Some people assume that just because I’ve been a mom for a while now (going on 20 years if you count Anthony, which I do!!) and because I have more than the “normal” amount of children (thus, more practice, I suppose) that I must have this whole “mom thing” down, and well…for the most part, that would be a little true, in that I know all the ins and outs of newborn care, and I do pretty good with the diaper thing and potty training stage, and I can handle a two year old’s temper tantrum without breaking into a sweat. But there are still things that I remain clueless about. And here’s one of them:
What do you do when you’ve made a meal for the family dinner, and you have one child who does not like what you’ve served? Do you ….
a) make that kid a special meal all for herself? Or
b) let that kid look in the fridge for something else to eat, even if it’s cold cereal? Or
c) do you say “Tough. This is what we are having tonight, and if you don’t want to eat it, that’s your choice. But I’m not a restaurant.”
While I do NOT make a “special” separate meal for the picky eater…I have up to this point allowed him or her to go look to see what else they might like to eat. I don’t want the kid to go to bed hungry. I mean, afterall, we all have our own likes and dislikes…and if when I was little my mom served FISH for dinner, I could not eat it without getting sick to my stomach (I hate all forms of sea food) so would it be fair of me to expect one of my children to eat something that they do not have a taste for?
This is how I used to think. But lately, it is becoming a problem. Tonight for example. I made chicken enchiladas for the first time. They came out really, really good. I only had one kid look at it (before tasting it) and said, “Ewww.” This was Andrew. I told Andrew not to say “Ewwww” because that’s RUDE…and to please TRY IT before you say you don’t like something. So he took a bite, and then a big smile spread across his face. He loved them, and actually had a second helping.
All the kids loved this meal, which made me happy. All except Avery. She took just two bites and then said she didn’t like it. Not at all. Not even a little bit.
“Can’t I get something else to eat?” she asked. “I’m so hungry.”
So I told her yes, to go ahead and look in the fridge to see what else there was. The rest of us went on to eat the enchiladas. Soon Avery joined us, with two slices of pizza on her plate. This caused quite the uproar from two or three other kids.
“What? How come SHE gets pizza!”
“I want pizza, too!”
Pizza, by the way, is our family’s most favorite thing to eat. All around, everyone loves pizza.
Avery, of course, had taken the last of the left-over pizza. But that wasn’t what got me frustrated. What got me frustrated was that had I made a special meal, and THIS was our dinner tonight — not the two left-over pizzas in the fridge; not the cold cereal in the pantry; not the granola bars or the canned peaches, and not a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. I just want to make ONE dinner and that’s IT.
When someone gets a special meal all to themselves, it creates a problem. Inevitably, one or more of the kids all of a sudden will claim that they do not like the dinner I made, either…and will ask if they, too, can get a special something else to eat.
So, then, do I just lay down the law that they ALL eat what I serve…or go hungry? I just have a very hard time doing that. I can understand if I had two or three things on the table (such as meatloaf, corn, and mashed potatoes) — if they don’t like mashed potatoes then they have the other two foods to eat. But with the enchiladas, that WAS the meal. There were no side dishes. It’s like if we have spaghetti one night, then that IS the meal. There are usually no side dishes with spaghetti, either. And so if Andrew claims not to “like” it — do I let him eat something else, or does he go to bed hungry? If he gets to eat something else, then I run the risk of others claiming they don’t want the spaghetti, either. I can’t play favorites, right? What’s good for one should be good for the others, right?
But yet…I am not a restaurant. And I don’t want to be a restaurant.
You’d think that I’d have this all figured out by now, right? But I don’t! It’s one of those things that I go back and forth on, not really knowing how to handle it. I don’t want to be the “EAT IT OR BE HUNGRY” mom…but then again, sometimes I feel like I’m being tricked…like maybe they don’t really care for the meal, but they could eat it just fine. We all have our favorite and our not-so-favorite meals, right? So in that case, they need to just deal with it and eat the meal that I’ve prepared.But what if they REALLY don’t like it? Is it then fair to make that child go hungry for the night?
How does everyone else handle this situation? I’m curious to know.