The Tale of Two Beasts


Two beasts have taken over Timmy. One beast is of my own making. The other is not.

toddler junkfood

Beast One: Sugar. (By the way, the image used here isn’t of Timmy. I used a generic stock-image-baby on purpose, in the hopes that with no visual evidence to convict me, I’d be judged a little bit less.)

I knew, even as I was doing it, that my ploys to quieten Timmy’s whinges would turn around and bite me in the bum one day. As I’d pass him a biscuit or a mini-muffin — which fits nicely in his little 1-year-old hand — I’d tell myself that I wouldn’t let this become a habit; I’d only do it this once. Only because I needed quiet time, and a treat snack would give it to me.

First they were wholemeal flour mini-muffins and un-iced biscuits. Then somehow without my noticing, they had turned into iced biscuits, M&Ms, cupcakes, and pieces of peanut slabs.

I know. I’m awful, and I brought the beast on myself. The tantrum beast who cannot be sated with fruit or sandwiches — even jam sandwiches, which are about 500% sugar anyway.

So now I find myself in awkward situations, come snack or mealtimes. Timmy will refuse anything approaching healthy. But then if I take the tough love approach, deciding to wait until he’s hungry enough to accept the non-sugar options, he’ll scream at me for not giving his belly what it wants right now right this very moment thank you very much.

He usually wins. Especially now that I have two small children — despite Daniel not having colic, he can still scream with the best of them. My brain simply can’t take prolonged screaming. So I pass the muffin. Or the biscuit. Or both. Or several of each. Then in the ensuing peace, I hate myself for it.

What have I done? I’ve made my metaphorical bed, is what. And now I must lie in it.

But how to undo it? I’m very familiar, myself, with the difficulties and downward spirals perpetuated by bad eating habits, and wouldn’t wish them on anybody — least of all my son. But I’m nurturing those habits for as long as I give him such a regular steady diet of sweet snacks. I don’t want to withhold treats from him all the time, but clearly I’ve let it get out of control. No longer ‘a treat’, they’ve become ‘the norm’ and ‘the expected.’

I expect life will be foul for the next…possibly ever, as this morning my husband and I made the decision to simply not have sugary treats available. For anybody. (That said, I’m allowed to continue having raw sugar in my coffee. I checked.) If I have no chocolate, I won’t be tempted to share it with Timmy just so I can get the rare quiet I’m always after. And once Timmy’s system gets used to not having regular doses of rubbish, he may (I hope) be more inclined to accept fruit snacks again.

The trouble is, without biscuits and muffins, I have very few snacks to offer — certainly nothing he’d accept. So right away, having made this new plan, Husband went out to the supermarket and came home with cans of fruit pieces big enough for Timmy to hold for himself. (Anything requiring us to feed it to him is also a doomed Fail. He’s a Mr Independent. Diced fruit salad just ends up on the floor.)

I wonder if giving him tinned fruit (which has usually been floating in sugary juice) is just as bad as the stuff I’m trying to wean him off of, but I need to do something. I need to start somewhere. And what else can I do? Fresh fruit will come later, when he won’t simply throw it away as it morphs into wasted cash notes in front of my eyes.

Processed sugar. That’s the first beast. The beast of my own making; my personal Frankenstein that has outgrown my control.

Beast Two: Conjunctivitis. I think this beast will be sticking around forever, because it turns out it’s not humanly possible to get eyedrops into Timmy’s eyes. And he hollers so dramatically when I try, I’m surprised CYFS haven’t turned up on my doorstep. (For you non-kiwi folk: Child, Youth and Family Services is a government agency with legal power to intervene when they suspect children are victims of abuse, or have the potential to be. What constitutes ‘abuse’ is undefined. CYFS are notorious for their break-up-a-family-first-and-ask-questions-later policy.)

On a bad day, Timmy needs his gunked-up eyelids that have been fused shut with dried grossness, wiped clear with a flannel. This is particularly frustrating when required overnight. On a good day, the discharge of grossness isn’t so abundant, but it’s nevertheless enough to require him to stay home from daycare — which then turns the good day into a bad day, as I lose my ‘weekend’. So far I haven’t managed to persuade him that if he’d only let the drops in, the eye gunk would finally leave.

One of these two beasts will finally slay me, given enough time. Maybe I should take bets as to which one. Then at least I’d have an inheritance to leave for my boys.


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