Yesterday morning, I wrote a post about picking my battles and not taking it as a personal affront when LittleBrother doesn’t want to eat dinner. He eats. The problem is not necessarily the food I am making, as he’ll eat that very same thing for lunch the next day without issue. The problem is dinner; the evening meal apparently seems unnecessary to him.
Yesterday evening, I made chili for dinner.
LittleBrother has always loved chili. When he was not quite two-years-old, he used to pick the beans out of the chili with his fingers, call them eggs, and eat them up. He loved chili that much.
Last night? Not so much.
And so, by dinner time yesterday, just hours after my big ole resolution of not taking it personally, I broke my “pick my battles better” resolution. I went off to our bedroom after I finished my bowl of chili and pouted in bed. Not only am I a January 2nd Resolution Breaker but I am also Not Mature. Fantastic.
It’s not that I need him to clean his plate. It’s not that I need him to tell me that it was the best chili known to mankind and that he is honored to be in its presence and, thus, mine as well. I’m not even overly worried about his health as he eats other meals well (most days) and, despite being built different than his older brother, is a healthy weight. He also loves healthy foods (cucumbers are his favorite) and eats things a lot of kids his age won’t touch. He is a great eater… until lately. And then, only not at dinner.
Despite my desire not to have a battle over this because I don’t want him to associate meal time with negativity, it hurts my feelings when he doesn’t eat my food. That’s right. Back to the Not Mature. I work really hard to find and make healthy and delicious meals for my family. I have not only taught myself how to cook, but I do enjoy it. I enjoy the process of cooking as well as that knowledge that I am doing right by the family budget and their digestive tracts and developing bodies/minds by feeding them good food. Not all of our meals are masterpieces; chili is hardly anything to write home about, even though last night’s recipe was quite delicious. But they all take time, effort and… well, love.
Last night, as he cried, “But I’m hungry,” as he refused to eat the food sitting in front of him, I didn’t feel very loved. I’m sure he didn’t feel the love either when I left him sitting at the table with a disgruntled FireDad and a very slow eating BigBrother. He eventually ate the chili; apparently my husband has more patience than I do. After finishing, he came into the bedroom and apologized for crying at the dinner table. I hugged him. We made up.
But I dread dinner tonight.
I have the chicken sitting out. And despite the recipe being for picky eaters, it’s not any of the ingredients he will have a problem with; it’s the witching hour of the evening meal. But instead of a colicky baby, I have a four-year-old who can argue with the best of them, leaving me, near the end of my day anyway, out of energy and patience and feeling generally put down. I’m eight kinds of tempted to order a pizza — which he’ll eat without complaint, no matter the time of day — and call it a day. For the rest of my life. Also, pancakes are acceptable.
I can’t possibly feed my family pizza or pancakes every night until he grows out of this phase. I also can’t figure out how to grow the heck up and act like a Mature Adult while he figures out that eating dinner is a good thing. Pouting in my bedroom every night hardly seems like a good idea. Neither does yelling. Or bribing. Or ignoring, as he is not a child who responds to “ignore it and it will go away” when it comes to the way a child is acting/reacting to a situation. If we ignore his dinner time antics, he’ll just get up and walk away from the table, happy to have beat us at our game. The advice of “have him help make dinner so he knows what’s in it and then he’ll eat it” falls short as he loves the ingredients; he just. hates. dinner.
He just asked me what we’re having for dinner. I almost replied, “Nothing.” Because that’s what I feel like making. Or a big ole fat plate of Wish Sandwiches because I wish this phase was already over.
Any tips? Advice? Coupons for pizza and pancakes?