One night a few weeks ago, several of my “mom” friends and I who had husbands working late or out of town got together with the kids for dinner. We got Chinese take-out, which usually pleases everyone. And everyone was pleased—except Caveman, whose current culinary preferences include fruit snacks* and, well, air.
He ate not one bite. No rice (he likes rice). No broccoli (he loves broccoli). None of the sweet crispy chicken dish that every other kid gobbled up. Not. One. Bite.
This has become a regular occurrence at mealtime-it doesn’t matter what the meal is. Chicken nuggets? “I no like deese.” Hot dogs? “Too hot!” PB&J? “Sticky! No want dinner! Want a nack!” It’s like I’m living with the male version of Goldilocks, except nothing but fruit snacks is ever “just right.”
When Princess was a toddler, I went to a speaker night about feeding children. Here’s what I learned in a nutshell: you put the food in front of your kids, they decide how much of it to eat. You control the choices; they control what they actually eat. If you serve dessert, EVERYONE gets dessert, even if they didn’t eat a “good” meal, because it teaches that some foods are “bad.” While I understand that line of thinking, I have a real issue with it when Caveman doesn’t even take ONE bite of his meal, especially when it is a meal I KNOW he likes.
After dinner, my friend brought out cupcakes. All the other kids got cupcakes.
“Cupcake!” yelled Caveman.
“You need to eat dinner first.”
After a few more rounds like this he figured out I was not going to cave and went to find my friend. With his most charming voice, batting his giant eyelashes over his enormous blue eyes, he asked, “Peese cupcake?”
“You want a cupcake?”
Big smile: “YES PEESE!”
“You have to eat dinner first, like Mommy said.”
He was aghast—someone said NO to his big blue eyes. What to do now?
A short time after that, as the adults chatted around the table, I looked over to see Caveman LICKING the crumbs of another child’s cupcake off the table. “Good grief!” I said, putting him on the floor and sweeping the crumbs into my palm. I came back from tossing the crumbs in the trashcan to seem him picking cupcake crumbs out of the carpet.
The kid is nothing if not persistent.
The evening ended with him over my shoulder, reaching back toward the house screaming “Cupcake! CUUUUUPP CAAAAAAAKE!” as I walked to the car. I strapped my little Stanley Kowalski into his carseat and drove home.
Where he ate the plate of food I’d saved from his lunch.
Mom: 1, Cupcake: 0.
*I blame my mother-in-law for the fruit snack addiction. She is a wonderful grandmother, but the woman actually believes fruit snacks are fruit. I’m slowly weaning the kids off them with “fruit leather.” That’s better, right?