Parenting, I am quickly finding out, involves a fair amount of trickery and deception. This doesn’t surprise me entirely, but what is a revelation is how much I am trying to trick the Little Mister while he is so young.
I understand the benefits of a little trickery. I believed in the tooth fairy. I remember her making me feel better about having a mouth full of blood and searing pain when I pulled a tooth out with the hook of a French knitting doll. A very dear friend believed for years that if she cracked the bottom of the egg with her spoon, she’d set the fairies free. It meant she ate her soft-boiled eggs.
But poor Milin, who doesn’t know any better or anything other than pure instinct, is already being tricked by me. Or at least I’m trying. A lot of the time, he is too clever and doesn’t fall for my little deceptions.
The formula in the bottle trick is taking it’s time, but we’re getting there. We’ve tried mixing formula with expressed milk, and we’ve tried putting expressed milk on the bottle so he thinks it’s formula inside. He’s not been fooled easily. He may have finally given in to taking formula bottles from Tony, but that’s not because the trickery worked. It’s because he’s figured out that if I’m not home, he’s going to starve unless he drinks from the bottle he’s being offered.
Our next trick is trying to get Milin to eat real food. On Plunket’s advice, because he has clearly developed an aversion to spoons, we are taking a week off trying solids. I’m relieved, because the daily battle was stressful for everyone. But, while we’re not sitting him at his high chair and trying to force puree down his throat, we are still working on the food goal.
Working from the supposition that Milin loves putting things in his mouth, we have started giving him rusks – and yes, he seems pretty happy to gnaw away at them. We’re also giving him spoons to play with. As in, the spoons are your friends.
He knows they’re not though. They don’t make a noise, they don’t have lots of bright colours and different textures or smiley faces to them. He’s onto me. And whatever way I look at it, (whether I believe it’s ultimately for his own good, or whether I think doing this will make it quicker for him to learn how to feed himself), it’s deception. It’s me trying to pull the wool over his eyes, so that when I try another bowl of pureed pear at the end of the week, he hopefully won’t scream as soon as he sees the spoon coming towards him.
Perhaps there is a time and a place for a little trickery. It doesn’t sit quite right with me though. And may that’s because I can’t see where it will end. Spoons, tooth fairies – do they make our lives as parents a little simpler, or do they make the hard stuff a little bit easier to swallow for the little people who believe everything we tell them?