If you’re a mother (or father) those very words could send you running for the hills. They could send a darkening shiver of despair throughout your shaking body. Those words make you want to scream and throw in your invisible “mommy” apron and throw a tantrum much like your toddler’s. Meal time.
Is your anxiety rising yet?
Meal time is my least favorite part of the day, specifically dinner.
Its not that I don’t enjoy sitting down with my children for a meal,
nice conversation, and cute preschool-age jokes.
Lets try that again.
Its not that I don’t enjoy sitting down with my children for a meal.
If thats what you’d like to call it.
We eat dinner at our house around 7pm. Why so late?
Any earlier, and my four year old would be too busy bouncing off the walls to sit in her chair long enough to consume two bites of the food that she swore she liked four hours earlier, but now makes her nauseous. 7pm is the perfect time for my children, because at that point, they are all tired enough to not fight me when I suggest for the 46th time they take a bite of their corn that has been sitting so long its beginning to congeal. They are finally tired enough to where my two year old doesn’t have the urge to paint herself with her spoon. But the truth is that they mostly blatantly refuse to eat their dinner no matter what time I serve it to them.
Now, don’t get me wrong. We all eat healthily. We are an organic vegetarian family, and we don’t ever have junk food in our house. My children eat vegetables and fruit galore all day long, drink plenty of water, and never consume fast food.
But I swear, there is something in that dusk air that makes my children develop an allergy to any food served in the evening.
As an example, my oldest’s favorite meal is spaghetti, and the other two seem to like it as well. So I go out of my way to make it healthy for them. I use vegan noodles made from vegetables. I use (or make) a vegan sauce. I use a vegetable-based meat substitute for flavor and protein. They have always loved it.
But the other night, after spending over an hour preparing said meal, I gathered up the kids at the table, and served them their plates with steaming, delicious spaghetti. They looked excited, and I was finally feeling like I had succeeded once more in making a meal that everyone would eat and enjoy. “No complaining tonight!” I thought. Well, It was a nice thought while it lasted. A parent can dream, right? I sat down with my plate (stupidly thinking that I would be able to sit and eat with them instead of after everyone had gone to bed) and was about to take a bite.
But just then, my oldest took one bite in her mouth, and immediately scowled. She basically choked it down, and then asked me “What is this stuff made from?!”
She looked at me like I was trying to poison her.
I answered with “What do you mean? Its the same way you always eat spaghetti.”
She said “No, I mean the red stuff! What is it?!”
Okay, now I honestly think in that moment, smoke was pouring from my ears. The red stuff?! Seriously?
“Lily, thats the tomato sauce. The same sauce you have always eaten!” I exclaimed.
“Oh, really?” She paused, looked at her plate, and then looked back at me.
“Well I don’t like tomatoes. I thought you knew that already.” she said.
I was fuming, but trying to remain calm. I tried to make her stay at the table. I tried to make her eat a few bites of the terrible tomato sauce that she has loved for years. But any parent knows exactly how difficult that task is. Forcing your kids to eat? Ha.
So she left the table and refused anything else I offered. I tried disciplining, and after a few moments of desperation, I tried bribing her with a piece of candy I happened to have. No luck.
I decided to leave my other two kids to finish their dinner while I got her ready for bed.
A few moments later, I walked downstairs to find that same terrible sauce slathered all over my two year old, the table, her chair, and her booster seat. She looked at me, excited that I had returned, and said “Mommy, I am FUULL! I love that sketty-sauce!” while my nine month old giggled and cheered her on from his high chair.
This, my friends, is why dinner time is the absolute worst.