Monday, 27 October 2008

Don't mess with the messer...

Being mother to a nearly-three year old can be a pretty frustrating job at times, especially if you also have an older child. The temptation is to assume that your younger child is just as emotionally and mentally advanced as their older sibling.

For example, my mother tells this great story of how, when I was tiny and playing up in the supermarket she found herself barking "For heaven's sake Potty! You're behaving like a two year old!" at me. And then stopped herself, as she remembered that actually, I was. Two years old.

I try to keep that in mind on the rare occasions (ha!) when I'm shocked at my younger son doing two year old stuff. Spilling drinks. Messing things up. Throwing tantrums. You know, all the things that sound perfectly normal child behaviour whilst it isn't actually happening to you. But whilst he isn't as grown up as his brother in many ways, in others he's more than a match for his parents. New parents, be warned. Don't try the same tactics on your second child as those that worked on your first. Big mistake.

This evening at the dinner table, Husband and I were trying to encourage our younger son to eat his dinner by himself. Some mothers would no doubt be shocked to encounter a child who prefers to have his food spooned into his mouth at the great age of 2 years 9 months. Others simply roll their eyes and mutter 'been there, done that, am wearing the filthy t-shirt'. I'm one of the latter.

Don't get me wrong, Boy #2 can feed himself. If he's hungry enough, or if he likes it enough, or if it's finger food, no problem. Quite often though, he just can't... be.... bothered. And whilst I would like to be of the 'if you don't feed yourself, you don't eat' school of mothering, I don't have the time, the inclination or frankly the hardness of heart to carry that through. So, around 20% of the time, there I am, playing mother hen to a baby bird.

This evening, after fruitlessly trying to encourage him to eat solo, Husband decided to try some reverse psychology on our little angel. It worked - and still works - on his older brother, so why not?

Husband: "Actually, don't do it Boy #2. I don't think Boy #2 can feed himself, do you Mama?"

Me (it's risky, but let's try it): "No, you're probably right. I don't think he can either."

Boy #1 (catching on fast, as ever): "And neither do I."

Boy #2 looked around the table in amazement. What were we all saying? Could he hear us correctly? He reached for his spoon. Grinned. And handed it to me. "No. Can't. You. Do. It. Mama."



  1. Excellent. The only answer I can see is not to teach them to speak. MH

  2. Haar! Haar! What a clever little sausage!

    I used to love spoon-feeding mine when he was little - they grow up into glowering teens much too quickly.

  3. Oh my that's brilliant. What a great sense of humour and cunning!!! I still have to feed my 4 year old at those times when she Can't Be Bothered. We did have to do 'eat training' with her eventually as she regularly Can't Be Bothered. I started her supper an hour earlier and just left her sitting there til she finished (first few times was over an hour) she's got the message now though and only in times of exhaustion does she need to be fed now! (I am possibly an overindulgent mother to still feed a 4 year old!!!)

  4. That boy has all the skills to be a future politician!

  5. MH - we're way past that now. Oh well. Perhaps I should encourage them to speak more Dutch. That way at least I wouldn't be able to understand half of it...

    SB, I know it, which is why I don't really mind. It's just that a moany blog makes for much more entertaining reading, don't you think?

    MdP, 'eat training'. Never heard of it, but it sounds like a great idea. You may see a post coming up on that sometime soon!

    Mud, good point - and heaven help us all!

  6. Well, at least he offered you a solution, so that he did eat after all. He's a smart little guy, isn't he? Does he take after anybody in particular?

  7. Glad someone else is as good at potty training as I am!

  8. Clearly Boy #2 has inherited his mummy's creativity!
    I sometimes wish I could still spoon feed Littleboy 2 - who is almost 2. He is quite capable of using a spoon/fork, but prefers his hands. This results in an enormous mess at every meal, huge amounts of laundry (as his clothes are always covered in food) and ensures the mouse/mice have a field day in our kitchen (like yours, ours has returned).

  9. Crikey, my nearly 6 year old stills asks me to 'help with his peas'.
    He even asked me to 'do the choo choo train thing' recently but would deny all knowledge if I ever told anyone!

  10. Hi there

    I do apologise for clogging up your comment box with this but would it be possible for you to drop me an email at your convenience?

    I'm working on something at the moment that I think may be of interest to you both as a parent and a blogger.



  11. SB - I like to think so. But then, I AM his mother...

    Irene, would love to say me but I suspect it's his dad coming through on this one!

    Modern, thanks for the visit and yes, for every Gina Ford acolyte there are loads of us rubbish potty trainers out there.

    NVG, we should definitely get together to discuss mouse tactics. And I have to say, having read your comment, maybe spoon feeding Boy #2 isn't so bad after all.

    Tara, you mean Boy #1 is not the only one? Such a relief!

    Kerry, I've sent you a reply via g-mail. Let me know if it doesn't come through for any reason.

  12. So dangerous - trying to outwit a two year old. They are the masters at this stuff aren't they?

    Now what do I do with a four year old who answers back with "Don't have a moody!" - I kid you not?

  13. Haaa! I love that kid! He seriously reminds me of my kid!

    I don't think he can be bothered either, which is why it is shoveled in for him most of the time.

    Oh man, seriously...needed that this morning!


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