It’s Sunday afternoon and I’m sat here after another hectic lunch with the kids. At the weekend it’s always slightly funnier, and easier to deal with, as I’m not shooting out the door within 20 minutes of managing to get the food, and kids, at the table.
In the two years since we’ve had two kids, we’ve never had a ‘quiet’ lunch. One without any screaming, fighting, crying, moaning, spilling, or just general madness. To be fair, most of it has been down to my daughter, who turned 2 last month.
My son was easy to feed as a youngster. We made the food, he opened his mouth, most of it went in, he swallowed, and we repeated until he turned his head or pushed the bowl in our faces, or down my work trousers.
My daughter, however, seems to relate feeding time with screaming time. It’s a completely different ball game. We make the food, but whether she eats it or not depends on her mood. She could open her mouth, but only half a spoonful would go in before she spits it out, or pulls it out with her hand and shakes it in the air, or wipes it in her- or my- hair.
If she doesn’t like the colour, look, or smell, she might just stare at us while keeping her lips firmly pressed. Most of the time we have to trick or bribe her into eating, but she’s wising up to that now. To be fair, for the last 2 months or so, ever since we let her sit with us at the table instead of in her high chair, she’s been much better and manages to eat a few spoonfuls before trying to escape – because escaping is exactly what she does.
So today, while I was entertaining the kids by cutting out random transport shapes, my wife slaved away in the kitchen and got a classic Sunday meal of burgers and chips (real chips done in a real chip fryer) ready.
“A la mesa,” she said as she came in, ordering us to get up at the table. The kids ran for it, as if a gold medal was up for grabs; today in the shape of a burger. As we sat down it suddenly dawned on me that my daughter has never liked burgers. What were we thinking while browsing the meat counter at Mercadona? Why didn’t we go for the chicken?
Probably because I fancied a burger.
I was over the moon at the thought of tucking into mine; it had cheese, tomato, bacon, and even a slice of fresh spinach – my new healthy friend.
Then the fun began, or war commenced.
First my daughter wouldn’t even take a sniff of the burger.
“Go on, just try a bit,” I said, holding it up to her face and smiling.
The standard ‘no’ response was all I got as she leapt for the chips, and who could blame her; they were real chips, and extra chunky.
“The chips are cold,” said my son.
“Cold?” I said, but not surprised; my wife has a habit of getting her timing wrong when cooking (not that I ever tell her that when she serves the food).
I took a bite. They were cold.
“They’re not cold,” I said.
“Yes is cold.”
“But they’re nice. Look, even Claudia is eating them.”
Luckily my wife had a fresh batch (I take back that earlier comment), and they were warm, so down they went.
For about 2 minutes we sat in complete silence. The kids were scoffing back the chips, and me and my wife were digging into the burgers. Stupidly, I broke the silence.
“There’s no such thing as a quiet lunch,” I said to my wife.
“What do you mean?”
“We have an expression which says ‘there’s no such thing as a free lunch’ which means nothing is for free.”
“Oh yeah, like ‘nada es gratis en esta vida,’”
“I guess so, anyway, we should change that to ‘there’s no such thing as a quiet lunch.”
My wife laughed, knowing that our peaceful lunch was about to change, and just as she did my son started to cough. A strand of bacon had gone down the wrong hole and he had to spit it back up.
While we were both sorting out my son, my daughter managed to get down. I hadn’t even noticed; she’s a pro. I’m guessing she did her usual sly trick of moving across to sit on my lap, and then sliding to the floor, where she can get nearer to her play kitchen (another attempt at us to get her interested in food).
Once my son was over his traumatic encounter with a strand of bacon, I got my daughter back on my lap, and tried to get her to bite into the burger. She nibbled a little. I clapped. She looked up at me, and then spat it back out. It rolled down her top and right onto my trousers, leaving a lovely ketchup stain. Luckily I’ve learnt not to ever wear clothes that I might need the same day while feeding my kids. She pointed at the patatas, and blurted out ‘más-more’, so I let her have a few before she started to wriggle down again.
Meanwhile, my son had decided that he didn’t like his chair, it just wasn’t comfy enough apparently, and he had to sit on my wife’s lap.
So, as usual, I was feeding my daughter as she stood beside me while playing with her kitchen, and my wife fed my son sitting on her lap.
Where did we go wrong?
My daughter then kept running off to the door, just to check it was still in place I think, and running back, now with her bib flapping behind her.
“Superhero,” said my son.
“Superbaby,” I said.
“Superbaby,” I repeated, as my daughter arrived at my side again demanding más chips.
Once we’d consumed as much of the food as possible (in mine and my wife’s case most of it, and in the kids only really the chips, plus half a burger from my son), it was time for yogurts. Thank God for yogurts; the only way we can really fill our children’s bellies before they sleep.
I walked into the kitchen. My kids ran in, and my son slipped on the floor. He burst out crying, which wasn’t helped by my daughter as she started laughing, and so did I, but mine was more of a silent one, as I didn’t want to receive a black eye.
So, back at the table, my son was on my lap, and my daughter was on my wife’s. They both finished their yogurts quickly; probably still hungry thanks to their lack of real food (not real chips though) and crowded round my wife demanding some of her yogurt.
For some reason they started playing a game. This involved standing on one side of the lounge and running over to her in turns to get another mouthful of yogurt. On a normal work day, we would never have allowed such antics, but we just gave up; there I admit it, we gave in to the power of the munchkins.
Then my son knocked into my daughter, by accident this time, and she started to wail. Have you ever been feeding a kid while they start to cry, and actually continued to put food in their mouth? I have, and so has my wife (on this occasion). To her shock (not sure why), she received a pink spray of strawberry yogurt all over her hand.
Once my daughter had stopped crying, and my son shouting ‘Que asco – how disgusting,’ we nipped them upstairs and got them ready for their afternoon siesta, and allowed ourselves a break; once we’d cleaned up, of course. Just your average lunch time meal.
Any ideas when they might get to an age where they sit for a whole meal, and eat a whole meal, without any crying, arguing, and food spraying going on? Any advice welcome.