What’s for Dinner?

I came across a parenting article recently and even though my kids are older, with diapers and daily tantrums over “tie” vs “velcro” shoes a thing of the past, I was curious, so I took the time to check it out.  Actually, I found this particular piece of child-rearing commentary on the same mom advice blog that I’ve brought up before, the one that decries “mommy shaming” yet mom-shames religiously.

This new wave of helpful hints was about dealing with “picky eaters.” The writer’s solution? Let the kids choose. Sounds simple, right? Turns out it is simple. Basically, as the mother (or I guess, father…this article happened to be directed at moms), you fix whatever dinner you want and if the kids don’t want to eat it, fine. In fact, you start out the meal with the announcement that “eat or it not, it’s up to you.” Having no punishment for abstaining from any of the foods presented is the key here. Further, rejecting the main meal does not preclude being given dessert. Dessert is a given.

Now, this is all fine and good for kids who might eat “something.” But what about kids who won’t eat anything? My daughter is just that kind of kid. Not so much now that she’s older, but when she was little? Oh boy.  She took picky eating to a whole new level. There could have been a buffet in front of her – a veritable feast – and she would decide for whatever reason that she liked none of it and simply would not eat. No, that tastes funny. That’s brown or green or yellow. That’s slimy. It’s got onions in it. I don’t like gravy. Or my all-time favorite, a simplistic “Ewww.”

Or what about the kid who will eat dessert (since that can’t be withheld) and nothing else?  I can easily envision my kids, when they were young, having dessert every night for dinner – if it were available.  Hell, I would too if I had those rules. Come on! Who wouldn’t?

Force feeding kids by making them sit at the table until they eat something doesn’t work either. Been there, done that. On both sides of the table. I remember sitting at the table in an ever-escalating series of “battles of wills” with my mother over some vegetable or another. I recall a particularly long evening spent at the table brought about by Brussels sprouts. It wasn’t fun for me and I can’t imagine that it was a great time for my mother either. I’m sure she had better things to do than deal with my mulish dinner habits. Sorry, Mom. My kids inherited that same stubborn behavior willpower.

My son took it even further. I mean, of course he did. Why wouldn’t he? The curse my mother flung at me all those years ago worked. Like gangbusters it worked. I now have kids who act just like I acted. In case I haven’t said it lately, thanks for that, Mom. When my handsome, intelligent, ever-so-charming son was about five or so, he threatened that if I insisted he “eat those stupid peas already,” he would throw them back up. And. He. Did. Ahhh…memories. Hey, he gave fair warning. He still won’t eat peas and the boy is 24 years old.

I suppose we could just live by the old adage “oh, they’ll eat when they’re hungry” as they forego their mid-day and evening meals night after night. Indeed, that’s what this suggested routine seems to be, just done in a nicer way. I imagine the success of such a campaign all depends on the temperament of the child and just how hungry they’re willing to be to prove a point.

The thing is, you can’t force kids to eat. You can’t force them to sleep. It’s the two things really, besides bathroom habits, that they ultimately do have control over. Unless you’re a monster who literally force feeds your kids as they’re tied to a chair. But if you’re a normal human being, you can lead them to the table, but you can’t make them eat.  Threaten, cajole, humor, and beg…but you can’t really MAKE them. They choose to give in, or not. Same with sleep – you can put them to bed and order them to sleep, but only they can really make that happen.

I guess I was never overly finicky about what we had for dinner…I didn’t care if my kids ate hotdogs with mac and cheese while I ate the eggplant parm that I liked. I didn’t mind if we had home-made chicken nuggets (à la Chick-Fi-La, but my own recipe, which is healthier) three times a week. That tuna casserole they both love? Sure! Why not?

It’s different now that I’ve cut out the majority of meat for myself, but hey, the kids are old enough to feed themselves now, so I don’t really care…they’re on their own. But when they were little, I decided after a while that dinner time was simply not a battle I particularly felt like fighting. Of course, this decision might’ve taken place right after the “peas fiasco of 1997,” but it’s a solid decision nonetheless.

I also knew my kids were stubborn assholes strong-willed individuals who would go without food long enough that eventually social services would be called. So, dinner often had a kid-friendly menu in our house. Why deliberately put food on the table that you know someone won’t eat while hoping for the best? I didn’t really see this as catering to them – and still don’t – I view it as a way of enjoying the time we had together at the table. Instead of arguing or long, sullen silences, we had rousing talks about everything under the sun, jokes, and laughter, and joy. And everyone ate. I still make their favorites when we’re all together for a visit. But then, food has always been a big deal in our house, a way of bringing the family together. Meals are meant to be enjoyed, not fought over.

I figured – and rightly so – that they would branch out from hot dogs, mac and cheese, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and French fries prior to getting to college. Lo and behold, that’s exactly what happened. With the exception of very specific things like peas (go figure), mushrooms, onions, and sushi (can’t blame them there), they eat quite a variety of foodstuffs these days. Truth be told, they’re a lot more adventurous in trying new foods than me, I must say.

I suppose the idea presented in the article would work for some families…I mean hey, it worked for the writer, right? But if it were MY house? I would have had two children with amazingly high blood sugar from all the dessert they were stuffing themselves with and tons of uneaten leftovers cluttering up the fridge.

Happy Anniversary to Me!

So it’s my two-year anniversary of writing this blog…wow. It’s sort of flown by and sort of inched by all at the same time. But then, the year outside of the blog has been like that as well. Writing these posts has been fun and cathartic, I know that. I’ve enjoyed having the opportunity to do something that’s “mine” and to let my creative side come out. And trying to empty my brain of at least a few of these incessant flitting, unsupervised thoughts is probably a good thing too.

My friend Anne over at Minimalist Sometimes joined WordPress at the same time I did and that’s how we “met.” Liking each others’ blogs. She wrote a kick-ass post for her anniversary birthday this year. She’s clever like that. You should check it out.

I, on the other hand couldn’t come up with anything clever or eloquent or philosophical to say. So I’ll simply say this again because it just seems so decidedly apropos (there’s my 50 cent word for the day, Mom).

To my vast, loyal minions, fans, readers, I say thank you so much for taking the time to read my work – I hope you’ve enjoyed the meandering adventure so far and will stick around for more of my short attention span theater.

To the newcomers and visitors: “straight-jackets are on the left, meds are on the right, and keep your hands off my crayons.”

My Issues With Horses

So when I made my post about Misplaced Rage the other day, my dear friend MomDude over at We Love the Stars Too Fondly made his dislike of horses quite clear. I was quite anxious to hear the story behind this aversion to the equine community and, as expected, his story did not fail to entertain or amuse. Anyone who rides horses will truly appreciate his fateful equestrian experience but everyone is sure to get a kick out of his teenage reminisces, so I had to share for mutual enjoyment. For me, it was a laugh out loud read, for which I felt an untold amount of guilt.  Sort of.

We Love The Stars Too Fondly

One thing this site has brought me is some good friends who I have never met in person. One such would be the lovely woman who writes the “Musings From A Tangled Mind” blog. (It’s wonderful, you should subscribe and read regularly.)

The other day she posted this, I went and made some smartass comment (as is my wont), she responded with a goofy answer, and we went back and forth (see the comments section on her post), I ended up saying, “I’ve got some old issues with horses…” and she ended up saying, “I can tell. LOL 😀 You should tell that story too. Cause now I’m curious.”

Ok, I can tell this story half asleep (the first full week at the new job has been wonderful, but the days are long and my sleep is short), so here’s one for you, Wendy:

I was maybe…

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Happy Anniversary to Me!

So it’s my one year anniversary writing this blog.

To my vast, loyal minions fans, readers I say thank you so much for taking the time to read my work, I hope you’ve enjoyed the meandering adventure so far and will stick around for more of my short attention span theater.

To the newcomers and visitors: straight-jackets are on the left, meds are to the right, and keep your hands off my crayons.