Mealtime is a Hell Reserved for Parents

If you believe in Hinduism, then parents are the victims of some seriously unfortunate karma. We must have all been some evil motherfuckers in our past lives based on what we deal with when we raise our children. We handle their bodily fluids like they are manna from heaven. We accept all their complaints and demands like we’re their servants. And if you’re like me, you sit through mealtimes torturing yourself in the name of their nourishment. You know the scenario – the one where you threaten your child with no dessert if they don’t eat their nutritious meal of chicken nuggets and fries. Mealtimes are my own personal hell.

I have a 4 year old and an 8 year old. They have both gone or are going through that special stage where they refuse to eat anything that doesn’t resemble a cookie. Fortunately my oldest has started venturing a bit outside his cookie and Taco Bell comfort zone, but that’s a recent development and it is slow going. I still have to pry his mouth open and physically restrain him to try something new. But at least now he is eating his dinner with fewer than 20 instances of “Do I have to eat this?” Because as every kid knows, we just put that broccoli on your plate as garnish. Totally no need to eat that.

My youngest has been testing the choppy waters of not eating just to be stubborn for about a year now and I have to say, just because I’ve done this before doesn’t make it any easier the second time around. I’ve tried all sorts of things to change her mind but it is simply a control thing for her. I could put just about anything other than candy on her plate and she would refuse it. And it’s not like she doesn’t like food. She loves food – all food. If I whip out some escargot and liver for my lunch, her food-dar instantly goes off and she sidles up to me asking, “What’s thaaaaaaaat? Can I have some?” But put it on her dinner plate and it’s suddenly time to take a stand.

A friend told me to try giving my daughter options instead of insisting she eat what is on her plate. The idea being, that if she has an option she will choose to eat something that was her choice. At first I gave it a shot – because oddly, I am sick of spending my entire meal threatening my child. But then I had second thoughts. What the hell happened to kids just doing what their parents told them to do? Why am I asking my child what she’d like to eat and making different meals for everyone? Oh yeah, because I’m an idiot.

So now my concern is that my daughter is going to have food issues as she gets older. My son has food issues too, as I  mentioned, but he’s a boy and I think he can handle it since society doesn’t fucking shame men about food 24/7. But my daughter has the potential to think starving herself is the answer to controlling her reality.

Perhaps it’s Karma. Maybe she was a glutton in her previous life and now she is doomed to a life of starvation. Or maybe she’ll just grow out of it and I’m torturing myself for absolutely no reason. But that would be weird. A mother torturing herself over nothing. Yeah. I’m totally going with Karma then.

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