Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Patience on a Spoon

This post is about Antek's eating, my patience and our expectations. And it all starts with a spoon...

Until recently Antek was not really interested in trying out what a spoon can do. He sat down to eat, one of us would show him the food, tell him what's for breakfast, lunch, dinner, then he would keep waving his spoon around when we were feeding him with another spoon. But recently the same spoon became an object of oh so many possibilities.

It all started with one lunch, when Antek suddenly grabbed his spoon, put it in his small bowl with soup, scooped some out and carefully put it in his mouth. WOW I thought to myself and had to bite my tongue so very hard not to call out for Pawel to come see this, and for Antek to 'do it again, do it again!' So this was fun, he was trying to get some soup straight into his mouth with a spoon - yay, so cool.

Next meal we did what we always do and I sat down all ready for Antek to 'do it again, do it again!'. And, of course, he didn't. He sat down, grabbed the spoon, banged it around happily and waited to be fed. This, I have to say, was a moment of test for me - how easy would it have been to just put the spoon into his hand and lead it into his mouth. My patience was tested and my expectations were taking over, while Antek was happily drumming the spoon on the table, closing his eyes with joy. I slowly fed him with one hand and sat on the other.
Some time ago I was reading about schemas, and how children develop different abilities by endless practising and mastering of the same thing in different contexts, situations and using different tools. That week, it turned out, was a week of banging. The spoon on the table; wooden spoon on the floor; teddy on the floor - oh, teddy doesn't quite make a sound; back to the wooden spoon then - on the rubbish bin; on the fridge door; Next week, as it happens, was a week of putting things into other things - so spoon happily landed in the bowl over and over and over and over... and never went anywhere near the mouth. And bread went into the cup of cammomile tea, followed by a piece of broccoli. In the evening ducks in the bath were put into a little box for endless minutes. And finally I realized that it's a good, long path that will end in Antek grabbing a spoon and eating his soup, but so many things are happening on the way I should probably start paying attention to them rather than waiting for the 'right' moment. (because, that's right - every moment is right:)

A friend of mine recenly introduced me to Jon Kabat-Zin and his work on mindfulness. He says: '... there is no need to be impatient with ourselves because we find the mind judging all the time, or because we are tense or agitated or frightened, or because we have been practicing for some time and nothing positive seems to have happened. We give ourselves room to have these experiences. Why? Because we are having them anyway! When they come up they are our reality, they are the part of our life in this moment ... Why rush through some moments to get the other, “better” ones? After all, each one is your life in that moment'. And I guess the same goes for our kids - why rush them into a moment they will get to anyway, a "better" moment, rather than letting so many different experiences be part of their reality? And again - just like with so many other things - I'm sure if he gets there all by himself, the success will be so much sweeter. I am trying my very best to let him discover as many things as possible all by himself...even if it means broccoli in the tea for a while.

So, I continue feeding Antek with one hand and sitting on the other, or hand over to my husband who is a much more patient man than I sometimes am. And Antek is happily picking out raisins from his oatmeal and putting courgettes into his tea. Well, if he likes it that way, why not? :)