The battle with children at the dinner table

Published 8:59 am Tuesday, July 5, 2011

We’re starting a new tradition in our household.
My children are the little frontier people who are beginning this movement. They are forging the way for other generations and taking over mealtimes at my dinner table. It is the tradition of “I will eat what I want to eat and when I want to eat it… and you can’t make me because what I’m looking at on my plate is yuck!”
I’m still searching for a shorter label to slap on this new tradition.
I say new, but I’m guessing this daily occurrence has been around for years, centuries, possibly since the beginning of mankind. I have a hunch that Adam and Eve stumbled over the forbidden fruit in hopes of looking for something to get their kids to eat. George Washington was probably sent out to chop down the cherry tree for not eating his dinner that night. We’ll never know, but it’s an educated hunch.
Though I’m sure every family goes through this to some extent, I for one don’t recall turning down food in my youth. I have always eaten my fair share and still do to this day. Okay, except for the many times I was presented with meatloaf; a big glob of meat compacted together with who knows what.  The only saving grace I had was the opportunity to slather on ketchup to mask what I was eating.
My kids share my sentiments and follow in my footsteps.
There was always meat with fat in it also. I wouldn’t touch it if that meat was the one obstacle between me and impending death. A near death experience is what would take place if one tried to chew one of those pieces of meat. Each chunk was carefully inspected, handled, and then the debate ensued as to whether I was allowed to dispatch that specific piece of meat.
My kids have that one down pat also.
If there is any fat within approximately 9/16 of an inch away from a perfectly good piece of meat, it is officially non-edible. It is then strategically pushed around on the plate in a pinwheel type motion; all food spaced out enough to make it look as if it was indeed eaten.
Vegetables definitely weren’t my favorite, now that I think of it. Anything good for me or non-fried was on the “gag-me” list. There were many nights that I was the last man sitting at the table after refusing to eat my healthy veggies still cold and lingering on my plate. It was a lonely existence some nights.
Yes, my kids share those same tactics.
Force-feeding a 9-year-old boy a carrot is not my idea of a peaceful dinner.
He’s quite outgrown both the choo-choo-train and the plane coming in for a landing. Nor is it a treat trying to cover up (lie about) the onions I cook with in order for consumption to occur with my daughter. There is always the promise of “I’ll eat it tomorrow for lunch,” or “just one more piece and let me get down,” or my personal favorite, “My stomach hurts and I can’t eat anything, can I get down?”
My favorite comeback, of course, is “Do you want some ice cream instead?”
Let me just say, I have an undefeated record with that one. Dessert always brings out the hunger in kids. Children across the land have a firm belief that all sweets should be good for you. Ice cream and cookies should be a staple of our diet. I hear the argument weekly.
If you are what you eat, I couldn’t say what my kids would be. I don’t know how kids (or parents) survive through this eating dilemma.
Our kids can eat us out of house and home or they can scarcely eat for days. Yet they have more energy than both my wife and I on any given day.
It will all be worth it in the end. The force feeding and arguing over eating our meals will ultimately result in our kids eating what is on their plate no matter what.
I may never see that day at the rate I’m going, but the seeds must be sown!

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