You have probably already guessed that food and eating are among my very most favorite parts of life. I love the fact that every meal is a new opportunity to experience pleasure and to feel good about what I’m putting into my body. The fact that I have the chance to get this buzz three times a day is pretty darn amazing!
So, rushed, stress-filled, tear-inducing mealtimes are not high on my list of fun times. But, as pretty much every parent of a toddler knows they are a sad fact of life. When we put Rosa in her high chair and place her plate in front of her, 80% of the time she eats without incident. She doesn’t always eat everything, which is completely fine with me, and she often makes a little mess, but, jeez, she’s two years old.
What haven’t been going well lately are our weeknight dinners. Anyah feeds Rosa supper at 5:30. I get home around 7 PM, and Dave and I sit down to dinner about 45 minutes later. Rosa is still awake, so she sits in a chair at the table, and essentially begs for food during the entire meal. We make her ask politely (“May I have some chicken please?”), and give her small bites. But all too frequently whining and raised voices ensue. Rosa will try to grab food on my plate, or yell, “Bread! Bread! Bread!” Neither Dave nor I enjoy our meal, and even worse, we don’t enjoy Rosa. (Although I can’t help to crack up when she says, “Give a friend a bite?”)
Plus, last night I had a flashback to every Helen Keller movie I’ve seen, with the blind and deaf Helen making an utter mess of the dinner table, grabbing food off of everyone’s plates, and basically acting like a wild child. So, I decided that a change of strategy is in order. From now on, even if she’s only eating a little bit Rosa will sit in her high chair. I expect a much more civilized dinner!
It’s amazing how many pitfalls can come with feeding your child, just beginning with what they’re eating. Yesterday I read a great article in the New York Times: 6 Food Mistakes Parents Make, from pressuring them to take a bite to serving boring vegetables. The article has been one of the site’s top two most popular reads since it was published, and I can see why: it offers practical advice that will hopefully make everyone’s dinnertime a true pleasure.