When you have two children under the age of five, there are a few things that are guaranteed to happen:
–Someone will have an accident while being potty trained. And it will be in the middle of dinner, just as you are about to dig into your first bite of that ribeye. And you will have to drop everything to clean it up.
–There will be many brawls between your kids, usually over something purely illogical [at least to you] such as Kid 1 playing with a toy that hasn’t been played with in months, and which Kid 2 will suddenly decide she MUST HAVE, then take the thing from Kid 1, thus resulting in a good 20 minutes of crying, howling and all-around mayhem.
–One, or both of them, won’t want to eat what you have made for dinner.
It’s the third instance here which has given my wife, The Thoroughly Awesome Ms. Crums, and I the most grief on a regular, daily basis.
“Finicky” is probably the best word that can describe the eating habits of our two-year-old, Little Sis. We might suggest half a dozen different choices to her, but she’s always adamant about the one dish that will satisfy her…
Me: So, honey, do you want to try some chicken for dinner?
Little Sis: NO!
Me: How about a cheeseburger?
Little Sis: NO! I WANT MAC AND CHEESE!
Me: You had mac and cheese last night? Do you want to try something different?
Little: NO! I. WANT. MAC. AND. CHEEEEEESE!
My Wife [Insert string of loud obscenities that kids really shouldn’t hear]: Oh, for the LOVE OF PEACE! Fine! You can HAVE MAC AND CHEESE!
Now Maddo, our four-year-old, is a little more adventurous. She likes chicken, especially in nugget form. A bean and cheese burrito often goes down well, too. And if a hot dog is involved, we’re golden. She’ll even eat a few pieces of broccoli, which for a four-year-old, is as close to a miracle as me playing right field, or any other position, for my Beloved Seattle Mariners.
The other night, however, the girls threw us a couple of curveballs. We decided to order some stuff to go from a local Italian joint. Like many restaurants, this place has a kids menu that included the All-American go-to food for little kids, macaroni and cheese. I figured that since Little Sis demands mac and cheese a minimum of every night of her life, that an order of this was in the works.
“She wants pizza,” my wife said. Actually, she texted me that. Welcome to family communication in the 21st century.
Anyway…Little Sis wanted pizza, and Maddo asked for spaghetti and meatballs. This was different because, although Maddo does eat a lot of different things, meat hasn’t really found its way onto her palate. Knowing how I live on steaks and other red meat, this has me concerned that Maddo might not really be my kid. But, she asked for spaghetti and meatballs and that’s what I ordered.
I picked up everything, brought it home, set things up for dinner, and, of course, that’s when everything went sideways.
Little Sis: I don’t WANT pizza! I want MAC AND CHEESE!
Maddo: Uh, Daddy…What is THIS? [Holds up a meatball.]
Me: It’s a meatball, sweetie. Eat it!
Maddo: NO, I don’t like it!
Little Sis then began wandering around the kitchen and living room. Maddo just sat in her chair, talking away like she always does, and eviscerating more pieces of bread than my wife and I ate between us. Dinner was turning into a typical circus.
After this went on for about 10 minutes, my wife hit upon a novel idea, one so simple that it’s no wonder I didn’t come up with it myself: Switch dinners.
My Wife: Maddo? Do you want some pizza?
Maddo: YES, MOMMY!
And onto her plate went a slice of thin crust with cheese.
My Wife: Little Sis? Do you want to try some noodles [Meaning Maddo’s spaghetti].
Little Sis: YES!
And with that, my wife scooped some of Maddo’s spaghetti into a small bowl and gave in to Little Sis, who promptly shoved both of her hands into the red sauce and pasta and began eating. Within minutes, her face looked like she had put on the worst clown makeup in the world.
But she ate. They both ate. They just didn’t eat what they said they wanted. I guess it didn’t matter. When it comes to getting your kids to eat, them eating something is always better than nothing. Even if they are eating off the other one’s plate.