Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Waiting to Eat

Our youngest gets cranky-hungry about 30 minutes before I serve dinner.  I used to spread food on his tray and then let him continue to eat until dinner was served.  I usually put a few extra finger foods on his tray while we prayed to keep him quiet. Then I read a short blurb about a 15-month old who waits patiently to eat until the family has prayed.  Hmm, got me to thinking.  Then I saw a show where a French family's young children sat patiently waiting to eat dinner until everyone was served.  Was I underestimating the abilities of my kids?
So, I started by giving my 13-month old a snack a little early to keep him happy while I cooked, but then took him out of his high chair for a few minutes until dinner was actually served.  Then, when we all sat down, and he was in his high chair, I waited to give him food until after we had prayed.  We hold hands when we pray, and so I held his hand as well.  His brother tried to hold his other hand, but that didn't go over very well.  Little Man was not quiet, wouldn't hold hands, and was a bit disruptive.  But, guess what?  After about a week, he caught on.
Now, once everyone is sitting at the table, he holds out his hands to the people on either side of him.  He is quiet throughout the prayer.  Though, as soon as we say Amen, he's pointing at his food and grunting emphatically.
The other day, my family was here for a holiday weekend.  At dinner, Little Man was waiting patiently for everyone to sit and pray.  As soon as I sat down (that's usually the cue that we're ready to pray), he held out his hands.  My dad offered his finger, thinking it would be easier for the little hand to grab.  Little Man cocks his head to the side, opens up Grandpa's hand and turns it so he can place his little hand into Grandpa's big hand.  How cute is that?
So, all that goes to say, you CAN teach even your littlest ones to wait to eat for a few minutes until the prayer is said.  Oh, me of little faith.  I had my doubts, and they were proved wrong.  Never underestimate the capabilities of your kids.  They do what you expect of them.   If you expect that they won't sit at the table to eat, they won't.  If you expect them to sit at the table while they eat, they will.
I had bought into our society's expectations that a toddler can't sit still.   I wonder, do I have any other low expectations that my kids could exceed?
I challenge you (and myself) to think of your expectations of your kids' behavior.  If you raise those expectations, will your kids (and mine) meet them?  I have a feeling we might be surprised at what our kids will live up to.