Saturday, November 21, 2009

On Your Marks...Get Set...

I'm a big believer in 'breaking bread'. Mealtime is one of my family's best opportunities to kick back together, take stock and digest the day without distraction. For a lot of us parents it's our only opportunity. Freshly knocked up, I used to enjoy mulling over the mysterious unexplored universe of parenthood that lay ahead. My husband and I tried to predict what kind of parents we would be. How we'd shine and how we'd probably suck, what was important to us and what we were ready to give up. I now laugh (and cry) at the list of things I thought I could pull off. Don't we all? Among those disappointments is Mealtime. Who knew that one of the most relaxing parts of our day could become such a gong show? I suppose I should have seen it coming. Our daughter's personality was clear as an infant. Once she had control over that pencil neck and could see beyond 5 feet, our social butterfly took flight. Nursing became an annoyance for me while thoroughly entertaining for those in our midst when my daughter developed the game of repeatedly ripping off the breast to flash a saucy grin to anyone and everyone within sight. Of course, she'd always make her move after a few sucks to encourage 'let down', thus the entertainment value. (Food Fight!) Not a lot has changed. At age 7, we're looking at up to an hour for our girl to polish off a meal. That seems insane to me but really, am I in a position to judge? After all, I'm just a spazzed out parent, living life like a manic race. For example, her dad and I clean our plates in under 10 minutes. (I knew it was love when I first witnessed him scarfing.) That leaves us with a good 3/4 of an hour of torturous Consumption Coaching while we do our best to keep our daughter from enjoying this social opportunity too much. "Yes, your moonwalk is as good as Daddy's. Now sit down and eat." "How do you solve a problem like Maria? How do you think you'll enjoy your new problem of having no time for dessert!"
So where's the line? Of course, mealtime isn't playtime, but how much of a drag should I make the process by nagging, threatening and laying the hairy eyeball on her every time she drops the fork? Seriously, I'm asking.


  1. I think the only solution is to drop a net over her until the food's gone.
    Or just make her drink harsh protein shakes every 2 hours?

  2. Thanks for your thoughts, Saf. I'm going to get her an IV.

  3. The rule in our house? If dinner starts to drag out too long and she claims she cannot eat any more, we cut her loose. HOWEVER, if she is hungry before bedtime, she is only allowed to eat the rest of her dinner or some fruit. Dinners now run (usually) for an acceptable period of time.


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