There is something horrifying about watching what was once recognizable food being rearranged into something that resembles… well, not food. Did you ever make those cookies with your kids that have been rolled and stabbed and dropped and iced and licked and they are just so totally gross that there is no way in the world you would ever eat them? No? O.K. maybe that was just me, but when it comes to kids, most people have watched food go from counter, to dinner plate, to garbage can faster than you can say, “No you can’t have ice cream.”
As my mother in law once told me “Kids waste a lot.” Sorry, it’s true. In offering a variety of good choices to your child, some things will go unfinished. Offering very small amounts of new things helps but inevitably just when you think you have it knocked, that Mac and Cheese you have been depending on will suddenly be banished to “The Land Of Despised Staples” and you will be left with a plate full of abandoned noodles. Pat yourself on the back for trying and let it go. If you suffer from food remorse as you chuck the whole cheesy mess into the dogs dish, you are not alone; but sadly, you cannot mail uneaten food to where it might be better appreciated – no matter how much your kids wish you would. Remind yourself that someday when you are in charge of the universe you will arrange it so that nothing goes to waste. Meanwhile the world wobbles on, and like the Crood’s it’s your job to keep moving toward the light.
Done is done.
Having plucked my four year olds face out of her plate of green beans and carried her off to bed with bits of butter sticking to her cheek, I feel I can say with empathy, ‘It’s best to try and be reasonable about how long your child should sit at the table.’ If they have rearranged their plate, and it looks like there is less than when they started, call it progress and let them totter off. If it’s about the long haul and enjoying the ride, you can offer that broccoli (or green beans) again another day. By the time they leave for college they may even like it!
Do you have a practice that makes life easier at mealtime? Feel free to share the love. It’s cheaper than therapy and someone might even thank you for it!