Mommy Lesson #35: All food is baby food

Even dog food. Ok, I have not been intentionally feeding my child dog food…put down the phone, DHS does not need to be notified. What I mean is, in Baby Girl’s mind, anything anyone eats is good for her to eat. Combine that fact with Charlotte’s fascination with all things Elphie, and this was bound to happen sooner or later.

Let me explain. Our cute, cuddly “dorkie” (part dachshund, part yorkie) Elphie is a wonderful dog. She likes to play, but spends most of her day sleeping on whatever blanket or lap is available. She very rarely ever barks, and the only things she’s ever torn up are cardboard boxes (well, that and the ears off the animals in Charlotte’s Little People nativity set). She is great with Charlotte-not so much as a nip when Little Britches got a hold of the dog’s whiskers and yanked. But, like all of us, Elphie does have some quirks. She doesn’t like to go outside unless someone stands at the door the whole time. She likes to expend energy by running in circles around the ottoman in the living room as fast as she possible can. Her most annoying habit by far is her refusal to eat her food out of her bowl. She prefers instead to carry it into the living room (or wherever we happen to be) a mouthful at a time and eat it near us. Worse, she often leaves pieces of food lying around the house, saving them for a snack later or in case we forget to feed her.

Here’s Charlotte playing with Elphie’s tug-of-war rope while the poor dog looks on

Enter Charlotte. As I’ve said before, Elphie is by far Baby Girl’s favorite source of entertainment. She thinks the dog is the funniest thing she’s ever seen. The child also would much rather play with one of Elphie’s three toys than the dozens she usually has scattered around her. In fact, I’m pretty sure the motivating factor behind her learning to army crawl was one of Elphie toys. Anyway, the other day I was sitting in my chair watching Downton Abbey while Charlotte played on the floor. I glanced over at her and noticed she seemed to be chewing on something. I couldn’t tell if she had something in her mouth, or if she was just smacking her lips as she has recently learned how to do (thanks Poppy). I decided to investigate. Charlotte did not appreciate me digging my finger into her mouth, and protested even more loudly when I pulled out the “treat” she had been gumming. At first I couldn’t tell what this soggy brown lump was. Then, as I watched Elphie drop a mouthful of food in front of the TV and begin eating, the truth hit. With horror, I realized my sweet child had just picked up and eaten a piece of dog food.

I didn’t panic. Nothing on the dog food list of ingredients seemed terribly alarming, so I just gave her a drink and some mum-mums and tried to forget about it. Of course I couldn’t forget. All I could do was picture her sucking on Elphie’s food. Ugh. What do I do? Should I start feeding the dog outside? Maybe put her in some sort of pen? Follow her around while she eats, picking up any and all stray pieces? How can I possibly keep Charlotte from repeating this lovely incident? I still haven’t figured it out (I’m open to suggestions) and am sorry to say that I think it just happened again, right before I put her down for a nap. I’m choosing to believe that brown gunk on her cheek was a booger.

I’ve been trying to figure out what the underlying Mommy Lesson is within this little incident. I think it’s control, or the lack thereof. I don’t know about you, but I have serious control issues. I thought I had a handle on them, but this whole motherhood thing has uncovered depths of my desire for control that I never knew existed. At the same time, being a mom reminds me daily that I have no control whatsoever. I can set a routine and make conditions as favorable as possible, but just as you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink, you can put a baby to bed but you can’t make her sleep.

I’ve also been swamped by a wave of mommy guilt. What kind of a mother lets her child eat dog food? And yet I just have to laugh and shake my head and realize that I cannot control everything Sweetness puts in her mouth. Heck, I can’t even force her to eat the mixed veggies we tried last night, with much gagging and pushing away of the spoon (don’t worry, we’ll keep trying). I guess the point is that I can do my best to give my daughter what she needs, and to keep her away from what she shouldn’t have, but in the end it’s completely out of my hands. I’m so thankful that I know whose hands it’s in. Isn’t it a relief to know that our heavenly Father has it under control, so we don’t have to? An obvious and simple lesson, but one that I find myself having to learn over and over again.
How has God taught you that you aren’t in control, but He is?

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