A couple of things I read recently prompted me to think about the way I feed my kids; the first was this post on one of my favourite blogs, dooce, about her older daughter who is an incredibly picky eater. The part that particularly resonated with me was when she talked about her therapist’s advice on handling mealtimes:
No more talk about food. If she asks about lunch? We shrug and say, “I dunno.” If she asks about dinner? We shrug and say, “I dunno,” knowing that we will fix her a plate of what we are eating that night. She doesn’t have to touch a thing, but if she sits there and complains, she’s more than welcome to go to her room for the rest of the evening. No more emotion over food. Ever, at all.
Although my girls are generally pretty good eaters, they can be choosy about what they eat, especially Alice. I’m undeniably guilty of perpetuating this tendency by accommodating her tastes and allowing her to have a say in what I cook, if only because I can’t bear the inevitable wasted food otherwise. (Maggie, if you’re somehow reading this, I’m sure you’re laughing hysterically by now.)
The second was a comment in a recipe from Nigella’s latest book, Kitchen:
Serve … to that most elusive of sounds; the appreciation of your children.
Ha, right, since when did the words appreciation and children appear in the same sentence?
So the cumulative effect of this was that when Alice asked about tea (about two hours early as usual) something in me, well, didn’t snap exactly, but just cracked a little. I told her I was in charge and she would have what I cooked, which would be soup as I’d originally planned. There was a scene as I predicted; sulking, shouting, stamping .. and she wasn’t that well behaved either.
But guess what? When I did serve up, she ate it all without further complaint. One of these days I may even get that elusive appreciation Nigella was banging on about.