Dinner was something I used to look forward to. It tasted really good. Especially if it wasn’t prepared by me. Sometimes, and I know this is wrong, I would skip lunch if dinner looked especially scrumptious, prepared by a chef in a…restaurant (?) I think they call it (sorry, haven’t been to one since my birthday meal with the family at IHOP in July.
I like my syrup options
At 4 years old (and squirmy) and 19 months (and pure id), my kids have turned mealtime into my least favorite time of the day. And I like to eat.
If you’re a parent you know the deal. Food-splattered walls, crumbs embedded in every crevice stained clothes, crusty hair and a lot of backtalk about what’s being served. “Dinner conversation” goes a little bit like:
Charlotte: “I’m not eating this broccoli.”
Me: “Just the top part.”
Campbell: “Gaaaaaaaaaa!” (dumps pasta onto floor)
Me: “Campbell! We don’t do that with our food.”
Scott: “Charlotte, feet under the table.”
Charlotte: “Can I have dessert now?”
Me: “We’re still eating dinner.”
Charlotte: “How many more bites til dessert.”
Scott: “Everyone is still eating their dinner.”
Charlotte: “Who’s going to be done first and can give me dessert?”
Campbell: “More! More.”
Me: “More what, pasta?”
Me: “We’re not having crackers. Water?”
Campbell: “Cheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeese.” (throws sippy cup to the floor)
And that is about as pleasant as it gets.
Charlotte after a black bean soup masacre, a few years ago, at 11 months
I dread sitting down to a meal with them. It is not relaxing. I no longer follow the “wait until everyone is seated to begin eating” rule that the polite pre-kids me abided by. I finish what’s on my plate in about a minute, readying myself to catch Campbell’s flying flatware, or cut off the stems of Charlotte’s vegetables. I can’t look down anymore. If it lands on the floor, it stays. There is no point in picking anything up until the meal is over. And it’s over quickly, because I can’t take it.
This wouldn’t upset me so much if I wasn’t such a stickler about eating together. We all know what research has proven: kids who sit down with their families for dinner usually do better in school, are more well-adjusted and may even be healthier. It’s important to me to spend dinnertime with them, as my parents did with my brother and me. As it is, it can’t be every night; Scott and I can only make it work on the weekends; five nights a week the kids eat earlier than we do. So the least we can do is dedicate our Saturday and Sunday suppers with them right?
Campbell, 18 months, experimenting with hummus as hair gel
I know it will get better. Campbell will be less interested in giving himself avocado facials at the table; Charlotte will develop a taste for food that isn’t beige. We’ll need fewer rolls of paper towels. Until then, we’ll suck it up. And mop it up.
(And I’m grateful they don’t THROW it up…)
Charlotte may be eating healthfully, but she’s wearing that cupcake pendant close to her heart
What’s YOUR experience with mealtime when kids are in the mix?