This is how it happens, always. I will sit my toddler down at the table. Before her is a hot delicious meal. Perhaps tonight it’s Greek chicken pitas, or enchiladas with grilled corn. Maybe there is a cucumber, tomato and mozzarella salad accompanying seasoned chicken breasts and blueberries. One night, I toasted grapes and served them over homemade bread that was smeared with ricotta. My husband and I were in heaven. My toddler looked like this:
And every time she declares she won't, I look at her calmly and I say, "Either eat or starve." I am not going to let her rule the dinner table like a gastronomical dictator. I grew up the second born of eight kids; the presiding dinnertime rule was "No eat, no 'ert!" ("ert" was a younger sister's take on "dessert" that made its way into the family lexicon). My mom didn't make me a special dinner if I refused to eat goulash (and I did). The lesson was a hard one, but one well learned. You eat the food in front of you and then you say "thank you" and then walk away knowing that you will never serve your children goulash as long as you live (I don't). I don't want to raise a child unwilling to try new things, or who will turn up her nose at a dinner offered to her out of hospitality. And right now, every dinnertime, my desire for parenting is pitted against my daughter's determination not to eat.
I've done what all the books say to do: introduce her to new foods and textures, make her a part of the cooking and shopping. I don't make her special meals. She eats with us and if she won't eat, there is no snack or dessert waiting to appease her empty stomach. This morning, after she threw her bowl of oatmeal to the floor (a meal she requested), I made her pick it up and put it in the sink.
"I want a cookie," she said.
"I so hungry."
"You should have thought about that before you threw your food. Now, there is nothing to eat until lunch. Good luck."
"I SO HUNGRY!"
"I DON'T WANNA STARB!*"
At this point, I know enough to walk away. Reasoning with a toddler is like giving Iran the bomb. They could not know how to use them and we will all be fine. Or they could burn us all to the ground. It's not something you want to risk. Walk away.