Thursday, March 07, 2019

Snacks and things

Ever since Alexander has learned to climb onto the table we've had to limit a couple of Zoë's favourite things: play-dough and painting. Alexander simply isn't very good at either activity though he is rather passionate about wanting to join in! 

Today Zoë asked if she could get the play-dough out and I told her we could try it but that I wasn't sure how it would work with Alexander around. In the past he's started eating it right away. Today, however, he was very interested in all the tools we have to use with the play-dough and carefully watched and mimicked what Zoë was doing. 

He patted and rolled and stuck cookie cutters into his bit of dough like a big boy (then he'd hold the whole mess up, cookie cutter and all, and pout, "Mom?"—he never quite managed to pull a cookie cutter back out of the dough and wanted help every time).

Those two were doing such a good job together that I decided I could take a little break from supervising their play to work on some math problems, so I got my books and set up my work station across the table from them. I actually got quite a bit done—it worked so much better than when I try to work while they're colouring (because then Alexander wants to either colour in my workbook or he shoves his picture in my face every two seconds for approval). 

I glanced up every few minutes to see how they were doing, to praise their creations, to help dig cookie cutters out of dough, and to reassure Zoë that "it's okay to make mistakes."

Boy, do I really need to internalize that, myself! I get so frustrated when I don't understand something right away but she just says, "I mixed the play-dough colours but it was only an accident and it's okay to make mistakes, right, Mom?" and completely forgives herself. Luckily, I was on a roll this morning, math-wise, and didn't have to erase much (unlike last night when I should have been soothing myself with, "it's okay to make mistakes"). 

Anyway, I looked up from my book once and noticed Alexander was making an awfully sour expression. 

"What's up, Alex?" I asked. 

He shook his head no (which means either "no" or "I don't know" right now) and then I noticed he was chewing a little bit. 

"Did you eat some play-dough?" I asked.

He nodded.

"Yeah. I told you not to do that. It's pretty yucky stuff. Is it yucky?"

He nodded but continued chewing.

"Do you want to spit it out?" I asked, holding out my hand. 

He slowly stuck his tongue out, balancing a mangled ball of play-dough on its tip.

"There. That's better," I said, scraping all the blue bits from his tongue. "Don't eat any more, okay? It's yucky."

And Zoë said, "Mom, he just made a mistake. It's okay to make mistakes, you know."

"I know," I agreed. 

If she can keep remembering that—and picking herself up off the ground—she will go far in life.
*****

Zoë is my pickiest eater, by far. She's opinionated and she's stubborn and she's volatile. She isn't even simply picky about what food she eats; her pickiness extends to how something is prepared and who serves her. If Mommy isn't the one to do it for her then she just might not eat it. She will eat the "leaves" of the broccoli but not the "branches." She loves "snacks" above all else and will ask for "snacks" with her lunch or to have a "snack" right before or right after a meal. 

Once she asked for a snack and I told her she could have anything that wasn't in a package.

"A granola bar?" she asked.

"That's in a package."

"A rice roller?"

"That's in a package."

"Fruit snacks?"

"Package."

This went on for some time and really my goal was for her to choose something that was somewhat fresh and wasn't loaded with sugar. Eventually she worked her way to...

"Cheese stick?"

"Fine," I said, so she happily skipped to the refrigerator and fished out a cheese stick.

I will interject here to say that by "cheese stick" what I mean is "string cheese." This is something that often confuses my listeners south of the 49th paralell because whenever I say "cheese stick" they think of fried mozzarella sticks, but I certainly mean the unfried variety. In Canada, it seems (from my memory/experience), stringable cheese is, by and large, referred to as "cheese sticks," not "string cheese." If anything along those lines, a Canadian would refer to them as "cheesestrings" and not "string cheese." 


At any rate, my children call them cheese sticks about as often as they say string cheese, and so it was that Zoë fished around in the fridge for a cheese stick. She whipped it out of the cheese drawer, brandished it in my direction and peevishly teased, "It's. In. A. Package."

Touché, my child. But it's not laden with sugar. So we both win this round.

*****

Yesterday Zoë was begging for a snack again and in another effort to guide her towards a healthy choice I told her that she could have a snack on the condition that she choose only from the options I give her. She agreed and I began listing things she could eat.

"I will happily cut up an apple for you," I said. "Or..."

"Ummm, Mom," she interrupted, "I don't fink you really understand options. You have to give me at least—" she paused to fiddle with her fingers for a second before holding up two of them— "two fings to choose from for it to be an option."

"I was getting to your other options," I told her.

In the end she had a snack of canned peaches and a few slices of cheddar cheese.

A friend on facebook astutely commented that "one of the options must be something she likes or it doesn't count," which was hilariously correct about Zoë, though it might be even more correct to say that one of the options must be something she previously had in mind or it doesn't count. 

It's not that she doesn't like apple slices—she does! We had apples with our lunch today and when we finished our first apple she asked that I cut up another apple for us to share. So she'll eat apples, very willingly. But only when she wants to.

One day she will eat apples like they're going out of style. The next day she will throw a fit if you even suggest she consider maybe having an apple (or a tomato or spaghetti or a bowl of cereal—it could be anything). 

She is very much three years old. 

*****

It's been rather fun to have her be three years old, not because three-year-olds are inherently fun (they're not; three-year-olds are the worst), but because she's good enough with numbers that she is 100% convinced that we are exactly the same age (which is to say that she's terrible with numbers). 

I am not 3. But I am (just about) 30 years older than Zoë, making me 33. So in her mind she and I are both plain old 3. 

As you can imagine, this has severely detracted from any authority I might have over her—in her mind— because clearly I know no better than she does because we are the exact same age

She is looking forward to her birthday when she'll suddenly be the same age as Daddy (because who needs the tens column?). I told her that would be so sad for me because then I would be stuck at three, but she reassured me that on my next birthday I could be four like her. 

I think it was during this conversation that she realized that while we're about the same age she is actually older—by an entire month. 

So why is it that Mom gets to call all the shots?!

It's that dreaded tens' column, dear girl.

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