There's nothing I dread more than the dinnertime hour. Okay, that's a lie. I do dread cleaning out the bathtub more, but only by a very tiny margin.
I shake my fists indignantly at the television whenever I see those big, robust family gatherings with hearty meals that everyone digs right into. Kids included. Yeah, I know they're advertisements and not real life, but I can't help but wonder: what kind of Kool-Aid are those kids drinking?
Moreover, where can I get some?
Dinnertime at my house couldn't be any more different than those saccharine-sweet commercials, and not just because I don't own a single pastel-colored cardigan.
I have an autistic 9-year-old son. He's the kind of kid who, as a toddler, ate precisely three things: oatmeal, graham crackers, and white rice. I actually thought the whole baby food aisle was an elaborate hoax. His repertoire isn't much different now, although he'll throw pizza, bagels, and hot dogs into that mix.
I tried everything back then to get him to eat. Fruit smoothies, wholesome muffins with vegetables neatly hidden inside, even forcing him to try the food on his plate in an effort to see that, really, it wasn't so bad. Pizza was pretty tasty, in fact! (My own ass, composed almost entirely of pizza, should know.)
And still, he wouldn't eat. My friends with kids gloated over how well their children ate while mine sobbed into his wicked chicken nuggets.
His brother was born when he was 5 and I was thrilled, delighted, and shocked when he not only ate, but ate heartily and happily, grabbing the food from my fork as I tried to feed myself.
The newer and more exciting the food, the better. Oh how I remember those days fondly.
As he showcased his personality as the Most Stubborn Human Known to Man, he began to reject his dinner, too. Typical toddler stuff. I've done my deep-breathing each time he's left his dinner untouched, remembering that this, too, will pass.
Now I have one child, my last, my daughter, who will happily tuck in anything I set in front of her. Certainly, she's as willful as the two before her, but in this case, she's more than happy to try different foods, so long as I allow her to choose her clothes.
(God help the poor soul who insists that she wear something she deems unsuitable.)
Let the record show that I am no cook. I've never found an ounce of joy while thoughtfully constructing a meal for my family*, but I think that it's the Picky Eaters Club that really put the nail in that particular coffin. Who the hell wants to spend an hour preparing something that makes their family burst into tears?
A stronger person than I.
So for now, I'll simply cook whatever it is that they'll all eat and hope that the Picky Eaters Club shall one day be disassembled.
Until then, I'll survive this phase.
*my thighs prove that I am, however, an excellent baker.