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Tharini’s post on feeding time battles inspired me to write this.

By the time I feed toddler and infant I go nuts. They are at an age (two and a half years; 11 months) where they have to be fed. Also I am the kind of mom who will feed them happily till I die. Not out of love, but because of the extra cleaning I have to do if I let them eat by themselves. So I bring up age as an excuse.

It takes me exactly 2 hours to feed them their breakfast. Same thing goes for dinner. Toddler eats lunch at her day care. Some days she eats well some days she starves. Of late I don’t even ask her day care provider if she ate well. It just gives me extra stress if I hear that she didn’t eat. So what ever she eats outside of home is an added bonus for me. We used to read books together and bond as I fed them their food. In the past five months things are taking the worst possible route. I play Barney or Curious George or some VCD from India while I feed them. (God, how I used to smirk at moms who used to say, “Oh, he needs his Dora or Clifford to eat. So I always carry a cassette or DVD along”. Life Lesson Learnt: What goes around comes around) At least if they eat well, I would not feel so guilty doing what I am doing now. They wait for me to finish feeding them and just as I put that last spoon full of cereal in their mouth, they throw up. I clench my teeth to prevent myself yelling, now a days I am left with a throbbing pain in my jaws.

After a lot of pressure from hubby, I decide to some how let go of my preferences and train toddler to eat by herself. This way I have only infant to feed. I gave her a variety of finger food – easy for her to eat, easy for me to clean. But after a couple of mouth full she declared that she is “All done Amma. Amma, can I throw it in the garbage?” and walked away. Then I had to chase behind her and feed the rest of the food for her, back to square one.

Then I made food interesting for her. She was very kicked when I presented “Shapes Upma”(I made rice rava upma, cast it in to a variety of shapes and steamed them). Same story all over again, she took a bite and walked away.

If I force her to sit in front of her plate she sits there and waits for me to turn my head. That fraction of a second I am not paying attention, she runs to the kitchen sink and empties her plate full of food in to the kitchen sink and says, “All done Amma. Amma, I put it for washing” I just loose it. I would endure about 10 throwing up sessions or 100 starvation sessions instead of seeing food being wasted like this.

It is the same with the desi kids I work with. It brings tears to my eyes to see how the preschoolers I work with, throw food. The kid wants a banana, the minute the teacher opens it, she/he would have already changed their mind and they would want yogurt. If the teacher tries explaining that the banana needs to be finished before the next snack is opened there is absolutely no effect. Either there is lots of crying or no eating. It is not the same with most of the Caucasian kids. They do justice to their food.

Is it all desi kids? I mean, is it something in the genes? May be desi kids can absorb the required nutrition from air and manage to sustain. Or, are the kids just trying to push our buttons? May be we desi moms are so uptight about food, quantity and quality that makes the kids act this way? My daughter’s pediatrician always says that the kid eats whatever he/she needs. But really, is 3 tablespoons of cereal, 2 tablespoons of mac and cheese and one Marie biscuit enough for a two year old for one whole day? Sometimes I am just struck, I can’t let go and I don’t have the time or patience to follow through. By the time I am done with breakfast, clean up, drop toddler off at day care, finish my chore, it is lunchtime for infant. That takes about two hours of cajoling, dancing and singing. Infant takes a short nap and it is time to pick up toddler from day care. Before the evening snack is done, I am getting their dinner ready. Couple of time I have woken up at 3.00AM, all drenched in sweat and with a strange sense of fear because I had dreamed that it is time for infant’s feeding time! No kidding.

I keep telling my toddler that it is not okay for her to waste food. I give her small portions and give her lectures about responsibility. She has heard so many of these ‘responsibility lectures’ it is impacting her negatively. Yesterday she threw her corn down and when I called out her name in that special tone, she realized that it is time for the lecture, she tells me, “I know amma, I know, I am not responsible”. Once she closed her ears with her hands, shut her eyes tightly and said, “Amma, I can’t see you, amma I can’t hear you”. (She tried walking away from the kitchen with the same pose and walked straight in to the wall. It was one of those crazy “you-have-to-be-there” funny moments. :) ).I know that it takes lots of repetition and lots of patience to get through to them. But I will be glad if I see light at the end of the tunnel!