There’s a lot about three-and-a-half that will drive you crazy. The endless drama. The saucy talk. The being-contrary-because-I-can. The endless WHYs and the random HOWs. And there are days when I think THREE = NOT MY FAVOURITE.
But then, to remind you of how cool this age can be, you have days like today.
My child, with her speech delays and oral motor issues, can be a challenge even without all the three-and-a-half stuff going on. Even being her most pleasant, sweetest, funniest self, spending an hour and a half on a meal can drive you mental. Telling her not to do something and having her immediately go right ahead and do it because she had NO IDEA WHAT YOU SAID can make even the most patient parent lose it.
But today, that stuff was not in the house. She was almost, ALMOST, like what I know children of her age to be. And it was lovely.
With her extremely limited food options and incapacity to cope with new foods, when she a) says she wants to try to eat something, and 2) says she likes it and wants more, you learn to go with it. So, today we did.
For New Years, we bought some assorted sweets from the grocery store bakery. We had leftovers the next day that we put out on a tray, and as a matter of habit, as I do with anything new, I asked Stinkerbelle if she would like to try a cookie. It was a macaroon, dipped in a little chocolate.
I thought no way, there’s no way she’s going to want to try it, and certainly if she does there’s no way she’s going to be able to cope with the stickiness and the chewiness and the texture of strands of coconut.
She tried it. She liked it.
SHE ATE THREE.
So I was all DUDE YOU LIKE THESE? WE WILL HAVE THEM ALL. THE. TIME.
So I got out a cookbook and found a recipe for macaroons. And I said to her today, we will make some of those cookies. My kid loves the mixer, and loves to participate in baking. So I thought we’d run to the grocery store, get what we needed for the week and for the macaroons, and then we’d do a little baking together.
It was the only time I have ever seen my child be impatient at the store (other than when she’s sick). She LOVES the grocery store and talking to everyone and being out and about. But not today. Today she was all about going home and making cookies. All through the store she politely complained that it was time to go home. And she told anyone she encountered that we had to go home and use the mixer.
So we did.
We came home, and got everything ready. (The recipe for macaroons is so simple, it doesn’t need a mixer — it can be done easily with a spoon and a bowl. So I had to promise we’d make something else after naptime.) And I cannot tell you the pleasure I took from the simple act of making these cookies. Standing there in my kitchen with That Girl on a chair beside the counter, letting her pour ingredients in and stir things. Squatting down together in front of the oven to watch as cookies bake. Having the give and take of a conversation in which she understands what is going on, and can identify things and sounds and tastes.
And the best part of all, having her sit at the table and eat something we baked. Actually ENJOY it. No complaining, no resisting, no flailing, no crying. Just eating and enjoying.
It was lovely.
Sure, she flung (flinged? flang?) coconut all over the counter with her spoon. And sure, she knocked a glass of orange juice everywhere in her excitement. But those are things you expect when cooking and eating with a three year old.
It’s when you make things time and time and time again, and offer them to her, and have her reject them out of hand, that it begins to get a bit wearing. It’s when you find yourself making three separate meals sometimes so that everyone in the house is happy that it’s a challenge. It’s when you have a very limited number of options of what she will eat and you worry about how to get more nutrition into her diet that it gets challenging. It’s when you realize that she has never eaten a fresh uncooked vegetable, or never eaten an apple, or most other fresh fruit, and that it’s been days since you can remember if she has eaten vegetables in her meals that you begin to feel like a failure. And you wonder if she will ever, ever be like other kids, or if it will always be a struggle.
So the simple act of making something together and happily eating what we made can seem huge. Monumental. It makes for a really good day.
And the bonus? Finding one more way my kid is like me — liking coconut — one more thing we share, is so much fun. As an adoptive parent, you get used to the idea that your kid is not like you, biologically, so you can’t say “we have the same eyes/nose/toes/whatever”. So you find ways in which you ARE alike and celebrate the hell out of them.
There are going to be a lot of macaroons in our future. That’s good. The future is looking bright. And sticky. And chewy.