Saturday, November 03, 2007

the Dinner that Never Ended

Last night I made my chicken & sweet potato salad for dinner. It consists of chunks of grilled chicken, steamed sweet potatoes, avocados, & crumbled bacon in a mustardy vinaigrette on a bed of spinach. People seem to really like it. I get many requests to bring it to cook outs & pot lucks. Its good hot or cold. Adults & kids both eat it willingly. except my kids.

All I really ask of them is they at least taste the food they are given before rejecting it. One bite of the stuff, that is it. In this case that means you have to eat a bite sized chunk of chicken & sweet potato. 2 bites of food, that you have eaten in the past without issue. If it has become hideous to you in the 5-6 weeks since you last ate it then fine, you don't have to finish it & can go have a mini bagel or an apple. Is that too much? Am I horrible parent for expecting this? 2 freaking bites of good tasting food you have eaten before? My kids don't seem to have figured or or like the time honored kid traditions of smothering disagreeable food in ketchup or ranch dressing or using the whole glass of juice to wash down the unwanted stuff while chewing quickly. By the time I was Havoc's age I could swallow lima beans whole with one gulp of water.  I attribute my ability to swallow any size pill I am given to that early training.

Havoc eventually choked down the required bites, though each one took him well over 5 minutes to eat because he tucked in his cheek and wouldn't chew or swallow it until threatened with being served it for breakfast.

Mayhem never tried it. He just sat there saying "That's yuck." when asked to eat it, which got him moved to the time out chair for a few minutes & then back to the table and repeat. When told it would be his breakfast he said 'no it won't'. And nothing in his experience led him to believe otherwise. That threat had been made before & come to nothing because Daddy wasn't sufficiently frustrated to follow through the next morning. (Daddy does breakfast, which means pouring out the kid's cereal or toasting a waffle & then going back to bed for a half hour. He'd actually have to stay up if he followed through on the threat) Daddy seemed to have reached his point last night because the bowl was wrapped up & put in the fridge. Mayhem was given nothing else but a glass of watered juice.

This morning he asked for breakfast & was offered his dinner. He pitched a fit & ate nothing. At morning snack he said he was super hungry & asked for a PB sandwich & was again offered his dinner.  He was told that once he had eaten a bite of chicken & a bite of potato, he could have a PB sandwich or a waffle or whatever he wanted, but he had to eat those 2 bites first. He protested a bit, then said ok. But when faced with sweet potato on his fork he took a sniff, announced "that yuk!" and refused to eat it.  DH took the boys along on a small work expedition at a tower, he packed juice, snacks & Mayhem's dinner. He is going to take them to McD's for a late lunch when he is done, but Mayhem has to eat his 2 bites first.  I told him meatloaf was for dinner & he loves meatloaf & he isn't happy he's got to eat the 2 bites first.

How is this going to turn out? Which side will win? Why has it come to this? How did it come to this? I didn't set out for a battle of wills when I made dinner last night. All I wanted was something we all were likely to eat & involved the avocado that was perfectly ripe & had to be used right now. What am I teaching him, to eat the food he is given? That I am bigger than him & can make him do things? To try new things? Possibly for the rest of his life he will hate this meal because of the drama associated with it. To this day I won't eat frozen pizza because of a drama between me & my dad when I was 10 that resulted in my crying non stop while choking down 2 frozen slices.

We pick our battles, we try to keep them as few & far between as possible, but when we do choose to have them, we go to the mat. I can't imagine a good outcome to this. He isn't going to eat those 2 bites, decide they actually taste good & ask for more. We can't back down because you undermine yourself if you do that. Don't issue ultimatums unless you are willing to follow through. The best I can hope for is at some point the desire for food he likes will force him to eat the 2 bites and next time we say 'eat a bite or it's for breakfast' he'll just eat the bite & we can all get on with our lives.

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