Well, I don't know about you but I'm about ready to toss this week in the garbage. There were a handful of bright spots, notably the smashing success that was preschool orientation and Phillip's birthday dinner and, hmm, I think I bought something on Etsy. But other than that it's been one mess of cranky, sassy, food-wasty, grumpypants. With a lot of comfort carb-loading in the evenings because dude, I deserve it.
These days have been the kind of days where I'm totally doing okay, I really am, I am making dinner and using my pleasant Mommy voice and fulfilling twenty-seventh requests for snacks and drinks and toys and books and help with the potty. And I am doing those things EVEN THOUGH they're doing their whole Selectively Deaf charade and embarrassing me in front of friends and throwing freaky deaky tantrums in the car (MOLLY) and responding to my every instruction with "No! I just BLAH BLAH BLAH" (JACK) and people I should be on my second bottle of wine by 5pm not making dinner.
BUT I DO. And I haven't been drinking the wine! (Partly because - news flash - the cheapest wine at the grocery store ($3.99!) tastes like pavement!)
BUT THEN. Then! Each day has contained A Straw. The straws are USUALLY food-related, though not always. Yesterday's straw was when both kids asked for yogurt, then, when said yogurts were placed in front of them, stared at the yogurts as though they had never SEEN yogurt before, what IS this disgusting substance doing anywhere near them, do we need to call hazmat? The day before that had something to do with picking up toys. The day before that? Someone's insistence on "do it myself!" and whatever we were doing taking nine hundred years longer. I'm not - news flash - terribly patient.
TODAY'S straw was when I attempted to implement the New Dinnertime Policy which I stole directly from the comments, lest anyone accuse me of ignoring the comments or not responding to them or, say, writing them myself under different accounts. AHEM. The New Dinnertime Policy is as follows: You Must Eat At Least One Of Everything On Your Plate. aka You Must Try Everything On Your Plate. aka You Must Have At Least One Bite Of Everything On Your Plate. HOWEVER IT GETS UNDERSTOOD. This satisfies 1) Phillip's compulsion desire that the children eat their vegetables and 2) my desperate prayer desire not to turn every meal into a "Just have one more bite of this!" "One more bite and you can do this!" "Eat this and you can have dessert!" "Let's have just one! more! bite!" AD NAUSEUM.
So tonight I gave them ravioli, bread, watermelon and peas. Ravioli with RED sauce, I should say. Not as common as white sauce in our house, but I've had fairly good success with filled pasta (we call tortellini doughnut noodles, FYI) and Molly, at least, and if she's in The Right Mood, will eat almost anything. Oh! AND! I let them eat at the little table in front of the TV because 1) Phillip was out and therefore I am Allowed To Be Lazy and 2) they almost always eat better if they're watching TV. SUE ME.
Molly takes one bite of ravioli, then decides she is no longer a fan, then sucks up the watermelon and peas (which are frozen, the preferred style) and the bread and demands more of each.
Jack sloooooooowly eats his bread. Then he sloooooooowly puts one ravioli on his fork, but the ravioli with the least amount of sauce. He does not touch the watermelon, which I know he at least likes. He does not go anywhere near the peas. Surprise!
Fine, fine, but after a while I decide it's time to implement the At Least One Of Everything Rule and that means One Pea. ONE PEA. After multiple suggestions, some coaxing, some stern wording and finally a Time Out threat, Jack says, quite like he's referring to Disneyland, "I want to go sit in Time Out!"
That was THE STRAW.
Okay, so the end of the story is that I won, he eventually came back to the table and ate, get this, FIVE PEAS, but I had to go get the frozen ones because by this time his peas were "soft". And then at 8pm he ate all the leftover ravioli, but only with butter and cheese because he didn't want "ketchup".
Which, okay, I hate it, it's so much work, it feels like everyone else's kid eats FOOD why won't my kid eat FOOD. And I look at Molly, who is getting pickier about eating, but in strange and varied ways, like the other night at my in-laws' she ate ONLY broccoli for dinner. And I give them the same food, the same amounts of food, etc. SO WHAT'S UP?
And then today, as I watched my kid eat his plain ravioli, sans ketchup, I thought about how my mother and grandmother would reserve a bowl of plain spaghetti for me before they smothered the rest with tomato sauce, and how I would dress my bowl with melted butter and Parmesan and how I did this until I was in college. How I never ate a tomato. How I was scared to move to Italy because all I knew about Italian food was tomato sauce. How totally grossed out I was when my dad forced us to go to a Chinese restaurant every summer. How salad meant lettuce and Ranch dressing. How much time I spent picking things like peas and carrots and other random green things out of whatever I was served. How I am still pretty picky - carrots, goat cheese, cilantro, onions, slimy seafood, and MOST tomato sauces are on My List - but how now I LOVE Chinese food and CRAVE dim sum and GROW vegetables in my YARD and not just for FUN.
I remember sitting at the dinner table, age eleven, and my father informing my sisters and me that we would not be allowed to leave the table until we ate a green bean. One. Green. Bean. I believe I eventually swallowed mine with milk. I'm pretty sure one of my sisters sat at that table until it was time to go to bed.
So I look at my kid and think, maybe I'm not necessarily doing it wrong, maybe there's no Answer. Maybe this is just what my dad meant when he said, in that menacing tone of his, that One Day I'd Have Children Of My Own.