I know I’m lucky I can put food on the table for my children every night. But sometimes when I’m feeding my children, I don’t feel lucky. Instead, I sometimes feel like getting up, discreetly grabbing my car keys, and gunning it to a secret location where I will never again have to suffer the torture of begging small people to eat. Here are eight thoughts I often have while feeding my children:
1. Just fucking swallow!
Holy crap, how freakin’ long can a piece of food actually sit in a human’s mouth? Please stop chewing that damn piece of chicken and just swallow it before I literally pull the hair out of my head and actually fall down on the floor and cry. If I watch you chew anymore, I might die.
2. How can you not like something that was your favorite last week?
Didn’t you just tell me on Tuesday this was the best thing you ever ate, and isn’t that why I cooked a shitload for you to have all week? And now you hate it? That doesn’t happen in real life. When I like something enough to declare it my “favorite thing ever,” you can drop a dump truck of it into my mouth and I won’t tell you to stop ever.
3. Seriously, you think your food smells bad?
Like really, what could ever make someone smell a piece of fried chicken and make a face like they just stuck their nose in a pile of shit at the zoo? What the fuck could make a piece of pizza smell yucky? It’s bread baked with freakin’ sauce and cheese! My brain literally melts when I smell that stuff.
4. How are you full after three bites?
I mean, 15 minutes ago you declared yourself so starved that I dropped everything and speed-cooked dinner for you and then three bites later you’re full? I need to bottle that shit. When I’m starving like that, I can eat until someone stages an intervention. I don’t, but I think I could.
5. What’s with this ‘food touching each other’ situation?
Let me get this straight: So one bite of chicken has one microgram of mashed potato on it, and now you can’t eat any of it? Right. And the entire meal is destroyed because ketchup crept into a no ketchup zone and it has contaminated the whole meal—even if I wipe it off. Where are my keys?
6. I’m actually doing this.
I’m actually picking through your entire meal for every miniscule piece of shredded parsley just because parsley is green and you’re picky eaters. You’re really crying for a new meal because a chef dared to chop a scallion on the side? But I’m so desperate for you to just eat that I’m precisely removing all the green like a surgeon. This is serious shit. You’re eating this dinner. I don’t care what I have to do. I have no pride as long as you freakin’ eat!
7. Please do not tell me to let them be done when they haven’t eaten anything.
I hear you, Grandma. I know you know best. I know you say my kid can read his own hunger signs and he’ll eat when he’s hungry. But when he skips breakfast and turns into Chucky in the middle of the mall, you won’t be anywhere in sight. And when he skips dinner and decides he’s hungry at 11 p.m. when I’ve just fallen asleep, you’ll be watching repeats in your recliner. So please, just don’t say another word.
8. How can you legitimately not want that dessert?
Look, I’m not upset that you don’t want that piece of chocolate mousse cake. It’s definitely healthier if you don’t have it. I’m just trying to figure out how the fuck that’s humanly possible—that’s all. You have the option of eating that dessert completely guilt-free, with no real knowledge of how crap like that affects one’s ability to stuff their ass into skinny jeans, and your answer is still “I don’t want it.” Good for you. You’re my hero you lucky bastard. You didn’t get that from me.
But no one said this job would be easy. So despite the mealtime drama, I’ll grit my teeth and keep going. I’ll keep putting healthy food on the table and pleading with them to eat it until the day my kids don’t need me to feed them anymore. And years from now, when my children come home from college complaining about their freshman 15, I’ll remind them that I used to have to beg them to eat. And then we can all commiserate about our fat asses together over a pint of Ben & Jerry’s.