is unwilling to eat what we've prepared for him (and making a stinking mess by swirling it aroud his tray, not to mention swooshing it OFF his tray) and we KNOW he needs food, we often throw our hands up in the air and say, "OK, we give... have 12 pickles for dinner and call it a day." or "You want wheat thins in place of your green beans? FINE."

But yesterday was a day when I was feeling rather firey. He caught sight of aforementioned muffin before most of his other food stood a chance (and the other food was - for once - going down REALLY well before I blew it!). I knew once he got a taste of the sweet scrumptiousness of that baked good, it was OVER for everything else. So, I decided to reason with him about it: "You must eat the rest of your broccoli in order to eat this muffin." (inserting body language and hand gestures to fully express myself to my one-year-old). Sullivan continues swiping his hands from side to side, shaking his head violently. Now comes the part where this scenerio is reduced to the principle of the thing: "OK, Sullivan. Look at me, Sullivan. Listen: You need to eat this one piece of broccoli, then you can enjoy that muffin." I shove it in his hand. He throws it. I put it back on his tray and repeat myself 4 dozen times. He fusses, shakes, swipes, claps, kicks - ALL THE WHILE STARING AT THAT DARN MUFFIN.

I wasn't letting this one go. (For visual reference, the piece of broccoli was the size of my pinky fingernail and in no way consituted a well-balanced meal, even with what he'd already eaten. He was going to "win" even with that teensy eensy broccoli bit consumed... BUT IT WAS ABOUT NOT BACKING DOWN at this point.)

So, as I continue this painstaking process, I can't help but wonder if anything I'm saying is even getting through to the kid. Since we hadn't had many previous success stories about 'understanding one another,' I was really beginning to think it was all for not.

Regardless, after fighting it out a few minutes longer (felt like years), all the while with Jackson as a curious onlooker ("What's Mommy gonna do? She's really making a deal about that silly piece of broccoli!"), I called the fight. It was over. He had his chance. He was done. No broccoli = no muffin. I was explaining that he was "all done" and he just fussed away. I walk to the sink, got a wash cloth (fussing, fussing, banging hands on tray, reaching towards table for muffin). I wiped off his hands and his mouth (fussing, fussing, squirming, squirming, reashing towards table for muffin). I placed my hands on the tray and was sliding it away when SUDDENLY, his grew silent and stealthily swiped that piece of broccoli, bringing it to his mouth in one swift movement.

I about fell on the floor.

Instead of falling to the floor, though, I praised the kid to high heaven. Jackson looked at me and said, "Mommy, he ate dat piece of broccoli!" And this began our celebration. Jackson and I danced and clapped and cheered and smiled and then I said, "Good job, Sullivan! I asked you to eat the broccoli and you did! Thank you for doing what I asked you to do! Yey, Sullivan, yey!"

He responded with a blueberry muffin crumb-filled grin.

I called Scott later that day to report in that, "Sullivan has been playing us."

The kid TOTALLY knows what we are saying. He just appears as though he doesn't, because he never feels like complying.

Oh, geez. We got a doozy on our hands. I need to order a few more parenting books. This is a whole different ballgame.

No comments: