In our house, we serve vegetables before dinner. While waiting for the main course (which Zachary will not eat) we offer up steamed carrots or broccoli (which Zachary does not eat). Every now and then, Lilah and Benjamin get extra-special lucky and I have no fresh asparagus in the house, so I heat up some frozen peas.
Oh, my God, you would think I was offering Halvah covered in chocolate. If there is one food my younger two love, it is peas. Benjamin pops them in his mouth during television time. Lilah sits on the floor and shovels them into her mouth so fast that, assuming there is a spare grown-up around, we assign someone the task of simply monitoring the situation.
The other night, that job went to my husband. He sat on the floor with her in the kitchen while I fixed dinner, saying things like, “Lilah! Use your hands. Your hands. You don’t need to pour them directly from the bowl into your mouth.”
Eventually, I finished the spinach soup and we all went in to dinner (which, in case you were wondering, Zachary did not eat). Usually, Lilah is a fantastic eater. But that night, she just kept fussing and screaming. We could not figure out what was wrong. We gave her some spinach from the soup on her placemat. I tried spooning some into her mouth. We gave her the soft pretzels we had made and then bread, both with and without cream cheese. We even brought out cantaloupe, her favorite dessert. But she would not stop yelling at us.
Finally, I took her out of her chair and held her on my lap. Whereupon she lunged for Zachary’s (empty because he had not wanted any soup) bowl. At this point it finally dawned on me: those were exactly the same bowls out of which she usually ate her peas. The poor baby thought the entire family had been sitting there at dinner, gorging ourselves on peas, while relegating her to shit like bread and spinach soup.
This is something that is sure to come up in therapy sometime down the road.