Thursday, March 22, 2012

The True Hunger Games

"Non riesco a sopportare quelli che non prendono seriamente il cibo." (I can't stand people that do not take food seriously.) -Oscar Wilde

Apologies to those of you who have not yet had the pleasure of getting totally engrossed in the thrilling hit trilogy by Suzanne Collins featuring reluctant heroine Katniss Everdeen. I promise the title to this post and the previous sentence are the only references to the books and now, the movie.

For a different kind of revolution is budding nightly at our dinner table. And Peanut is playing the role of the strong, silent, accidental leader of the cause. She plays her own coy game most nights. It starts with a distraction. She asks us how our days were.  She lures us in by asking follow-up questions that make her seem interested. First mommy: How many meetings did you have? With how many students? What were their names? Then me: How many guests on your show? What were their names?

There have been times where not even a
 Disney birthday treat has amused her.
While all of this back-and-forth is taking place, Peanut is eating very little of her dinner. But My Director and I are. So we remind her, "If we're done and you're not, we're going to get up and you're going to have to sit by yourself." She initially protests. Then, recognizing The Hunger Games are life or death, she nods her head like a good soldier. And unenthusiastically shovels a bite of food into her mouth. All while trying to show her strength by staring you down.

When you finally look away, she gives you a subtle roll of her eyes, a direct act of defiance to what she considers typical parental propaganda. And she does this regardless of whether she likes the meal. It could be one of my delicious stews, or hamburgers and tater tots. (Don't judge.)

But why? Why this deliberate act of defiance from a rebellious child? What happened to her telling me how hungry she was as I was cooking? When she begged me for another snack and I said no because dinner was almost ready? Then throwing a fit as if I were torturing her.

And snack time is another opportunity for a mini-Hunger Games. She states she's hungry. I offer a banana. She asks for a cookie. I say no, have a banana, She freaks out. I say you must not be that hungry if you don't want a banana. She freaks out even more.

But there is usually no tantrum at dinner. It's all psychological warfare. A survival of the fittest. She'll try to entertain us, balancing a piece of spaghetti on her nose and tongue. And when I respond with, "I'd like you to stop playing with your food and eat it," she'll shut down. We know we've broken her when she gives us the elbow-on-the-table/hand-on-the-head pose, a pose I perfected when I refused to eat my pasta e fagioli growing up:
Reenactment. (And Go SU!)
I admit, I am totally the I-worked-all-day-then-cooked-you-a-healthy-and-delicious-meal-so-you're-going-to-eat-it dad. Still, she plays her game. One day she'll understand that the object of the game - what will make her strongest - is simply to eat her dinner. 

11 comments:

  1. If my Youngest spent a quarter of the time actually doing what it was he was trying to get out of, well, there'd be a spare 14 hours in the day.

    Really.

    I finally gave up on the hunger games when I realized he needed to eat all day long. Small portions, all day. So he has a yogurt at 6am, a milk at 9. Snack sized portions at 10, 11, 12, 1 and 2. (Because kids at school don't actually EAT lunch at lunchtime it's more of a social time, or so I'm told) At 4 he has a snack again, then dinner.

    I'm told it has something to do with his blood sugar levels. Simply put, he crashes and has a terrible day if he has nothing to level him out.

    Whatever. He's still alive. I'll take it as a small victory.

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    1. And that is the object of the Hunger Games, is it not? Survival. Well done.

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  2. I appreciated this so much! It's a battle every night for us...well, pretty much every meal...but dinner is the worst. He curls up on his chair, becoming not visible to the rest of us as he is under the table in this position...and says he's too tired...which makes us too tired to deal with it every time. Glad we're not the only ones! Loved your pictures! Cute!

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Sometimes I think it's my cooking... but My Director says it's delicious. Hahaha.

      And I couldn't find a picture of me doing that pose as a child. I need to raid my mom's stash next time I'm home.

      Delete
  3. I am so happy to know that this battles wages at other dinner tables. Though here, my oldest begun it and my other two have followed in his footsteps. It happens on nights I try new recipes that in all honesty could be questionable, and even on nights that I make something they have eaten before and loved. My kids could eat their dinner and be back outside playing in less time than they spend distracting us and complaining! Great post!

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    1. New recipes I can understand. I even give her a pass most times if it's something new. But when she gives me a hard time with my staple meals - stuff she LIKES and has eaten dozens of times - I get crazed.

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  4. TOTALLY recognize that pose. My girls don't do it - yet - but my younger brother was a pro! He would often shield his eyes with his hand when he got into trouble at the table, then peek through his fingers when he thought no one was watching. Now, he has a little boy who does the same thing! The Hunger Games are on full force at our house...my oldest just turned 4, and up until now has been a wonderful dining companion. Lately, we get the same defiant psychological warfare that you do. It must be the age!

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    Replies
    1. What the heck is with the agen then?! Out of the blue, she's a rebellious eater. Little cretins.

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  5. Good luck and I hope it is just a phase. If you find something that works let me know. My daughter is a non-eater and always has been. Dinner time is a fight every night.

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    Replies
    1. It depends on the night, and the meal. But if she's tired, she's going to be difficult even if I'm serving cookies and ice cream. She's never been a bad eater. So I'm sorry I don't have any solution as of now. This is new to us. But we don't give in. And she knows there are punishments. So that's a start. Any updates I'll let you know.

      Delete
  6. It's a matter of eat what's put in front of you or don't eat. It is a Hunger Game. A neurotypical kid will eat when they're hungry. Let her go hungry.

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