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? :)


  1. aaahhh excellent. Yes - we've got the cheese in the cup and the yoghurt on my sock. The spoon? anywhere...
    Every time I read your blog posts I could scream out "yeah! exactly! that's right!" But of course! Our kids are just walking the same path right now, only on two other parts of the planet. And I just love how you point those little steps out so wonderfully! Thank you !

  2. And my kids are much, much older, but I'm screaming "yeah! exactly! that's right!" in my heart, too. Because it is. Perfect. Thank you so much for sharing this beautiful journey. <3

  3. So lovely and so true! Thank you for sharing. I have never heard that quote from Jon Kabat-Zin and I love it! Life moves so quickly, we need to enjoy each and every moment of it, just as our kids are! They are a wonderful reminder to us to slow down and enjoy.

    Thank you!

    A Pure Beginning

  4. Thank you for these thoughts, Ania. I'm thinking about infants who are cared for in groups for much of their day. Caregivers too often believe that the only way to care for a group of infants (even a small group) is to get them to the next milestone as quickly as possible (and en masse). I am challenged by your posting to find a way to share your attitude and approach with caregivers and work with them to see the value of babies' explorations, no matter what they look like to us. Lots to think about, Ania...thank you!

    ChildWise Resources

  5. Thank you all!
    Kathy - I find it challenging every day, over and over again not to try and help our son do something the right way...Just recently I caught myself thinking 'but if you grab the spoon like this it will be easier'. Luckily I caught that thought and realized it may be easier for me, but maybe not for him? and again - letting them discover things on their own, challenging as it is for the adults, lets them 'discover' rather than 'copy'. Theses things mut be really hard with groups of inafants, I guess especially with the discourse surrounding child development: is he walking yet? can he eat with a spoon yet?...I tend to think about it in terms of a journey - getting to the destination is fun, but the way there is sooooo important. and often - much more fun.

    Claire & Kathy - I just looked at your websites - soooo inspiring!

  6. Hi Ania,

    I don't have children yet but I'm thinking of preparing myself for their arrival :)I was just wondering if you'd be posting any more articles about raising your son using this method.
    Pozdrowienia z Krakowa :)

  7. Monika - I will be :) I am also planning to bring the method home with me (home=Krakow) soon. Fingers crossed. Wyslij maila to napisze wiecej!!! Ania

  8. Nie jestem w stanie znaleźć Twojego maila zatem wrzucam tutaj :) monika.langie@gmail.com Serdeczne dzięki i oczywiście trzymam kciuki :)