There is always some battle to be waged with toddlers. I have fought many in my day, leaving behind wine bottles and lollipop wrappers as the collateral damage of such said war.
Just as the smoke was beginning to clear from the big boy bed transition and potty training, a new fight emerged: meal time. For the love of God why is eating your food so hard?? I have spent most of my adult life trying not to eat and here I am, offering up grilled cheeses and french fries and nuggets on a silver Paw Patrol platter asking him to take 5 FLIPPING BITES while my voice cracks with the effort of trying to hold back my wracking sobs of frustration.
I remember as a child during the summer tuning into Sally Jessy Raphael and the “troubled teen” episodes. These kids were bad AF. But usually in a way where they were growing up in an affluent neighborhood and only being this bad to rebel against their country club loving parents. Cue the tough drill sergeant that always sort of looked like Damon Wayans from Major Payne (in addition to Sally Jessy, this was a staple of my childhood growing up) to haul them off to boot camp to give them a dose of where they’re headed if they don’t shape up. What’s my point here? Those kids always broke. ALWAYS. Even the toughest, nastiest, rudest kids that had Sally Jessy looking down her red-rimmed glasses at them in disdain, broke.
AJR does not break. He is perfectly content to fight the same fight day in and day out. He seems to relish in it, in fact.
Two nights ago I made a delicious looking grilled cheese. I sat at the table with my bag of sad, little carrot sticks and almost flipped the table Teresa Guidice-style when he looked at the glistening, gooey grilled cheese and proclaimed “I don’t want that. Get it off my plate.”
Hi. I’m your mom. Have we met? Let’s review a few facts.
- You like cheese
- You like bread
- This is f’ing melted cheese on bread. This is one of the best things that has ever happened to mankind. How could you possibly not like this when it is two of your favorite things put together in one delicious and impossible to resist concoction???
And so begin the negotiations. The bribes. The threats. The desperate pleading.
Me: “You LOVE cheesy bites.”
AJR: gives me a “I’m going to go do hood rat stuff with my friends” look and slinks out of his chair and starts zooming around the living room on Olivia’s pink ride-on train.
Me: “Anthony, please come to the table.”
AJR: shimmies his shoulders in response and zooms further away from me
Me: “I’m going to count to three. 1……2…..”
AJR: (scrambles over and climbs back into his chair) “Mommy! You ALMOST made it to three.” (Looks down at grilled cheese in horror. It’s still there. I have not removed it during his living room joy ride) “I DON’T WANT THIS!”
Me (enamel begins to chip off my teeth as I clench them tightly and hiss in a creepy sing song voice that’s actually very menacing): “Okay. Eat something else that’s on your plate then. Choose anything. There are three other options. Just put something in your mouth.”
AJR: (Takes a drink of milk) “Mmm, milky is good!”
Me: “Milk is not a bite of food.”
AJR: (Says nothing. Gives me a “I’m going to go do hood rat stuff with my friends” look and slinks out of his chair and starts zooming around the living room on Olivia’s pink ride-on train)
Are you ready to rip out your hair just reading this? Now imagine you have this conversation 15 times in the course of a 30 minute meal. Three times per day. 21 times a week. Eventually I get him to eat SOMETHING but I am exhausted and sweating, which leaves no energy to fight the temptation to inhale the remaining food that didn’t make it into his mouth during our high stakes negotiations. My one saving grace is that Olivia usually hoovers everything in sight and kicks her feet merrily looking quizzically at her brother wondering why he isn’t eating.
This is not an uncommon thing. I’ve spoken with my other friends and they all fight the good fight with their kids day in and day out. That is a small consolation prize but I can’t help but let my frustration bubble over like the gooey mac n’ cheese that has a 50% chance of being eaten.
I know I should let him be. He’s old enough where if he’s hungry, he will eat. I get that. But he is so darn skinny (not unhealthily so as the doctor likes to remind me) and he rarely requests snacks. It would be one thing if he was downing a barrel of Goldfish in between meals, but he’s not. I’m seriously considering auditioning him for Naked and Afraid as the kid does not need to eat much in order to run around like a GD maniac 99% of the time.
I have gotten so desperate that I’ve made attempts at “food art” to entice AJR to eat. This is my latest, and only creation, which has actually had minimal success as he delights in eating the “eyeballs”:
To compare, this is what other moms that have sold their soul to the devil in order to have the time/energy/desire to create things like that are whipping up in their kitchens:
So AJR will never be one of those kids that eats sushi. Or a hamburger. Or anything that he has never seen before but has made it onto his plate for the sole purpose of RUINING HIS ENTIRE LIFE. But I hope that one day he will. I mean, for goodness sakes, when I was in college I thought that guacamole was gross. Yes, I thought that guacamole was disgusting and refused to even try it. WHAT SORT OF SICK PERSON DOESN’T LIKE GUACAMOLE?? At least AJR can hide behind the fact that he’s 3 whereas I was 21 and turning up my nose while my friends pretended a tortilla chip was an airplane attempting to land some guac into my mouth.
As with most toddler battles, I’ve found that I don’t win them so much as time passes, he gets older, and I start caring less and it eventually works itself out. I’m sure that this is no exception. So in the meantime, I’ll be scouring Pinterest for fruit snack slow cooker recipes to get us through these dark days.