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Broke Wife, Big City
negotiating for dinner?
By Aprill Brandon
I’m not exactly sure when it happened. I have a feeling it was
something like when you go broke: gradually, then all at once. But
somehow our nightly family dinners have turned into a one big
negotiation (occasionally escalating into a full-blown hostage
It doesn’t matter what I make. It doesn’t matter how many options I
give. It doesn’t matter that it’s Friday and it’s been a long week and
I’m so over it and mentally checked out around 3 p.m.
My kids never want to eat the dinner I make them.
Well, I take back that last part. My toddler does have a very specific
list of things he’ll eat.
Mac and cheese (but only the boxed, chemically-loaded kind…so help you
if you give him a homemade cheesy pasta containing anything that
resembles a nutrient).
End of list.
He’s cut out apples and crackers and spaghetti and sausage and eggs and
corn and the actual chicken part of chicken tenders. All things I used
to be able to get him to eat. He’s worse than when you invite your high
maintenance friend over for a dinner party and she’s always on some
ridiculous diet and acts like it’s YOUR fault that she can’t eat
anything because pretty much all the food in your kitchen contains
sugar, flour, gluten, fat, soy, chemicals and everything that makes
life worth living.
And my 9-month-old is almost as bad as my toddler. I made the mistake
of letting her try fruit and now she realizes what a sham vegetables
are and spits out anything that is not fruit.
But I did not ruin my body, and my sanity, and my freedom, and that
part of my brain that can remember if I’ve seen this TV episode before
or not, keeping them alive and healthy for three years only to watch
them starve to death because I dared to give them a well-balanced meal.
So, every night, it goes like this:
Toddler: Mommy, I’m all done.
Me: You haven’t eaten anything.
Toddler: Yeah. Cause I’m all done.
Baby: *sound of mashed peas being spit out*
Me: You need to take three bites of mashed potatoes.
Toddler: One bites?
Toddler: Then I get Girl Scout Cookies?
Me: No. Someone ate all those while hiding and crying in the bathroom
Me: Don’t worry about it.
Baby: *sound of spoon hitting the ground because she whacked it out of
Toddler: I can’t, Mommy.
Me: Then you’ll just have to sit there while the rest of us eat.
Baby: *emits tiny Viking warrior princess yell because I shoved more
peas in her gaping maw*
Toddler: Can I have raisins?
Me: No…(semi-worried he may actually starve to death)…ok, fine, you can
have some raisins IF you eat three bites of mashed potatoes and one
bite of meatloaf.
Toddler: Nah. I’ll just sit here then.
Me: (don’t give in, don’t give in, don’t give in) …ok, fine, two bites
of mashed potatoes (damn it).
Toddler: One bites.
Toddler: ONE! *starts crying*
Baby: *grabs jar of mashed peas and dumps it on her head*
Toddler: Where you going, Mommy?
Me: To get raisins. I give up. And to get Mommy some of her Mommy
Toddler: Do you mean wine?
Me: Shut up and eat your raisins.
Call me weak if you must but feeding your children is a primal NEED. I
NEED to feed their whiny little faces. Need it unlike anything I’ve
ever needed before. Eat! I internally scream in my head pretty much on
a daily basis. Or I’ll die! Eat anything! I don’t care anymore! Just.
And trust me, I did the hard ass routine. I’d make that kid sit in his
chair until he ate all (then, ok fine, three, then two, then one, then
how about you just lick it to see if you like it?) carrots. And every
time it ended the same way: Three hours later, both of us angry and
crying, and exactly zero carrots licked.
So, for all our mental health, I backed off. They both respond better
to honey than vinegar (just don’t try to give them actual honey…or
Which is how we got here. Sitting around the dinner table. Making
complicated and ridiculous mediations like a family of rich people in
the midst of a strained but somewhat amicable divorce.
Two green beans for a fourth a cup of yogurt. One BIG bite of rice for
the rest of Mommy’s cake. More milk if you finish the chicken part of
the chicken nugget. I’ll take the beach house and you can have the
I hope someday it gets better. And I cling to this hope like it’s the
last life jacket on the Titanic.
But just like the Titanic, I know deep down I’m doomed. That dinner
will always be some version of this.
At least until they go to college and almost drown in the lukewarm
waters of Ramen noodles made in a coffee maker.
Who hates Mommy’s lasagna now, suckers?
Can’t get enough of Aprill? Can’t wait until next week?
Check out her website at http://aprillbrandon.com/