10 November 2014

Five things I said I would never do to my #child

I am not proud of myself by admitting these things. Planning things to teach my son in my head and actually pushing through with doing it are two entirely different things. Things were much easier when the pretty pictures were still inside my head. Day by day, my good intentions were sidestepped and the no-no's were slowly creeping in to our daily lives and becoming yes-yes.

I just wanted to get it out of my chest and hopefully, I would feel less guilty about it.

Here are the five things I promised myself I would never do/feed/(insert more verbs here) to Riley:

1. Processed food - On Riley's 6th month, he started on solid food and I diligently boiled, mashed, and strained healthy fruits and vegetables for him to taste and eat. It did not matter to him that his mom slaved away preparing his small meals. He would promptly spit it out and cry out loud as if I fed him poop. I've tried various flavor combinations to find out what he would like. And just when he was happily eating it one day, he would spit it out the next day.

Tired and stressed from this (and from a million other mommy things that I would not go into detail about now), I bought him baby food in jars and packs. Just add warm water or reheat in the microwave and I'm done. No hassle. If he eats it, great. If he does not want it, fine. I'll try again tomorrow. I've tried giving him the organic ones but he preferred the 'normal' baby food. Now that he is almost two years old, he is still a picky eater. I told myself not to stress about it whenever he eats packed noodles, french fries and spaghetti from McDonalds. At least he is eating, right? He occasionally eats vegetables but when he spits it out, I don't force him to eat it. I will ask him what he wants and if he says he wants a cookie, I will tell him sure if you eat the food on your plate. Even if he eats just one bite, I will still hand him a cookie. I don't want him to have a negative experience during meal times that's why I do it that way.

2. Watching TV - What can you do if Mickey Mouse is more entertaining than you? Me, I watch Mickey Mouse too. And Jake & the Neverland Pirates, Peppa Pig, Hi-5, and most of the shows on the Disney Channel. You'll know if you're a mom to a boy when I say that Thomas the train is the number 1 train in Sodor, not Spencer. Riley probably spends around 30 minutes in the morning and an hour in the afternoon watching TV.

He does not sit down and zone out in front of the tv though. He still jumps on the sofa, rides his toy car, dance when there is music playing... he does all of these things while 'watching' tv. I'm not sure how he manages to remember what is happening but somehow he does. He still loves interacting with people more than watching and he always runs to his books when we are inside the room so I hope his tv schedule is not affecting his mental skills in the long run.

People who meet him for the first time are surprised on how well he speaks, especially after knowing that he is only turning 2 this December. Watching TV sort of helps him learn different words that he does not hear from us. Like jumping on muddy puddles and ahoy mates!

This is what I see when I get home! Shame on you, Papa!

3. Playing on the iPad - It seemed so cute at first, when Riley was grasping and pointing his chubby fingers on the iPad screen. Now that he knows there are fun games in it, he does not want to let go. He has a really strong grip for a child his size. He navigates youtube to find videos where people are opening, playing and reviewing legos. He will watch and choose the cartoons that he likes. He even pushes my hands away from the iPad when I try to take it away from him.

If it was just me, I would limit his playtime on this but what can I do when I arrive home from work and someone has already given him an iPad to play with? I'm always the fun spoiler because I'm the one always telling him no and to give it back. To lessen this, I play with him for a few minutes and tell him in advance that I will be taking it away from him after he finishes the game. Oh he knows how to bargain already at such a young age! He will tell me, "Just one more Mama then Riley finish". But after 3 more games, he is still not done. By this time, I would make him give it up and he will dramatically run to the bed, plant his face on the mattress and cry.

Drama king, I tell you. I'm already thinking of auditioning him for acting roles when he is a bit older! Might as well put all his drama to good use. am I right?

4. Eating cakes, donuts, chocolates, and ice cream - The first time he saw M&M's, he was frantically yelling "mine!" over and over again. And he has not even tasted it then. I'm thinking he was attracted to the bright colors and it came in his favorite shape (circle). He still has not tried M&M's (to my knowledge!) but he has tried a tiny taste of a chocolate bar, tons of chocolate cake (blame it on birthdays), and gallons of ice cream! I've been trying to not give it to him and I find it difficult since a lot of people (grandparents, mostly) buys it for him whenever I am not around. And when I get home and find that it is not opened yet, I will (with a heavy heart) eat it all so that he will not consume it. The sacrifices we parents face for our children! Ha!

I try to tell Riley that he will only get these things on special occasions and from the way he has been eating a lot of these lately, he probably thinks these special occasions are also called weekends.

5. Telling him that he will get scolded by strangers if he does not obey me - If you have a very headstrong toddler in your hands and very little patience, you will succumb to this! I used to hate it when I hear parents tell their kids that the ghost will scare them if they do not do as they are told. I promised myself that I would never, ever tell this to Riley. I guess I kind of kept my promise because I am doing this although with a twist.

For example, last weekend in the playground, we were going to head home and I have been giving him constant reminders that we are about to leave so it will not be sudden for him. When I told him that I have collected our bags and will head to the door, he got up with the toy cars he was playing with and would not leave them behind. I tried telling him that those were not his and he can come back for it when we visit again next week but he still would not let go. After 10 minutes of calmly explaining to him the reasons why he cannot take them home, I called over one of the play area attendants and told Riley that Uncle is here to take back to toys from him. Riley took one look at the guy and politely returned the toys. No drama involved! It's like magic!

I've done this countless of times whenever we are out. I will tell him to not throw the food in the restaurant because the waiters will not be happy at him if they have to clean it up. He will stay close to my side when I am busy at the ATM or the grocery counter because I told him the security guard will tell him to stay close to me. He will take a few bites of fish and meat because he does not want the auntie and uncle selling fish and meat to scold him for not eating the food. It has even come to a point that I will just tell Riley to behave and he will finish the sentence by "or else uncle will scold me." I'm trying to cut back on doing this to him because I don't want him to be scared of the people around him. But it is so addicting to be able to say one word and he will follow.

I have a feeling this list will multiply as the years go on. And as I try to mend my wicked (but effective) ways to raise my son, I will be crossing my fingers and wish (and hope) that it will not turn out to be a childhood trauma that Riley will remember when he is older.


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