Thursday, March 26, 2009

Dinnertime battles

I have come to dread dinnertime. Lately I never know when I meal I make will meet with my children's approval. Fortunately for me, I've stopped caring!

Long ago I decided to stop being a short order cook; my girls would have to eat what I make, or not eat. I often modify what I serve them so that it was more palatable for them. For example, If I were making Balsamic chicken, I take some chicken out of the pan before adding the balsamic sauce. My standard rule is that they must try a bite, if they don't like it still, they can have a bowl of cereal but then no dessert. I think it is a pretty fair system. My children, usually Megan, don't agree.

The other night I made this yummy lime chicken taco recipe I found here. I served the girls theirs without the salsa and corn. Sarah ate her taco and didn't complain. I don't think she'll want to eat one again, but I was so proud of her for trying something new. Megan was a different story. She refused to eat it before she even saw it. She immediately requested a bowl of cheerios for her dinner. I told her that she had to try a bit of chicken first. She sat on the table complaining and refusing to eat anything.

By now the rest of us were done eating and I was cleaning up the kitchen. I told her that if she hadn't eaten anything by the time I was done, she would get nothing to eat until breakfast. Megan was steadfast in her pursuit of a bowl of cheerios. This was a battle of wills and I was determined not to back down. Little ms. headstrong finally decided that she would try the chicken. I popped a piece in her mouth, she chewed, swallowed and announced she didn't like it and said, "can I have my cheerios now?"

I reminded Megan that she would not be able to eat dessert later in the evening. Upon hearing that she told us that she would skip the cheerios and eat her dessert later. I reminded her that since she did not eat the dinner I made she can't have dessert. She was absolutely devastated and collapsed into a tantrum. She eventually came around and decided that she would eat her cheerios.

She ate the cheerios and the rest of the evening continued as usual, until just before bed. When her sister was having her dessert, Megan kept telling us that she was starving, "starving to death". She even fell out on the floor and played dead! The melodramatics continued for some time. She was being so noisy and difficult. When I asked her to stop talking so I could listen to the presidential news conference her response was, "If you give me dessert I'll stop". Oh sure, let me just give into an almost 5 year-old's irrational demands in the midst of a tantrum!

She eventually calmed down and crawled into my lap. Within 10 minutes she was fast asleep. I have a feeling that Megan is really struggling with this whole growing up thing. She is desperately trying to hold onto being a little kid and trying so hard not to grow up, but then at times wanting to be a big girl. I know that this roller coaster ride has only just begun so we have a long road ahead of us. It may kill us both!


Anonymous said...

I have a similar policy. I really encourage the kids to at least TRY the dinner (and I make similar modifications to make it more palatable to them). They don't HAVE to try it, but if they don't, then no dessert. They are allowed to go right to cereal (and yup, it's usually a bowl of Cheerios in our house) without trying, but then no dessert.

They are allowed to still get dessert after the cereal if they gave the dinner a decent try, though.

They're pretty good about it - my oldest (9) will almost always eat whatever I make for dinner, and my middle guy (6) is really good about at least trying it. But we also have a youngest "princess" that, more often that not, refuses to even try and goes straight to cereal.

Beth at I Should Be Folding Laundry said...

Good for you on not being a short order cook. I gave that up years ago and my kids, my husband and I all eat the same meal every night. They try everything! It's wonderful, but it took us a while to get here.

Best of luck.