Beatles in 1967 couldn’t have said it better. It’s one of those evergreen songs that transcends time and resonates in all relationships including the one between a PARENT and a CHILD.
Love IS everything and it is the answer to all (ok, most) problems in life.
My problem: Peanut’s fussy eating habits and worse gagging after being urged to eat his meal.
My problem: Peanut’s sudden rise in irritability and crying at the drop of a hat.
My solution: Force, urge him more. (When have we really listened to our doctors? They can go hoarse shouting to let the child be, child knows best, child wont starve himself. But noooo, mothers know best or how can we let our child skip a nutrition packed meal at all 3 meals!)
My solution: Let him cry it out. When that didn’t work, get angry at him and tell him to stop crying or else… (When the grandparents told us to take it easy, we shrugged it off as words from indulgent grandparents. We know best, we are the parents!)
FAILED SOLUTIONS… Let me rephrase – drastically failed. He became even better at gagging, leaving us even more exasperated. He became even more irritable and cried for nothing, leaving me in tears.
It all came down to an evening when all of this got the better off me and Peanut for no fault of his was at the receiving end of my wrath.
Ridden with guilt, experiencing my weakest moment as a mother and questioning all that I had done as a mother, I ran for Dr. Spock and tried to find ‘yet’ another solution. There was some good age-old advice to my problems but this time there was a nagging feeling that there was something else, something else missing in my ‘approach’ to all my issues with Peanut.
In my quest to my find that perfect solution I was reading Spock, re-reading, reading it aloud and then further analyzing it with Hubby. Finally hubby put a stop to all that and said Peanut responds best to ‘love’. At his worst and (might I add) at our worst, love is what sees us through these battles with Peanut. And then we started recollecting all our successes with Peanut’s (mis) adventures and each time it was our show of love that came to our rescue and eased the situation (yes, its very much a battlefield at that moment).
While we absolutely love and adore both our children that is not the point here. The ABILITY TO SHOW LOVE AT THE TIME OF CRISIS is the point here and somewhere in my journey to be a good parent (which among other things is ‘making sure’ he eats well, and is happy), during these crisis times, I went too far in the wrong direction in trying to ‘enforce’ good and acceptable eating habits and behavior.
So while recalling, it dawned on us that during his outbursts when we just listened to his heart rather than his wails AND hugged him; asked him what was wrong; allowed him to express himself (without losing our cool); and immediately distracted him with another activity; all the while reassuring him (with our actions – they do speak WAY LOUDER than words) that we are there for him no matter what especially when he himself struggled to fathom the situation; we were successful and the situation was abetted with little fuss. In hindsight we appreciated that it was those moments that reassured Peanut we loved him and made him secure.
We also realized that every time we lost our cool at his incessant crying or tried to avoid it, it made him feel even more isolated and insecure, which led to even more crying.
Thus, we have pledged to ensure that we follow that path of love ALWAYS in helping Peanut and helping us and keeping the general peace at home. I hope to do so by constantly reminding myself of all the past successes with love, because…
…Love is TRULY all you need.
As for the eating (rather gagging) concern, we are embarking on a Dr. Spock strategy of taking it slow (effects of years of force feeding wont just vanish overnight). I have tried a similar half-baked strategy in the past and failed. But fingers crossed this should work. This entails helping him to feed himself and offering him wholesome food he enjoys over a period of months without any fuss from our end. All this in the hope that he will come to enjoy and experiment with food and not eat because ‘it makes you stronger’ or that ‘you will get dessert after the meal’ but simply because he needs to eat and relishes that experience.
Wish us luck and catch an update on our progress in the next couple of weeks. 🙂