Saturday, February 12, 2011

Starving for Newtons

I've been told it's just her age.  But I swear to God, every regular routine part of every single day is a huge dramatic nightmare for Lila and she makes all of it pure hell for me.

We eat dinner together every night.  I am a big fan of "family dinner time" so I insist that Ben be home from work and we all sit together at the table WITHOUT the TV on and talk.  I gave up a LONG time ago on eating foods that Lila is unlikely to eat.  So we rarely have steak or roasts or basically ANY grown up food because I just know that she will refuse to eat it and additionally make a big deal about the fact that she can't eat Popsicles for dinner.  And since I am no short-order cook, I only make one meal per night and so we eat a lot of hamburgers and pizza and tacos.  I try to make "healthier choices" when it comes to these things and so we use lean meat and whole grain and that kind of thing. 

In most families, this is enough and the kids generally shut up and partake in the dinners, but not in my house.  Not for the queen.  Lila just refuses to eat.  She just will not eat.  At least not what we are eating and not when we do.  Lila's entire MO for the last couple of months, is to take two bites of dinner then begin to play.  Usually we "suggest" that she eat some more and she says she will after she takes a break.  But she doesn't.  And she starts to do annoying things like bang her silverware or make obnoxious noises.  After a few minutes we tell her to either eat or get down.  She always gets down. 


It's the four food groups.
As I am sure you can guess, as soon as we clean the table off, Lila asks for a snack.  At first we tried giving her a " food you didn't finish at dinner" snack but this only caused convulsion-style tantrums so we stopped.  We began simply telling her that if she got down from the table without eating her dinner she could not have a snack.  Although this seems like a perfectly reasonable statement it fills me with fear and dread.  Because inevitably, as we are lying in bed and I close her story book for the night, she tells me she's hungry.  Then she can't go to sleep because she's too hungry and she ends up crying until well into the night until either we give her a snack or we drink ourselves unconscious.  I am not exaggerating when I say that she has cried in her room from 8:30 until close to 2 am until I finally gave in and brought her a cereal bar. 

We have tried allowing her to eat her dinner later, if she chooses.  She refuses, saying that at bedtime you can only eat snacks and not dinner.  I have tried offering her peanut butter and jelly sandwiches or carrots and dip for snacks so that she can get some nutrition but then I realized that she was just holding out for these things.  Then I began trying to give her these things at dinner time, just to end the hassle of it all and GUESS WHAT???? She suddenly didn't like them anymore. 

I will not battle with her over eating.  She does not understand why she can't skip dinner and just eat 8 Fig Newtons at bedtime every night.  This is a battle of wills, and the only way to win the battle of wills with a 3 year old is to not let her know it's a battle.  I just tell her I really don't care if she's hungry.  She can eat what I give her or not at all.  And although I say these things, I have to admit that when she turns into a total asshole because she's hungry after refusing to eat lunch and then she refuses to eat anything other than whatever random food item she deems necessary at that moment (it Alvin and the Chipmunks gummy snacks, today) I just send her to her room until she can chill the fuck out and act like a human child again.  Sometimes I can get her to eat normal food, sometimes I can't.  Usually, I compromise on a bowl of cereal or yogurt or something and about half the time, she still refuses to eat it, but I still feel like she holds out for these snack foods that she likes better than actual meals.  It's not the fact that she only wants to eat a few foods.  Its the fact that the few foods she wants to eat are cookies, chips, and ice cream.

I know the old adage that a healthy kid will not starve herself.  But no one ever says she won't maker her mother completely insane in her quest to only eat the 3 items she wants to eat so that she can prove who is in charge.

2 comments:

  1. My daughter, age 7, STILL fights with me over food. She is required to do no thank you bites and if she wants an alternative she can make herself a pb&j. Last night it took her 45 minutes to eat 1 piece of pizza. I told her don't worry we have all night, and wouldn't let her get up until she ate it. It is a power struggle, that I suspect will always be there.

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  2. This is the reason that I, early on, found a nice safe place for everything we weren't eating that day...where the kids had no idea to find it. I literally left them with no choice as to what there was to eat.

    Sure the tantrums lasted awhile into the evenings. However my kids made the mistake of underestimating which one of us was more immature and stubborn.

    They still pick some things out, but they have learned to eat most of whatever the hell I give them, since they have been conditioned to understand that there is literally no alternative besides starving!

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