Wednesday, September 26, 2007

No food wars here

When we began unschooling we decided not to limit food choices or quantity for Ian. I grew up in a house where I had to eat everything even if I didn't like it and now I am a very (very, very) picky eater. My husband grew up being able to make his own choices about what he wanted to eat and even where he wanted to eat it (when he was 4 and 5 he didn't like his food to touch so he requested separate plates and utensils for each dish). Nowadays he will eat almost anything.

This may just be a coincidence. I don't really know. I am half convinced that I am a super taster like the They Might Be Giants song and that might be why I am so picky.

We trust Ian and we feel that only he knows his body. Only he knows when he is hungry and when he is full, what his body is craving and when to stop eating.

It has been a joy lately to watch him make food choices. The other day right as we sat down to a meal of pork chops, bread and salad he told me he wanted mint chocolate chip ice cream. At first I was hesitant to give it to him. I started feeling angry because I had just spent time making this nice meal and I wanted him to eat what I prepared! I took breath and realized I wasn't letting him make his own choices (and I was being silly) so I fixed him a bowl. He sat down happily with us to eat his ice cream. When he was nearly finished, he pushed the bowl away and announced, "I want to eat my dinner now." Wow! I didn't expect that one.

Today he asked for gummy bears. I put a large hand full in a bowl. He ate a few, I ate a few. He soon handed me the bowl and said, "I don't want these anymore." I put them aside in case he wants them later. He might. He might not.

I am just amazed at his choices at 3.5 years old. I am 30 and I don't have that much willpower! I suppose for him it's not willpower though. He really just doesn't want any more. He knows that if he does want more they are available and no one will tell him that he can't have them. Freedom of choice makes all the difference in the world.


whimsigal said...

That is a powerful post! I also have those initial feelings of anger when Ryan requests ice cream or twinkies or something for dinner. Good for you that you quelled that initial response and let him make his own choice.


Rinnyboo said...

Thanks Evie! It is definately a process and there have been times when I have not been able to quell the response, but it does happen more and more.

I guess I just feel insulted sometimes that I put all this effort into making a meal that he rejects. Usually I don't ask him beforehand if he wants what I was fixing; maybe he doesn't like what I make sometimes!

I am really bad about taking everything personally so I am working on that. Case in point, just now he told me he didn't want any dinner because the chicken was yucky. A year ago I would have felt really insulted and taken it out on him by getting angry. I am learning (slowly) to just accept it and move on. I don't want him to have the same issues with weight and self-image that I have now. I want him to be whole.