Dear Daughter is a picky eater. She's pretty much always been that way, at least off and on. It's "on" right now, and getting worse daily. She will, however, eat copious amount of "greasy beans," which are green beans swimming in butter. Go figure. She wouldn't touch the things with a 20 foot pole during the first two years and seven months of her life. Dear Son, on the other hand, will eat anything you put in front of him whether it is intended to be edible or not. He especially likes black olives and his bath water right now.
Anyone who is a mom to young children knows that entire days get consumed with preparing and cleaning up meals. Since young children need to eat frequently and are so messy, the mess from one meal takes a good hour to clean up and then less than two hours later you are back in the kitchen preparing the next meal.
Daughter is in a phase where she doesn't like to eat ANYTHING unless it's ice cream, plain noodles (no sauce), or chocolate. Oh yeah, and "greasy beans." I've gotten tired of working my butt off (which never quite comes completely "off," by the way) to prepare healthy meals multiple times every day that daughter won't eat. Today I gave her some choices to pick from before I prepared her lunch. She insisted that she wanted tortellini. The same tortellini that she didn't eat a week and a half ago when I made it for her, mind you. She insisted that she DOES like it and that she WILL eat it THIS time! Thinking that she is so fickle these days that exactly who knows if she will or will not eat the requested food, I went ahead and prepared the tortellini (sans sauce, because even if it is plain ol' smooth Traditional Rague sauce, there just MIGHT be a mysterious onion in there somewhere). The outcome? She wouldn't eat it.
I surveyed the mess in the kitchen, the mess covering Dear Son (who enjoyed the tortellini, of course), and the floor around his highchair, and considered all the work I had in front of me to clean up as soon as I got Son down for his nap. I considered how I made what Daughter REQUESTED this time, and how it sat, barely touched, on her plate. Since it was the fifth time this week that she has done this, I knew I was going to lose it again if I didn't send her to her room so I could cool down. We have already developed the rule that if Daughter asks for something and doesn't eat it, it gets saved for later and reheated for her to eat before she gets to have something else. This strategy still doesn't seem to prevent repeat episodes like I've described.
So Daughter trudged upstairs to her bedroom, sobbing all the way, leaving me feeling like the horrible Ogre Mommy. I really don't like to make big issues over food. I've had my own dysfunctional relationships with food over the years, including refusing to eat any. I don't want to pass that curse on to my daughter. I DO want her to know that it's not okay to be wasteful, and it's not okay to be inconsiderate of my time and effort to prepare and clean up after the foods she requests and doesn't eat. I don't want to scream and yell at her and pound my fists on the counter in protest again like I did a couple mornings ago when Daughter said she wanted eggs for breakfast and then didn't eat them in spite of sitting at the table for over an hour picking at them and requesting Rice Crispies instead. I told her she could have Rice Crispies if she still wanted them AFTER she ate the eggs she wanted. An hour and ten minutes later I had to pack up the kids and head out the door to keep from being late for work, and there she still sat picking and dawdling. Whew! I really lost it that time, and I pretty much agreed, after that, that I WAS the horrible Ogre Mommy. I did request her forgiveness later for losing my temper so badly in spite of it not being okay that she continues her own abhorrent behavior.
And so, as I felt my frustration broiling today over the current theme, I felt an "Ogre episode" coming on. I managed to simply send Daughter to her room so that I could have a time out while I hosed down Dear Son with the kitchen sink sprayer and considered just dropping a lighted match in the kitchen so that I never had to look at the never ending mess again.
I was calm by the time I met with Daughter in her room. I tried to talk logically with her, questioning why exactly did she not want to eat the tortellini that she requested me to make for her. She didn't answer, and I asked again. She said, "I don't know." I told her that wasn't true, she does know, and I wanted her to tell me. I knew that she was probably afraid of being unable to come up with the right thing to say that would calm my ire over the ordeal. Sure enough, what she finally said was, "Well...let me tell you something! I just have so many things in my imagination that I just don't know what the right excuse is!"
Of course I busted up laughing and had to squeeze her and kiss her before I finished the "talk" with a reminder that the tortellini would be waiting for her when she got hungry and to remember next time not to ask for things to eat and then not eat them.
God help me, just about every post I make these days is tagged with the "Parenting Stress" label!