Mama Food and Dada Water

According to our children one of the best drinks in the world is “Dada water”. This is a term Everett started using a few years ago for the glass of water that Chris keeps at his bedside at night. Everett preferred this cup of water over all others. Many mornings he comes into our room, drinks the entire glass and then lets out a satisfied sigh. A couple years ago Chris starting joking that it was made using a secret formula, and about a year ago Everett wrote down the recipe for it: “cold wader [sic]”. After that it became know as “special recipe Dada water”.

Gwen has decided that the food on Mama’s plate is the most desirable and delicious in the house, even if everyone at the table is eating the exact same thing (which is almost always true these days as the babies have now transitioned to solid food). We have developed a dinnertime ritual where Gwen will have a couple bites from her plate and then look at Melissa’s plate and say “Bite?”, and Melissa will tell her that it’s all the exact same food, and Gwen will say “Bite? Bite? Bite?” and then refuse to eat her own food. We recently got new chairs at the kitchen table, and they have square edges that provide an almost continuous surface if you put them right next to each other. Gwen takes advantage of this by slowly sliding off of her chair and onto Melissa’s lap (we call this “the booty slide”). Then she will take Melissa’s silverware and help herself. Teddy watched this for a while from his high chair, but eventually started wondering (rightfully) why he didn’t get to sit in someone’s lap. The difference between them is that while Gwen wants Mama food, Teddy just wants to be held and sometimes to drink the coveted Dada water from Chris’ glass. Both of them strenuously object when Chris makes it clear that he is going to hold the glass for them while they drink.

The other night Chris and Melissa looked at each other and laughed at the absurdity of this situation, and we contemplated how much screaming we might have to endure to have a normal dinner again where all the children sit in their seats, or how long we might have to wait for the twins to outgrow this behavior. One short term solution is that we feed the children first and then we eat later, though with this approach we miss having family dinner and we are pretty hungry by the time we are able to eat. Fortunately there have been some signs of progress with regard to eating. First, we have started using time-outs as a consequence for throwing food, plates, cups or silverware off the dinner table. This has drastically reduced the number of things we need to pick up during and after dinner. Second, Gwen has spontaneously started looking out for Teddy. If she gets a snack then she will say “Teddy?” and reach out her other hand to get a portion for him as well. Then she will deliver it to him before she eats. It’s remarkable to watch, especially at this age.

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