Wednesday, August 3, 2011

I Hate Mealtimes

I long for the day when I cook a nice meal (be it breakfast, lunch, or dinner) and every person sits down to the meal gratefully, eats it without complaint or thirty minute tantrum, and then takes his/her empty plate to the kitchen counter by the sink.

It sounds like a pipe dream, frankly.

I am inexpressibly frustrated by our mealtimes.  It doesn't matter which meal, it doesn't matter what I cook (and I'm a decent cook) least one of the kids is bound to hate it and end up shrieking on the floor.  This morning's breakfast (which all three kids would have loved three weeks ago; heck, three days ago) is still staring me in the face as I write this.  I was so mad about the virtually-untouched meals that I shipped all three kids out into the backyard with their bubble containers, so that I could vent for a moment here.

I cut up fresh fruit, soft-poached eggs just the way they all like(d) it, toasted and buttered their favourite bread, and even poured them a bit of orange juice left-over from Geoff's Birthday last week (we don't normally do juice).  I cut up their runny eggs all over the toast, drizzled ketchup overtop, and gave it to them with a smile.  One child immediately said "no eggs, Mommy," and dropped to the floor screaming; another kid (who ate six eggs at one sitting just weeks ago) tentatively tried a bite and then wrinkled her nose and spit; and the third kid never even got around to trying a bite because he was trying in vain to swallow a fish oil pill that I told him he wouldn't be able to swallow and to please wait for the liquid version that I would get him shortly.

I sat there at the table and ate my eggs, all the while feeling resentful of the fact that I couldn't enjoy them, and knowing that the next few hours would be difficult because the kids would be hungry until snack time.

Every single meal time, I think of a friend who, a couple of years back, also got tired of how her kids treated mealtime and eventually threw out her kid's meal when he complained about it; and the complaining stopped.  That's what I want to do.  I sat at the table with the kids just a while ago and my fingers were itching (physically itching) to grab their plates and toss them, lock stock and barrel, into the garbage can.  My blood is still boiling, just thinking about how badly I wanted to do it.  I just know that I can't quite do that (yet) though, because the younger kids are dealing with both attachment and some food issues.  Weeks ago, I stopped short-order cooking (which I did for the first few weeks that the younger kids came home) and for the past few days I've given Seth his uneaten lunch at snack time before he can enjoy the food he usually loves at afternoon snack (various home baked loaves; fruit; yogurt; etc).  So we are making some progress.

But still, I have to confess that every time I get to prepping a meal, I am filled with dread.  I may as well not be spending so much time making relatively healthy, home-cooked meals and just pop a frozen cheese pizza on the table for every meal (not that the kids would even agree on that).  My long-term goal is the dream I stated above; I hope we get there some day.  In the meantime, sigh, it's time to toss the rest of breakfast into the garbage and contemplate going out for dinner tonight, to a restaurant where someone else can be the short-order cook for one meal.


  1. We had some food-related control issues initially, and some adjustments related to doing things a bit differently (e.g., we all sat down at the same time, and were expected to sit until finished - they were used to a more informal structure, with some wandering involved, and folks hand-feeding when they got bored/distracted). With far fewer attachment & adjustment issues involved in our case, I did quite quickly move to excusing children who fussed about what was offered (asking them to leave the room if they continued to cry/scream/whine and spoil the mood for everyone else), removing unfinished plates when everyone else was done (our one little guy gets distracted and dawdles, but CAN finish with us all if he concentrates and keeps up the effort), and serving the previous meal more than once (if necessary) until it was finished. Far fewer issues now (although the slow eating haunts us every now and then). Hoping you can find some solutions (sounds like re-serving the same food is a good idea) that fit with where the kids are at in terms of attachment/transition, and that work for you as well.

  2. I totally understand how you feel... Hang on my friend.

  3. your mealtime sounds like suppertime here, almost every day, minus tantrums but including pickiness/complaining. Sadly, we are not dealing with attachment/food issues. Just frustrating pickiness. I dread supper some days. I've tried the reserving; sometimes that has worked. I like the idea of removing the meal when someone complains. You are not alone in this, and not to be discouraging, it is not solely limited to those recently home......

  4. Very familiar situation. lol
    Don't feel bad about serving frozen pizza. Sometimes you just have to do what is easy.
    Merk is a very picky eater. And like your children changes what he likes quickly. Right now he eats cereal for the majority of his meals and snacks. (last week it was PB sandwiches) He also has a habit of asking for things or being served something and then not eating it. I leave it out until he eats it. I don't let him have something else until he eats it. So he eventually eats it. He doesn't seem to mind that it has been sitting on the table for 4 hours!

    Go out for dinner tonight!


  5. Sigh- sounds like many of our mealtime meltdowns(this is often what my husband sees of the kids when he gets home from work). I dream that one day my girls will actually sit still on their chairs, and my youngest will use a utensil...any utensil would be wonderful, I'm not picky!!! :) Hope you had that dinner out.

  6. Oh wow, I too hope you got that dinner out!

    I **TOTALLY** relate. You've described it so well. I've gotta say, the only reason we don't eat cheese pizza around here is that MY CHILDREN WILL NOT EVEN EAT CHEESE PIZZA. How is that possible? Drives me crazy, especially as I love cooking /eating. I was so sure I wouldn't have picky eaters. I try SO hard not to let it upset me but it really does my head in.

    I found some of 'child of mine' (Ellyn satter) really helpful, but other bits of it just made me feel guilty and depressed. So - read it if you want, but with a strong drink in your other hand!

  7. So frustrating!!! Honestly, the only person I have troubles with with meals is my husband. I wish I could send him to the yard with bubbles!!!!! (Sometimes.)