When my 2nd child was still in a high chair and "feeding" himself it was a food fight from beginning to end. The fight was not with me or his father. The fight was with this curious toddler trying to get those enticing objects from his plastic plate with puppies staring at him to his mouth. It was a struggle since he preferred playing with them instead of having them disappear forever. Spaghetti curled up like a kitten; cheerios with that hole meant to be worn on litle fingers; peas certainly designed to touch or roll or squish or throw like a miniature ball-all made his meals a smorgasbord to be toyed with, not eaten. I kept telling myself this was just a stage he was going through. My mother kept telling me to punish him. His father kept telling me to do the feeding. His older sister did not find him funny. Annoying would best describe their mood with this funny little guy covered in the same meal the rest of us had on our plates.
I consulted all the advice books written by professionals. Since they varied in their opinions I put the books away and tried feeding him; tried keeping him in his room while we ate; tried letting him eat before we did. Nothing really worked so I cut down on his portions. It somewhat solved the problem. At least it didn't take him that long to eat and play-then play some more.
One night a friend of mine joined us for dinner. She didn't have children so once the zoo began she was horrified especially when a few peas went whizzing past her. It was obvious she was happy to say good-bye. It had to have been at least four years later that I ran into her. By then she had a toddler of her own-a little boy with beautiful curly hair. My toddler-now six and a half and still curious in a tamer sort of way-was with me as was his younger sister. My friend could not believe he was that monster who'd made mush out of his food; the same kid who'd thrown some homeruns with his peas. She asked me if we'd like to go to lunch with them. So we did. And the food fight began. But it wasn't my child. He was content with his happy meal. It was that toddler with the beautiful curls turned monster with his food.
I wanted to tell my friend it was just a stage but I didn't say a thing. She'd find out. We parents always do-for one thing even the experts can agree upon is that one stage leads to another. It's all just part of being a parent.