I'm having some really frustrating meal time issues with my DS, who turned two in September. It seems like he lives for creating chaotic meals for my family. Dinner is the worst - tonight, for example, it was one piece of flung food after another, one mouth full of chewed up food spat across the table on to DD's plate, constant getting up and climbing up on the other kids' laps and stealing from their plates (not to eat, but to throw), me trying in vain to distract him while still managing to eat dinner, etc. It's been going on for months, and is making me hate dinner time.
Some of the background to help with suggestions -
He is mostly non-verbal. Sometimes he seems to understand everything I say, other times nothing. It's hard to know how much he understands, how much he doesn't understand, and how much he understands that he finds it convenient to tune out. I'm pretty sure he knows he's causing chaos, and he seems to be having a grand time doing it
He also doesn't eat much. He was a late solids eater, and has never really taken to them. While somedays he will eat like a horse, he generally is more bird like. He's not really picky, but he will usually only eat very small amounts of foods at a time. He is also, as I mentioned above, fond of chewing food and spitting it out. I honestly don't really care if he eats or not - I try to be pretty "eat it or don't" about food, especially since my oldest son has sensory issues that restrict his diet - My goal is not to get DS2 to eat more, or even to stay at the table. I would be perfectly find if he drive by ate (Like, of I put a plate out for him at dinner and he ate a bite or two and was off, and came back for more if he wanted it).
We don't use a high chair for him, because he would scream the whole time he is in it. I would be fine with him not being in a highchair, if not for the taking other people's food and throwing it issue.
I am generally the only parent home at meal times, so I can't have dh entertain him while I eat with the big kids and then switch off. That would be ideal, but it only works on dh's days off, and even then he gravitates to the people with the food.
If I only give him one small bit a food at a time, he climbs up and steals other people's food to throw.
If I try to hold him on my lap during meals, he tantrums.
He won't be distracted by anything else during meal time that I can find. I've even tried Elmo, so help me God! If we're at the table eating, he wan'ts to be there to, which I understand. I just want him not to torment us. I can't even give him water at meals, because he spits it like a water cannon at the other kids (and me!) and the plates of food.
So, any ideas?