January 22, 2013

Parental Hardassery

For years we have tolerated the vastly different eating habits of our children. Because tolerance is good, right? We - and here, by we, I mean Beth - have humored our children, preparing alternatives to our gross grown up dinners. Hey, at least our kids were eating and we were all eating something together, at the same time, around the same table. Over the weekend we said enough.

(And if you're my children, the word enough is followed by a brief reminder that hearing enough with an implied exclamation point means stopping whatever annoying thing you're doing. Every damn time.)

Mia started her life as a picky eater, turning her nose up at boob and relenting only after she realized we were serious. After actual food was introduced she ate a steady diet of avocados followed by an endless supply of strawberries. We were convinced for quite some time that she would starve yet, contrary to all logic, she kept eating three foods and thrived. Owen started off much more promising and continued though now he'd love to subsist only on meat. Preferably meat that he's personally gone out and wrestled to the ground. They are both, now, good eaters, proving that parents are often neurotic for no good reason. So, enough with this special meal crap.

The New And Improved Cactus-Fish Family Rule Of Food: There is one meal. Try the grown up meal a minimum of three times - good, big bites, not little nibbles - after which you can either keep eating or find something in the fridge you can prepare yourself.

We expected Owen to try new things without much of a fight. He has. It's Mia that's been the greatest surprise. Instead of whining about her choices (or lack thereof), she's tried everything the minimum amount of times and kept going. The first meal out of the gate was lasagna, followed by vegetable-barley soup and, last night, a white bean and spinach strudel. It's like Invasion Of The Body Snatchers except instead of being replaced with an alien hell-bent on ruling the Earth, she was replaced with a kid-size being who'd easily settle for a good home-cooked meal.

Parenting is often mystifying. Never dull. Often mystifying.

Posted by Chris at January 22, 2013 7:49 AM

Maybe someday soon we'll be brave enough to try this in our house. I'm tired of making two (and sometimes three) different dinners!

Posted by: akofaolain at January 22, 2013 10:28 AM

I was just so stubborn...

Posted by: alektra at January 22, 2013 10:39 AM

My wife and I (mostly my wife) decided very early on that she would only cook one version of dinner. If the kids didn't like it, that's ok, but they had to try it.

Posted by: Rex at January 22, 2013 10:51 AM

Good for you guys - there should never be more than one meal for dinner unless the person who chooses not to eat it is capable of making their own.
I don't think there were more than 2 or 3 dishes that our son didnt like (cooked tomatoes was a big NO). I know without a doubt that my mother had the same rule - because I remember throwing up my fish about a 1/2 hour after I'd eat it!

Posted by: NancyB at January 22, 2013 12:33 PM

sounds like us, almost word for word! except it's my husband that does the short-order cooking and my daughter's foods that she lived off for months were bananas and cheddar cheese :)

i've tried similar new rules, but so far not luck... one of these times...

Posted by: kati at January 22, 2013 1:34 PM

Can I eat at your house?

Posted by: blepharisma at January 22, 2013 2:28 PM

I make only one meal. And when Sam says, "I don't really like this." I remind him that every dinner can't be his favorite and that this is what we're eating tonight. He's not always happy about it, but he hasn't gone to bed without eating dinner yet.

Posted by: Annie at January 22, 2013 4:39 PM

White bean and spinach strudel?

Posted by: Dianna at January 22, 2013 10:55 PM