Montessori Baby

The author, trained as a Montessori primary teacher (AMI), documents and analyzes her efforts to raise a "Montessori" baby.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Intentional food spills: Too many choices?

Okay, fellow Montessorians. I understood it when he was 9 months old - dumping his juice on the floor, spilling his cheerios - then, it was an experiment. I guess now it's an experiment, too. It's just that this time, it's not about what happens to the cheerios, it's about my reaction.

This all started on Easter Sunday. Alex, our three year old, "spilled" his cereal on the floor. At first, we thought it was an accident - the byproduct of trying to carry his bowl from the dining room to the living room. But when the second bowl ended up on the same spot on the floor, we knew it wasn't a mistake. Our reaction was pretty dramatic - shock, followed sending Alex for some cooling out time in his room (more for me than him), followed by clean-up together that was not quite as matter-of-fact as we might have liked (maybe not enough cooling time?). The rest of the day was pretty much a disaster - between lots of limit testing and a delayed nap, we all felt pretty awful before it was all said and done.

Yesterday was a pretty normal day, so I had chalked up the intentional spilling to the excitement of Easter. But this morning it returned - after denying a request for a tuna fish sandwich, first cereal, then fruit, then juice went on the floor. Alex is now at school fairly hungry, and I'm setting out to do some hard thinking about what to do.

I wonder if the source of this new behavior is the culmination of a growing uncertainty about our food "policy." I've thought about why I denied the sandwich request in the first place, and I think it was because the request seemed like part of a larger issue.

As Alex has grown, we have made more food choices available to him. There are generally two or three dry snacks available in the cupboard (goldfish, a granola bar) and two or three perishable snacks on his shelf in the fridge (yogurt, a cheese stick, fruit). Two kinds of cereal are also available for breakfast, although lately Alex has been asking one of us to pour a different kind of cereal for him or has wanted something else altogether for breakfast. Snacking has become an issue, too. We've been fielding requests after dinner, which I don't particularly like. I think it's likely that we're offering too many choices, and it's time to get clear about what the food policy is. So...

Breakfast is self-serve. There are two kinds of cereal, and a glass of orange juice.
On non-school days, there will be a snack available between breakfast and lunch. Self-serve.
Mom makes lunch.
There will be one snack post-nap.
Mom makes dinner.
There is one small Easter treat after dinner. (I could write a whole separate post about treats)
Bedtime snack will be served during Curious George time.

I will try to coolly handle spills - clean up, and no more of that food. What seems tricky here is the difference between intentional and unintentional spills...any thoughts?

We'll see how this works. I'm open to suggestions!