Tuesday, October 13, 2020

When your child doesn't want your help but needs it

I took Ben and Max out to dinner recently. We sat outside and Ben got grilled cheese, I had a burger and Max ordered steak, his favorite food these days. The cut was on the tough side so I started cutting it into small pieces. Max's chewing has improved over the years, but stuff that's chewy or too large poses a choking hazard for him. 

"No thank you!" Max said, trying to brush my hand away.

"Max, I need to cut this up for you so you don't choke on a piece," I said.

"No!" Max said, but by that time I was almost done. I poured on A1 Sauce (Max's other favorite "food") and he went to it.

This was new—Max is typically fine with us cutting up food for him. He is still glad to let Dave spoon food into his mouth. (I refuse to do it.)  Now, at 17—and two months away from 18—he did not want my help. But I had to. Max cannot cut up steak on his own, no matter how sharp or serrated the knife. 

Max generally knows how to watch out for his well-being. If he's trying a new food, he'll ask if there are nuts in it (he's allergic). If he needs a hand walking up some stairs, he'll reach out. But at times, he has a stubborn streak about doing things for himself. I have watched him attempt to grasp something he's dropped literally ten or fifteen times before he does it. 

I respect Max's desire for independence—isn't this what Dave and I have been hoping for, his entire life? But part of maturity, for Max, is going to mean letting us continue to help him when it's truly critical, and ongoing conversation, to be sure. In retrospect, I'm betting he was pretty hungry and just wanted to dig into the steak, so maybe next time we have to make sure he has an afternoon snack before he goes out. If the restaurant isn't too busy, perhaps I could ask the waiter to have the kitchen steak cut up for him. (I am having a flashback back to that time, years ago, when I mentioned that I'd ask for Max's spaghetti to be cut at restaurants and people thought that was asking too much—see The Spaghetti Manifesto.)

Max polished off most of his steak and sat there looking very content. He grabbed a cup of water and downed it easily. And then, he showed his maturity in a whole other way. 

"I'm so happy to be out to dinner with my favorite boys!" I said.

"No," said Max.

"Who's my favorite, then?" I asked.

"Daddy!" he answered.

This. Boy.


  1. Aww, poor Max and poor Mom. I definitely know where both of you are coming from. The teen years are when they really like to branch off on their own but you are good to want to help him out where needed. And I gotta say, a steak with A1 sauce sounds so good right now. I miss restaurant dining and good for you to continue that with Max and family. I’d wanna just dig in too! Haha.

  2. ""I'm so happy to be out to dinner with my favorite boys!" I said.

    "No," said Max.

    "Who's my favorite, then?" I asked.

    "Daddy!" he answered."

    Still grinning.

  3. what would Max have done with a whole Steak if you had not jumped in and started cutting it up? While you know he will need assistance, maybe next time instead of just jumping in to help you can wait and allow Max to initiate the request for help. Then you can offer him some solutions, such as you cutting it up or sending it back to with the request that the kitchen staff cuts it up. From reading your posts it sounds like Max is highly capable and often surprises you with things he is capable of doing, but in the past you may have assumed he couldn’t do. He may already have his own idea how to solve this problem.

  4. Don't worry mama. He still loves you the bestest. You should be glowing with pride. It's just that you've done such a good job raising him that he feels confident enough to want to do things on his own. Great big kudos to him for having the patience to continue to try until he accomplishes the task at hand. I know I'd probably be mad way before the tenth try!
    God's grace knows no boundaries


Thanks for sharing!

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