Dinner time is my Vietnam

Every night I feed my kids dinner.  I try to make things that they enjoy.  I don’t try to feed them liver and onions, haggis or peas.  I make nuggets, mac & cheese, pizza, chicken, fish, burgers, tater tots, rice, noodles, tacos, etc.  All kid favorites.  However, it never fails that by the end of what is usually an hour long struggle, I feel like I have just emerged from the heart of an asian conflict in the jungle.

Here is a script of a normal dinner:

6:00  Mom starts making dinner.  This night it is salmon, rice and green beans (it’s green beans almost every night since it is the one veggie both boys like).

6:30 “Dinner Time!!  Go wash your hands and go potty before dinner.”

6:35  Kids sit down to dinner and start eating.  Mom helps feed little one and supervises oldest’s progress.  Both kids enjoy the food and begin eating it willingly.  Mom & kids talk about the day.

6:45  Because oldest is talking so much, he has not been eating very much.  First time Mom has to say “take a bite” to the oldest.  This will not be the last time tonight.

6:55  Eating slows down as their little bellies start getting a bit fuller.  Mom has had to say “take a bite” about 5 times by now.

7:00  Mom starts to get a little frustrated that kids have been sitting at the table a full half hour and not even half of their food is gone.  Kids have started singing and making faces at each other to make each other laugh.  There is lots of giggling.  However, very little eating is happening at this point.  Once again “take a bite” is said to oldest.  Also, “no singing at the table.”  (please note that they are usually singing Lady Gaga, Miley Cyrus or Ke$ha.  There is only so much Mom can handle).

7:10  Mom realizes that since the little one’s bedtime is 7:30, there is very little chance he will finish his dinner with enough time to play.  Mom tells little one this.  Words have no effect.  Mom tells oldest to stop singing and being crazy and take a bite!  Mom tells little one to turn around and put his bottom in the seat, stop playing with his milk, lean over when he takes a bite . . . then picks up rice from his lap.

7:15  Mom actually says this to oldest “we do not play with our feet during dinner, put your feet down and stop picking at your toes” . . . followed immediately by this “and we definitely don’t then pick up our green beans with our feety fingers and put them in our mouth!!”  At this point the “take a bite” count is well over 50.  Mom tells youngest that napkins are not hats and to swallow the bite he has had in his mouth for 5 whole minutes.

7:20  Mom has started to lose her mind a little.  She has started raising her voice to a very high octave and telling oldest that she can’t believe it will almost be an hour and he still isn’t finished his dinner.  She will once again tell him to TAKE A BITE!!!  Usually the little one is about done at this point.  Since Mom has physically been putting forkfuls of food in his mouth the entire time, almost all of his dinner is gone.  Mom is tired of fighting.  And yelling.  And sitting at the goddamn table.  Mom needs a drink.

7:25  Little one finishes dinner.  He gets a couple minutes to play before bed.  Oldest asks how many more bites he has to take.  Mom calculates and tells him 2 more green beans, 3 more fish, 2 more rice.  Oldest eats those within about 30 seconds, anything to be done his dinner and get away from the screaming banshee that has replaced his otherwise loving Mom.

7:30  If the hubs is in town and/or not hiding in his office at this point, this is when he might decide to do bedtime for the little one because he sees that “Mom looks like she needs a break.”  Mom gets up from her pretzel sitting position, hobbles over to the fridge, and pours a great big glass of wine, aka Mommy juice. 

Lest you think this is the end of Mom’s day, you are mistaken.  This is usually the time that Mom either puts the little one to bed (if the hubs is not around, which is lots), or does homework with the oldest (if hubs is upstairs with little), or in the alternate, lets oldest watch baseball for an hour before bed.  We always watch baseball.  It’s sort of depressing because our team stinks, but oldest is a die-hard fan.  So baseball.  Every night.  Yay.  Go team.

What is your dinner time ritual?  Is it as fun and exciting as mine?  Any suggestions as to how I don’t kill my kids during this skirmish, err family bonding time?  Please share in the comments . . .


29 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. lisa
    Sep 19, 2011 @ 10:09:21

    Oh Lord woman, I feel your pain. Dinner often starts with arguing because the kid wants to eat in front of the TV. Her: “Whhhhhyyyy can’t I eat and watch TV Mom?!?”, Me: “Because we’re going to eat dinner like a family.”, Her: “But I don’t want to eat dinner like a family.”, Me: “Too bad. No go sit down at the table.” Argument 1 down.
    The next argument comes when she looks at her plate and decides she either doesn’t want to eat any of what I’ve given her or just wants to eat some, but not all. Her: “I’m just going to eat my lettuce (what she calls salad), but not my chicken.”, Me: “No you’re going to eat your lettuce and your chicken.”, Her: “But whyyyyyyyy?”, Me: “Because you can’t just have lettuce for dinner.” There’s a bit more back and forth, but I won’t bore you with the details. It usually ends up with me or the hubby saying “I bet you can’t eat your chicken like a big girl. You’re a baby, so do you dare eat that chicken like a big girl.” End of argument 2.
    She eats a bit while we play our “don’t eat that game” and then pulls out the “I’m full” card when she feels she should be done eating and can move on to a popsicle or fruit snacks…whatever it is she wants for dessert. We then fight about how if she’s full she shouldn’t have any room for dessert and she informs us she’s full of whatever it is we’re having for dinner. Then comes arguing about how she needs to eat real food before dessert and a bunch of whiney “Whyyyyyyyyys?” (she just started this in the past month and I swear I’m going to rip that word from her vocabulary and stop all over it). We finally tell her she has to either eat so many more bites or no dessert or sometimes there is even the threat of going right to bed before she’ll come back and eat really quick.
    Oh and don’t even get me started on the few tantrums she’s had over merely trying something. We don’t make her eat stuff that she doesn’t like we just ask her to try it. I swear we are so mean. As I’m sure you are too. In fact you torture your kids with Salmon…I’d say that’s pretty freaking mean. 😛
    So as you can see by my much needed vent…dinner is exhausting at our house too. I always feel like I need a nap afterwards.


    • mistyslaws
      Sep 20, 2011 @ 08:48:18

      Ah yes, the whining. I didn’t even mention when my oldest comes over to the table, sees what I made (not usually salmon, the horror!!) and goes, “awwwww, I don’t want thiiiissssss” in full on whine. To which I respond “too bad, sit down and eat.” Oh and the “I’m full” and then 2 minutes later asking for a snack? Yep, got that one as well. Fun times!!


  2. Jen
    Sep 19, 2011 @ 11:19:13

    DINNERTIME B.D. (Before Divorce):
    Mommy slaves away at a healthy, organic, four-course meal that is eaten at the dining room table. Napkins are in laps, children are well-behaved, Daddy is hiding his girlfriend’s cum stains on his pants, and Mommy is most likely drunk.

    DINNERTIME A.D. (After Divorce):
    Mommy is throwing Happy Meal boxes into the backseat screaming “Heads up!” as she drives from daycare to Tae Kwon Do to speech therapy to school. Children still relatively well-behaved, Daddy has declared bankruptcy and been dumped by girlfriend, and Mommy is no longer drunk. . .so, you know, we’ve got that goin’ for us.


    • mistyslaws
      Sep 20, 2011 @ 08:49:34

      Yeah, all that organic 4 course meal with napkins on laps is highly overrated. Especially if everything else is falling apart. I like your current version much better. Healthier, even with the McNuggets! 🙂


      • Jen
        Sep 20, 2011 @ 12:48:58

        Thought about y’all while the boys and I were sitting on the couch watching “Firefly” and eating peanut butter straight from the jar for dinner last night. In my defense, I did insist they eat some carrot sticks too. . .I’m OK with not getting the Mother of the Year award; I just hope no one calls CSD on my ass.


  3. wagthedad
    Sep 19, 2011 @ 15:10:47

    Our ritual is mom and dad try to fill their stomachs before any of the evil offspring start screaming. I admire your courage and perseverance. We don’t worry about picking toes, eating toe jelly, or backwash in the potatoes.

    The only thing we’re still clinging to is trying to get our daughter to put both buns on her chair while she eats. Her fidgety is more like I’m standing at a bar and can’t wait to get the hell back out on the dance floor.

    Generally, neither one of us can get enough foot before someone screams, punches, or requires a breast to be milked. I think I’m getting an ulcer, too.

    But both of us are losing weight. So we may be all sexy and stuff by the end of it.

    I like this post. When I first saw the title, I was thinking, “Misty’s in the SHIT.”


    • mistyslaws
      Sep 20, 2011 @ 08:51:36

      Dinner time hell = weight loss ritual. I like it. You need an infomercial.

      That was totally going to be my title. “I’m in the SHIT.” But I went with the alternate to be a bit more PG since this is a post about the kiddies, which is rare for me. But don’t think that isn’t what I was thinking! 🙂


  4. Jaclyn
    Sep 19, 2011 @ 15:20:02

    I saw the title of your post and I didn’t even need to read it to know you had small children. My daughter is 16 months and you aren’t helping me to believe it eventually gets better. My mom had a trick when we were younger that I NEVER caught on to. She would double our portions and when we fought her about eating she would say “ok. If you eat half you can leave the table”. I guess I was a dumb kid because she did this almost every night and none of us ever caught on.


    • mistyslaws
      Sep 20, 2011 @ 08:53:46

      Well, it does get better in some ways, but you do have a child. Your life will never be stress-free. Sorry to burst your bubble. 🙂

      The only thing with that is I feel like I waste so much food already with the amounts I have to throw away, that if I doubled the amount, we would probably still sit there for an hour and then throw away twice as much. It’s not really the amount with them, they just don’t focus on eating so much and want to fuck around. If it works for you though, go for it.


  5. Jen
    Sep 19, 2011 @ 16:40:06

    Jacly, your mom is an evil GENIUS! I am SO using that tactic with my son J (aka. Kate Moss). That kid won’t eat squat.


  6. mychaoticbubble
    Sep 19, 2011 @ 17:31:00

    Omg were you sitting at my table with my kids? That sounds the same here!!
    Although my son (I have 2) who is 3.5yrs, when he is threatened with going straight to bed, he will actually say yes to see if I have the sticks to actually take him there and put him in it!!
    Meal times are a nightmare in this house, I literally hate them most of the time, in fact sometimes I will plonk them in front of the tv with food and run and hide!!
    See how many exclamation marks I had to use to emphasize my point lol

    Good Luck in your house 😀

    Oh and I think I too am going to double servings, they’ll never know teehee


    • mistyslaws
      Sep 20, 2011 @ 08:56:43

      My youngest is also 3.5 and I use the “go to bed” threat nightly. The only times he calls my bluff is if he is just really miserably tired and wants to go, then I’m like, ok then, let’s go. He usually changes his mind once upstairs. My kids know that I don’t play though, and if I finally say it is bed time, they are going upstairs, so they tend not to call my bluff. I have put them up to bed many a time. Occassionally, I will let them come back down, but only after the crying has stopped and they are ready to sincerely apologize for being assholes and promise to eat. This usually works well, but takes a good 15-20 minutes out of dinner time, so I try to avoid it.

      Good luck to you, too!!


  7. hoodyhoo
    Sep 20, 2011 @ 08:07:31

    This is why I can’t have kids — just yesterday, Chuckweasel took like 5 bites of the dinner I had so meticulously prepared (alright, baked in the oven) and announced that he was “full.” So as not to waste it, I ended up eating TWO helpings of baked spaghetti and about an entire loaf of garlic bread and suffering severe Sigourney-Weaver-esque gastrointestinal distress. Can you IMAGINE how fat I’d be if I had KIDS???


    • mistyslaws
      Sep 20, 2011 @ 08:58:01

      You should have sent him to his room!!

      Yeah, I hate all the food I have to throw away and usually will find myself snacking on the youngest’s plate since I know he’s not gonna eat it all.

      I have kids. I am fat. Let this be a warning to you.


      • Jen
        Sep 20, 2011 @ 10:46:36

        Yeah, it is way to fucking easy to fall into the whole “Are you gonna finish those fries?” routine with the short people. Kids = muffin top. Ain’t no two ways about it.


  8. Paula @ thewilyweez
    Sep 20, 2011 @ 09:13:42

    We had to set a timer last night for E…12 minutes to eat 3 dumplings…wtf


    • mistyslaws
      Sep 20, 2011 @ 11:19:10

      We instilled a timer type thing for a while where we would look up at the big clock on the wall and tell oldest that he had until the 1 or 2 (5 after/10 after) or he would just go right to bed. It worked for a bit, but when he wasn’t done by then, we would usually relent and give 5 more minutes, so he realized that we didn’t really mean it. We did send him a couple times to show him we were serious. But it fizzled after a while because we were doing it every night for a while.


  9. JustMe
    Sep 20, 2011 @ 14:54:53

    My dad used to do “Shark Bite,” “Baby Bite,” when we were kids. “Shark Bites” were obviously ploys to get us to eat giant mouthfuls of vegetables.


  10. thoughtsappear
    Sep 21, 2011 @ 07:57:32

    Waaaait…you have to feed kids dinner? They don’t just fend for themselves? Having kids sounds hard.


    • mistyslaws
      Sep 22, 2011 @ 15:11:04

      Nah, piece of cake. Want me to send mine over to your place for a few weeks so you can see just how easy they are? Really, no charge. My gift to you.


  11. Kelly Fox
    Sep 22, 2011 @ 16:20:20

    Super easy trick. No more snacks. Yes, I know, I’m a cruel heartless bitch mom, but it works! No snacks after 2. Then some sort of physical activity in the afternoon, that leaves them hungry. Hungry kids eat.


  12. cornfedgirl
    Sep 23, 2011 @ 22:24:55

    Yep- we are living parallel lives, except I yell “Why are your FEET ON THE TABLE? Not Okay!”
    And then I drink wine.


  13. Team Suzanne
    Sep 25, 2011 @ 11:27:34

    I’ve got no answers. My oldest loves food, takes meals seriously and eats well. My youngest cannot be bothered with food becuase the time between 5:30 pm and bedtime is comedy hour and she’s on.

    I have made it somewhat better by clarifying for them that dinner should not be a boat load of fun. Do not come to the table expecting to laugh your ass off and have the time of your life. So, for example, if you’re dunking bread in milk and watching it float, and dying of hysterics and then you fall of your chair–you’re not doing it right. We’re here to eat, and talk, all in subdued tones. It’s not a party. It’s a damn family meal.


  14. Kande
    Jan 12, 2012 @ 00:43:42

    Reading through posts late as new to site. That last comment makes me snicker! My kids are six years apart. The oldest is great at dinner now. She eats well and is usually too full for dessert. The toddler is the ham-bone described above – right down to the dunking food in her drink! She will be on sippycups forever as we need to keep her separated from an open glass of fluid! My night problem is she is hungry after daycare so NEEDS a snack – as I can’t make even a semi-healthy meal in time to avoid meltdown – but then too full for dinner. I also relate to the mom with the fidgiting kid! She never asks or food before bed though, if anything she may want fruit a half after dinner ends, so she must be genuinely not hungry. My bigger problem is filling bellies in the a .m. as they afe tired but we are rushed. And daycare doesn’t allow outide food brought in. Most mornings I nag the eldest to hurry but the youngest is done just in time on her own. But some mornings she surprises me with a huge appetite and those mornings can get tense as she insists on needing more food, but we have 5 minutes until her older sister will miss the bus. Wrestling a toddler into winter wear is a walk in the park compared to wrestling a sleepy, hungry toddler into winter wear!


  15. Trackback: The Rules of Dinner « Misty's Laws
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