That’s the first thing I hear as soon as I set dinner down on the table. We say prayers. Message repeats: I don’t like it.
I sit there making polite conversation about the children’s days while trying not to notice that Leo has not taken a single bite of his dinner. I am a firm believer that if you make a big deal about your kid’s poor eating habits it pushes him farther into his corner. I encourage him to try his dinner but I don’t overdo it. I sit there at one end of the table, nonchalantly discussing the squirrel I saw on the deck today while my son sits at his end, nonchalantly starving himself to death.
We have told the boys again and again how to deal with food they don’t like: quietly eat around it without stating aloud that they don’t like it. It must be opposite day for Leo every day, though, because, newsflash, HE DOESN’T LIKE IT.
I usually prep dinner when the kids are at school, and it’s such a glorious time of day. I chop, peel, saute and marinate, I fill the house with smells and think how lovely it will be to pull all this food out of the oven, magically transformed into caramelized squash or golden chicken, dripping with juices. Then we sit down to eat a couple hours later and one or more of the boys is repulsed by what I’ve made, sometimes to the point of tears. We sit there at the table spread with beautiful food and I say to Kevin, “Making dinner is my happy time of day. Eating dinner is my sad time of day.”
I decided to chart the dinners I’ve made the past couple weeks and what the boys thought of them. Maybe I’m exaggerating, I thought. Maybe it’s not that bad, I thought.
Okay, seriously, Leo. Work with me here! Who doesn’t like mashed potatoes?
Of course, then we go out to dinner and he eats his weight in calamari, tentacles and all. I give up.
I’m not looking for advice or anything. Honestly, I’m pretty sure I’m doing things the right way. I keep cooking food that exposes my boys to a ton of flavors, textures, colors, and styles. I don’t get into “food fights” with my boys over how many bites to eat. I don’t make them sit at the table until their plate is clean. I don’t hold up dessert like some golden ring they can grab by eating x number of bites. In fact, I rarely serve dessert to the boys at all lately just to avoid the whole issue. I never use the “p” word around Leo (you know, the one that rhymes with “icky,” coincidentally).
I guess all I need is a good helping of sympathy. Maybe for someone to tell me I’m not the world’s worst cook or that Leo will come around some day. Maybe for someone to say their kids are much pickier than mine, even. Maybe for someone to say, “It’s not you, it’s him.”
Because I’m telling you, it’s totally him.
WHAT’S COOKIN’ 2NITE:
Roasted green beans
(I’m not even going to bother to chart the frittata. Even my most adventurous son won’t touch that one!)