You know, when I was a little kid, I had NO input into dinner time. The rules were that we just ate whatever our mum cooked and that was it. No deals, no complaining. Although I hated it at the time (ugh, especially when it was chicken drumsticks. VOMIT!) now that I’m a mum, I’m actually pretty damn impressed with my parent’s style at the dinner table. They gave zero fucks about whether we wanted brussel sprouts or not and we were better for it.
Dinner time in my house is a nightmare like I’d never imagined. My daughter is a pretty good eater now but my son, my God, my son makes me want to stick my fork into my eye every single night. Here’s a little rundown on dinner time at my place…
LUCA: “Mum, what are we having for dinner?”
ME: (In an upbeat, excited tone) “Um, fried rice!”
LUCA: (Screaming) “WHAAAAT???? Fried rice!?!?!! I HATE fried rice. It’s so disgusting. I’M NOT EATING THAT.”
ME: (Trying to sound casual but with a hint of fear in my voice) “Well, that’s what I’ve made and that’s what we’re having. You’ll love it, it’s so yum. Plus, you’ll get five points on your reward chart.”
By the time dinner hits the table, he’s rolling around on the floorboards like he’s been shot or something. Crying. Screaming. Declaring his hatred for fried rice. This could very possibly (and often does) continue right through dinner time. We try to ignore him, we really do, but there’s something about a kid who is under your feet, screaming at the top of his lungs that your fried rice is equal to a plate of dog food that really gets under your skin after a while. When – and if – he caves, he hops up, takes one bite, chews about three times (with his front teeth only so he looks like an infuriating rabbit), spits it out and then gets back down on the floor to continue with his favourite chant, “I hate fried rice.” Tomorrow’s will surely be “I hate pasta,” followed by “I hate steak”. It’s a greatest hits album of fucking parental agony that no one in their right minds would want to listen to.
In the past, I’ve waited until after we’ve all finished and given him something else that he will eat (like toast) because he is just so tiny that I’m scared to send him to bed without food. I know, I know, this has made things extra tricky for me, but seeing as I can see 97% of his bones poking through his skin, I get worried that he’ll start fading away before my eyes.
This can’t just be happening to me, can it? I mean, when he was a baby, even a toddler, he’d eat what he was given. It wasn’t until he turned four that he really starting busting our dinner time chops, which makes it two years and counting.
If you’ve got a kid who is a pain in the arse at meal times, here are some tips from Emily Dupuche, author of Food Babies Love. Like my mum, she’s no-nonsense when it comes to feeding your kids, but sometimes I think that might be the way to go. Here are her top tips to get your kid chowing down on food like a champ, minus the tantrum.
Good luck and may the food force be with you.