Why, oh why, do I cook? Do I really think it’s worth embarking on a task that is literally as time-consuming, mentally and physically exhausting, and tedious as running a marathon is a good idea? Not that I’ve actually run a marathon but my hair and body stench after 2.5 hours in the kitchen seem to be comparable to a marathon runner’s. Well, I’m not actually IN the kitchen the entire 2.5 hours…I’m also tending to my kids’ precious needs around the rest of the house:
3 year old: “Mama, Bam bite me.”
Baby: “Ba-ba. BA-BA. BAA-BAAAAA.”
3 year old: “Mama, more ‘Blaze and the Monster Machine’….NOW.”
Baby’s brain: “OHHH, this toilet looks fun.”
3 year old: “Mama, I hungry. I want mashed potatoes…NOW.”
Baby’s brain: “OHHH, this toothbrush looks fun. Maybe I should put it IN the toilet.”
Me: “Oh. My. God! WHY IS THIS SO FREAKIN’ DIFFICULT!”
All the while, I’m tackling a Pinterest recipe labeled “EASY. Anybody can do it.” If by “anybody” you mean a sous-chef in a 5-star kitchen with hired illegal aliens working around the clock, then maybe. But this ain’t easy over here in toddler-ville. I had to google what the hell zesting a lime means. “Zest is enthusiasm, energy and excitement or the very outside of the peel of a citrus fruit.” … “Hmmm, interesting. I should put enthusiasm, energy and excitement into this meal? Oh, wait, the outside of the peel of a citrus fruit makes more sense, right? I’ll just throw the whole damn fruit in to save time.”
So after I managed to throw together a meal without slicing anybody’s finger off, it was dinner time. I put a lot of effort into this meal. My kids are bound to love it.
3 year old: “I don’t WANT this dinner. I want mashed potatoes…NOW.”
Me: “Eat the dinner, sweet angel of mine. Mama loves you.”
3 year old: “NO. I don’t WANT to eat this. I don’t HAVE to.”
Me: “Honey, if you eat it, I’ll heat up the mashed potatoes.”
3 year old: “EWWW, NO. Me not eat this. Me not eat this NOW.”
Me: “You are about to go in time out. Stop yelling.”
3 year old: “I DON’T WANT TO EAT THIS.”
My Brain: “Put the fucking food in your mouth. Put it in your mouth NOW you little shit.”
Me: “You don’t have to eat it. Your choice. Be hungry.”
At this moment, I can’t help but remember as I was preparing the spices for this delicious meal, Olaf was staring at me, laughing in pity. Even a fucking talking snowman knew this was an impossible feat from the start.
This is all going down without my husband, as he’s off working late…probably sitting in silence somewhere. So in order to avoid a complete meltdown, I take the boys outside to play, leaving 4 dishwasher loads and 2 landfills spread out over my kitchen…everywhere. “Maybe my husband will clean this up when he gets home,” said no one ever.
Our pediatrician’s office has the usual signage on the walls regarding the appropriate amount of fruits and vegetables toddlers should be getting to remain healthy and “thriving.” (I’ve never understood that word applied to children. If they made it to the doctor’s office alive and breathing, they’re thriving.) Anyways, I try. I really do. I bribe my kids. I sacrifice animals to the gods. I offer stickers and treats as rewards. I play hardball. I play softball. I play good cop. I play bad cop. The bottom line is if a toddler doesn’t want to eat, they won’t. I don’t care what your logic says about “if they get hungry, they will eat it.” No, that’s actually false information. If they get hungry, they will fucking drive you insane. And you will be miserable. The bribing and positive reinforcement has at least led us in the right direction. But I have stopped having the unrealistic expectation that my children will get the exact number of the recommended servings of *organic* fruits and vegetables EVERY SINGLE DAY. Some days we win the healthy award, some days we lose. And we lose badly. And guess what people? My kids are still thriving based on the level of noise and energy in this house.
So I will continue to cook the easy aka RIDICULOUS recipes I find on Pinterest. I will continue to stuff my face with broccoli while my kids just stare at me thinking “wtf is wrong with you? We know you’re lying about that being good.” And I will continue to offer them fruit as a snack instead of goldfish…sometimes. My husband says it best: “Just put something green on their plate. They at least have to look at it.” Damn straight they do.