Tuesday, November 12, 2019

When your child acts differently around each parent

Max's abilities at home sometimes depend on which parent he is with. I'm Tough Mommy—he knows that around me, he has to eat on his own, pull up his own pants and spell out his weekend news reports for school. With Marshmallow Daddy, it's a whole other story. This became seriously obvious over the weekend, when Dave was away on business. My mom, my sister and her family stayed over, and we went out to dinner to celebrate my beautiful mom's big birthday.

I'd given Max fair warning: "Hey, Max, I am not going to feed you." Max is perfectly capable of feeding himself, assuming we cut up food as necessary into smaller pieces. But when we go out to eat, he prefers that Dave spoon-feed him. No, make that he expects that Dave will feed him. And yes, I know: It shouldn't be happening. But it does. The habit is hard to break, on both sides.

I get it. For years, since Max was a little guy, he's been the primary feeder. Early on in Max's life, it was a very emotional thing for me; I struggled with the fact that the seemingly most basic functions—chewing, swallowing, sipping—were hard for our little guy. I struggled with a lot back then. But Dave's woe-is-him feelings were not as intense as mine were. And so he spoon fed Max...and never stopped.

At dinner, I ordered Max's faves: onion soup, steak and mashed potatoes. When the soup arrived, I handed him the spoon, tucked a couple of cloth napkins into his shirt, put one on his lap and let him go to it. Max needed a hand with severing long strings of cheese but otherwise did fine. When his steak arrived, I cut it into bits. Max gestured toward the soup bowl, and I dropped pieces in there. He downed it all, in between spoonfuls of mashed potatoes. Like I knew he could and would. Then he drank two glasses of milk. By himself.


I think we're going to need to go cold turkey on this one. Or cold steak.

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