One night, The Boy ate an entire serving of peas one a time. Pea. By. Pea. He delicately picked each out of the bowl, considered it for a moment and then popped it into his mouth. Cutest and cleanest meal ever.
Sadly, this is not his normal eating technique, which might best be described as the grab-and-cram. He grabs as much as his fat little hands can hold and then crams his fist to his mouth, eating whatever makes it inside. Lovely. The method is messy but effective and, as I've told Michelle, The Boy's feeding himself is one of the best things that's happened to us this year. Seriously, I can eat a meal now without bobbling a boy on my lap and spilling food on his head. I don't have to alternate feeding me with feeding him. I don't accidentally shovel mashed peas into my mouth. Ignoring the mess around his highchair is easy when I can have a conversation with my husband again over dinner. Feeding independence scared my mother-in-law, who saw a choking hazard with every fistful -- The Boy went into full-on meltdown mode last week when she limited him to one goldfish at a time -- but it works for us.
And last night, we got the scoop-and-shove, a new and promising twist on the grab-and-cram. Yes, that's right. The Boy managed to scoop black beans into his little toddler spoon and shove said spoon into his mouth. Needless to say, he got applause and a YAY BOY! for his efforts, which were then repeated. Repeated, people.
This is not the first time he's managed this feat, however, it is the first time it's been intentional. Also, The Boy insisted last night that I fix myself a plate before he got to the business of scooping and shoving. I swear. He's learned to point -- quite imperiously, I might add -- and repeatedly pointed to me and the table when I tried to let him eat alone so I could have dinner later with the husband.
My momma's heart swooned a little.
I have brought The Boy to the table for almost every meal over the last 11 months. I have given my in-laws dirty looks when they suggested I leave MY table with my colicky baby. I have walked him in restaurant parking lots and juggled him on my knees at friends' houses. I wanted him to learn eating was a social activity for which there were rules. And he seems to get that. Hooray! In just a few months, The Boy has gone from gnawing on his silverware to poking his food with the wrong end or scooting it with the right end to scooping and spearing it -- AND navigating it to his mouth. He still needs to be hosed off most nights after dinner and we do get the occasional dinnertime squawk, but at least he gets it.
So, how are you teaching table manners? How did you learn your manners?