“Getting your child to eat a meal has to be the single, most stressful part of parenting”
One of MMTs friends, over a cuppa, March 2016
Such a simple statement, but so, so true.
If you have ever been reduced to tears over a spaghetti bolognese, or held your head in your hands over a fishermans pie, you know exactly what we’re talking about.
Our first daughter really wasn’t ever too bad on the whole. We did, of course have low points. Like the day I spent 90 minutes preparing a miniature, baby sized fish pie from scratch, then decided to serve it with a side portion of carrots. I should have maybe taken a small victory in the successful consumption of the veg, but all I took was a life lesson to never again cook a meal in miniature. I couldn’t even take solace in the fact our dinner was sorted, as the tiny pie was pushed aside with disdain.
Now, a fully fledged four year old, the only problem we have with Tigs is getting her to STOP eating. She’ll wolf down a roast dinner, a salmon steak, a mountain of brocoli, corn on the cob, an entire fruit bowl, a MaccyD’s…whatever you put in front of her really. Her whiney chorusing of ‘hungry’ is like a broken record throughout the day, requiring loads of distraction and mental stimulation to divert her away from the kitchen and towards the toys in a bid to not contribute to the childhood obesity epidemic (but equally not induce a body image complex). Definitely ready for school, that one.
We should have known that her baby sister, who you may recall never really liked milk, was going to be a whole different ‘Kettle of fish’. The writing was on the wall from the very beginning.
My theory of her having a tiny stomach (being a 2nd percentile baby) and needing to eat little and often, was thrown out of court by the health visitor. The official line was that we need to make sure she comes to the table hungry at meal times.
Well she certainly seems hungry as she screams for an hour while I prepare her meal. But, when the damn meal is ready, she seems to lose interest.
The lunchtime selection of bready things, ham, cucumber, cheese, fruit has all gone a bit Pete Tong too. Her sisters endless appetite leaves me trying the little one with a bit of this, a bit of that. The ending result is a huge pair of eyes (in a tiny head) peeping out from behind a mountain of barely touched food, while her sister asks “can I eat that? She doesn’t want it”…
I know all the mistakes I’m making. Overwhelming her. Underwhelming her. Making mealtimes ‘an issue’. But it’s so hard not to feel the frustration rising.
Who knew that ones mood could be so severely affected by what another person did, or did not eat for dinner. The household aura at the witching hour can be so heavily influenced by what went down at tea time.
The girls seem to be developing not only opposing appetites, but also tastes. With one loving nothing more than a home cooked sloppy meal of pasta and sauce, or shepherds pie..and the other wanting a dry meat – veg – carb meal, nothing possibly touching each other.
There is one thing however they do have in common. And it has to be Heinz. No, really, it does. Our three year old sniffed out the Aldi equivalent ketchup in a millisecond. Thankfully the reduced sugar version has gone unnoticed as yet.
I don’t know how I let this happen, but a 16 month old surely shouldn’t be demanding dip dip with her scrambled eggs yet should she? I suppose it’s the sibling thing – they see, they want.
At first we thought it may be a good thing to encourage her to get a little down her, but now it’s clear. She’d happily just eat ketchup for tea. So we’re fighting the battle, but she’s not going down without a fight.
I think I might actually be turning into Mrs Pig off of ‘Mrs Pigs Bulk Buy’. It’s a tactic I’m keeping in the back burner, if things get really desperate.
But for now, we’ll keep going. Offering her whatever we’re having. Celebrating the good days and skirting over the bad. Persevering. Smiling through gritted teeth. Praising the successes, and glossing over the fails. Seeing the weekly calorie intake as a marathon, not a sprint.
Images from this post taken from Mrs Pigs Bulk Buy, by Mary Rayner, Published in 1981. One of my favourite childhood story books.