It's Not His Fault Kate

Last night Cooper refused to eat dinner. (What’s new, right?) There was kicking, screaming, head hitting, throwing, etc. The whole ordeal lasted a little over an hour. I got it into my head that this kid was taking one bite of pasta. And I wasn’t giving up.

After the first time-out Cooper took a bite. And then pulled out the gagging. And spit it out.

He shoved his plate, threw his fork, dumped out his milk, and dropped a few handfuls of pasta on the floor.

I went about my business picking up as he thrashed and kicked. Once he calmed down we tried bite number two. Again, the gagging and spitting.

Next came some hitting and kicking and then a short second time-out.

The whole time Jamie and Sawyer were watching this shit show from the living room. Not to mention the windows were open so I can only assume the neighbors had social services on the phone.

I was progressively getting more frustrated. I think I even started repeating the words “one F-ing bite kid.”

And then Jamie looked at me and said, “it’s not his fault Kate.”

I was speechless. I sat down at the table and thought, “is that what people think? Do you they think I blame him? Is that possible?

It’s a constant struggle between expecting more from Cooper and not wanting to expect too much.

Honestly, one f-ing bite. One. That’s all I wanted. And it took 60 minutes and tears and timeouts. But I had to do it. I can’t give up. I still have to set goals for him. They may be small but they still need to be there.

I eventually got the one bite down Cooper and off we went to play outside.

I know it’s not his fault. And I’m not mad because I think it’s his fault. I’m mad because it’s so unbelievably hard. And nothing is ever easy. And I’m not the perfect patient mother. And between Jamie and I, one of us ALWAYS has to be on. And that’s exhausting.

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Kate Swenson

Kate Swenson lives in Minnesota with her husband Jamie, and four children, Cooper, Sawyer, Harbor and Wynnie. Kate launched Finding Cooper's Voice from her couch while her now 11-year-old son Cooper was being diagnosed with autism. Back then it was a place to write. Today it is a living, thriving community of people who want to not only advocate for autism, but also make the world a better place for individuals with disabilities and their families. Her first book, Forever Boy, will be released, April 5, 2022.

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  1. The Vanilla Housewife on June 27, 2014 at 3:45 am

    Hugs! I don’t know if this will help but I always tell myself it will get better. If not, we’ll get used to it and will know better along the road. And we will love them all the more.

  2. gingerjac on June 27, 2014 at 7:57 am

    Sounds like dinner time at my house every night for the past few weeks… I’m not even getting a bite though until I give in and give a banana or yogurt. Sigh… My toddler doesn’t have any developmental issues either, I think it’s just a toddler thing!! I actually read on one site that an idea is to give the yogurt/dessert alongside the dinner but doesn’t work for us!! Hopefully it’s just a (long) stage, but just wanted to let you know you’re not alone in this struggle!!

    • Avatar photo findingcoopersvoice on July 2, 2014 at 8:19 pm

      Thanks! Dinner time is crazy at our house. Way worse than the other meals. And, Cooper even eats his snacks at the table. There is just something about dinner time I guess.

  3. Rowan on June 27, 2014 at 8:52 am

    Hi Kate,
    My 2 cents worth is to pick a different goal. Food is emotive and loaded with sensory barriers to overcome. Do your best and give him vitamins if you’re worried about nutrition. You can’t make a person like something through time outs, it’s just not a battle you are going to win. Perhaps the goal is sitting nicly at the table while eating something he likes or using a utensil instead of fingers. Whatever it is, make it skill based and let the dinner thing go. I sometimes switch meals around so Piper has pasta for lunch and cereal for dinner. Or we have pancakes and fruit. What foods does he like to eat? Keep it easy going and save your sanity! Xx

  4. This Ability Of Mine on June 29, 2014 at 4:07 am

    You’re doing great! Hang in there! It will get easier but you’re doing the right thing!