Like the school lunch room is prime real estate for bullying, the dinner table is the premiere choice for children misbehaving. In our house, very little of dinner time is actually spent consuming food.
There was the moment my daughter thought it would be funny to “hide her hands” underneath the placemat and dumped an entire cup of milk across the table. Or my son was banging a spoon drenched in Chef Boyardee sauce under the table repeatedly, spewing pseudo blood stains across the room. (Yeah, I feed him Chef Boyardee. I’ve considered graduating to Hamburger Helper, but it seems so… complicated)
Somehow my kids spend most of their time simply not eating. They poke food, chew a single bite for ten minutes and before you know it they say, “I’m done.”
I have no shame. I bribe them with promises of chocolate and Jell-O and that’s just to get them to eat a single piece of meatloaf or a single green bean. (My daughter thinks it qualifies if she removes a single bean from the pod and eats it.)
But, the real insult comes the moment I set their plates on the table and say, “dinner is ready.” I feel so proud that I created a meal that has a protein, a starch and a vegetable and still tastes good and the second my daughter walks up to the table she makes a stank face and says, “I don’t like that.” Even worse, she takes a bite and then says, “I don’t like that.”
Then my husband takes a bite and he doesn’t have to say anything. I can tell by the look on his face that he considers it barely edible.
My children prefer their daddy’s Cuban food. Picadillo, ropa vieja, beans and rice, breaded steak and homemade chicken nuggets. When it’s my turn it’s inevitably a failed experiment. It’s soul-crushing.
The dogs are the only ones in the house that enjoy dinnertime. The second one of the children tastes something and decides they don’t like it, they toss it to a dog. I’ve seen my dog scarf down things that couldn’t possibly fit down his gullet. You haven’t lived until you’ve seen a Boston Terrier eat an English Muffin in one retching swallow.
Well, you can always just go out to dinner with the family. But, then this happens: