Monday, August 9, 2010

Get the preschooler to the table on time

Updated: I checked back to this time last year; Will has been feeling pretty sick this week and I was trying to remember when he started getting sick last year.  (A: exactly this time, pretty much to the day.)  I was reminded how much Liam has changed in a year.  Last year he was still using half sign language and some half-words for talking.  Now, it's more words than you can shake a stick at and just this past weekend I asked him if he remembered how he used to say "more"  and "please" when he was a baby and he had no idea what I was talking about; I had to show him the signs.  Every time I get the notion to stop this writing I'm reminded how nice it is to be able to look back.

I've decided Liam is a preschooler now.  I think; now that he's three.  At any rate.  One of my (many) struggles as a (working-full-time-outside-the-home) parent is getting dinner to the table on time and then getting Liam to the table to eat it without an epic struggle.  Remembering that 5:15 pm is not the time of day when I am at my highest and most mindful best, it often goes something like this:

Me:  Liam, dinner is almost ready, 5 minutes, please wrap up what you're doing.
Liam: (Ignores) or "I'm playing! I'm playing! I'm playing!"
Me: Okay, finish up your playing and get ready to take a break for dinner.
Me: Liam, 2 minutes until dinner, get ready please.
Liam: No, no, no, no, no; I don't want to eat.  I'm playing.
Me: Well, we're going to eat dinner, so wrap it up please.
Me: Liam, dinner time, it's on the table, come on.
Liam: (Crying fit.)

Last week the child developmental specialist I see to help us know how best to talk with Liam about Will's sickness and hospitalizations suggested something I should have thought of on my own, that we give Liam a dinnertime ritual to help him transition from play to the table.  (Her first idea has always been: almost no kids this age eat dinner at the table; don't fight it, this is a battle for when he is five.  But, since dinner at the table is one of the only parenting outcomes Will has requested, I told her we had to try.)

So, Friday, we started "candle time."  Now our conversations go more like this:

Me: Liam, almost dinner time, 5 minutes, please finish up what your doing so you can get the candles out.
Liam: Is it ready? Is it on the table? Is it time?  Daddy, Daddy, will you help me get the candles?

Seriously.  I don't know if it will stick, but so far it's about that good a transformation.  We still have trouble keeping him at the table, but now at least we can get him there.  We use these candles given to us by Will's sister.  Liam loves them more than words can express. The giraffe has already been glued twice. 

Tonight's dinner was a weeknight favorite featuring leftover chicken: quesadillas.  They are the easiest thing to make.  Get some flour tortillas (we use whole wheat), thinly slice some cheese (we use cheddar or monterey jack or whatever is around), slice some green onion and some tomato if you have it.  Shred up the leftover chicken.  Make a tortilla sandwich with the chicken, cheese, etc.  Pan fry/grill (use very little oil and only a medium hot pan) until golden and melt-y.  Serve with sour cream for the non-calorie-counting set and a side of whatever vegetables you have around (tonight green beans and carrot sticks; often it's black beans and sauteed squash).  Totally toddler approved.  Will likes them too.

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