Food Glorious Food

I used to think this. There was a day when I loved cooking, but we've already discussed this. The kids have been my undoing all around. Because of them I'm overweight, my metabolism is dead, my brain cells are greatly diminished, I'm losing my short-term memory, I have a weak bladder, stretch marks prevent me from ever looking into a mirror while unclothed again, I'm sleep deprived, and catch myself saying things my mother said that I swore I never would. And I've learned to hate cooking.

Food is a huge deal when you have children. No longer do you simply think "oh, that sounds good. We'll have that to eat." If only it were that easy! From birth they're fully in control. They tell you, in no uncertain terms, that they are hungry and want to eat now. So we feed them, every few hours we drop everything and give in to their demands. And then they get older and you are overjoyed at starting solids with them. How fun this will be. Until you actually try it. You realize that they have no intention of actually eating it, only painting you with it. Oatmeal colored mommy is very, very funny.

After teaching them at great expense that food is to be eaten, they invent new demands. Like green beans for breakfast. I remember when my first went through this and I was horrified. She cannot have green beans for breakfast. They're not breakfast food. I would be a bad mom. Funny how things change. With my 4th child I'd be delighted to feed green beans for breakfast. He demands hot dogs. And I've come to terms with the fact that I'm a bad mom and I give them to him.

But this last child of ours is not like any of the others that have gone before him. He is a nonconformist and we're too tired to deal with it. While he was strapped in the high chair he sat and ate meals with us. Then one day, at the tender age of 2, he simply broke the tray off the high chair and was free. Not being ready to sit at the table with the rest of the family, we purchased another high chair. But it wasn't long before he wanted nothing to do with this and spent his time in it screaming and throwing food rather than happily eating. Out went the high chair and in came Helen Keller. After experimenting with different seating options, he chose to simply walk around the table and snatch food off others' plates because surely the chicken on daddy's plate was better than the chicken on his plate. The frustrations over this were agonizing but short-lived. Somehow he came to eat in front of the TV as he sat transfixed in front of the tube. And somehow this has become a way of life for all of us. When we have meals we set a plate for him because we expect him to eat with us. But part way through the meal he decides he's tired of our company and takes his plate to more entertaining characters. And we allow this to happen because by the time he leaves we're tired of saying "please sit down, take a bite, do not reach, eat your food, sit in your own chair, EAT."

But this is not without problems. He does eat, and eat well, in front of the TV. We cannot complain about the sheer amounts of food that he puts away. But the carpet is paying the price for our poor parenting. Did I tell you that this is a brand new house, we just built it 2 years ago? I fear we'll be replacing the carpet in the next month or so. In an effort to rent the steam cleaner on a less frequent basis, we put a small throw rug in front of the TV. Tacky though it looked, I was proud of my thinking skills in this one. But the boy outsmarted me. Eating on the carpet in front of the TV didn't work with the rug. It was tossed aside before putting down the plate. So I went bigger and better. I hit Ikea because they wrote the book on great things at great prices. I got a huge indoor-outdoor area rug made of straw-like stuff that I cannot think of the name of right now. (See short-term memory loss and dead brain cells.) It simply hoses off (outside) when dirty and is large enough to slip a corner under the entertainment center as well as under the coffee table. This worked for a very short while, but the boy is a thinker and learned to push the coffee table aside, then using his freakish Bam-Bam like strength he pulled it out from under the entertainment center and away it went.

And then there are the dogs. Everyone with dogs knows that food left laying on the floor is fair game. So they keenly watch him and the moment he gets up to get a toy, or a drink, or to run around for a few seconds, the food is gone. I've gotta watch the dogs keenly while he's eating, which happens to be non-stop all day. One dog in particular is incredibly sneaky and frequently spends time in the outside kennel for her theiving ways. They've become selective in the foods they'll eat now. Applesauce has lost it's appeal and they wait for the meat to emerge before making their move.

After 12 years of parenting my defenses are at their lowest. And the kids know this. They may complain that the baby is spoiled and gets whatever he wants, but I'm here to tell you that they're not faring so bad either. Get this; my daughter made supper last evening. She did a fabulous job and we dined in high style on grilled chicken, broccoli and cheese and homemade french fries. I've made this meal many times before with complaints ranging anywhere from "chicken again?" to "what are those?" Every last person sat at the table and gratefully ate, helping themselves to seconds until it was all cleaned up. Even The Baby. That's gratitude for you.

1 comment:

Cecily R said...

Oh, Karen, at least you start at the table! Most days we don't even do that. It's my goal once Jon has a better schedule to actually use the table for what its meant for. I'm such a dreamer!