As I sat at the table today watching my sweet, funny, smart little beam of sunshine “eat” her lunch, I couldn’t help but reminisce about a simpler time…a time when making a mess with food was cute. The first time she ate yogurt she smeared it in her hair and in her ears and I probably giggled and took a video. Many a bath was had after spaghetti dinners and I laughed uncontrollably when she got frustrated with picking up tiny strawberry chunks and ate them off the table like a puppy instead. It was all fun games…when she was ONE. Now we can’t get through a meal without one of us having a meltdown (its about 50/50) and the use of all-purpose cleaner is at an all time high. I secretly believe that someone, somewhere, holds an age-old secret to getting a toddler to eat and behave like a semi-civilized human being but finding it would play out something like the plot of The Da Vinci Code.If I ever open the cryptex, I promise I will share its contents with you. For now, I’ve compiled what appears to be my two year olds idea of eating rules/etiquette:
1) Ask for a snack every 5 minutes. Two minutes if you have just finished a meal. If a snack is not provided to you, sneak into the kitchen and get one yourself. Eat precisely two bites and jam the rest between the couch cushions.
2) All food items (including dry cereal, fruit chunks, raisins, etc) are best consumed with a spoon or fork. Never settle for the utensil given to you- you need the one daddy has. And soups should always come with a spoon but be eaten with your hands.
3) If you do something at dinner and it makes mommy look mad…do it some more.
4) Reach a daily goal of dropping at least 1/3 of all food provided to you onto the floor. Extra points are awarded for any soupy/greasy/crumbly items that are difficult to sweep up.
5) If a bite doesn’t feel exactly right once you put it in your mouth – chew it up a bit and then spit it onto the table. (See Rule #3)
6) Your hair is indeed an acceptable replacement for a napkin.
7) Sandwiches should be completely disassembled and inspected before eating them. When you can’t put them back together properly, just scream “FIX IT! FIX IT! FIX IT!” until someone reassembles it to your liking.
8) Just because you loved cucumbers yesterday does not obligate you to love them today. Don’t ever let the world hold you back kid. You do you.
9) Never let mommy or daddy convince you that what is on their plate is the same as what is on yours. It may look the same. It may taste the same. But we all know its something far superior. The conspiracy is real.
10) When you are finished with a meal just shove your plate across the table violently. This is the polite way to signal that you would like to leave the table. Then commence your slow build-up to a panic attack about the fact that your hands are dirty. Parents have approximately 15 seconds to find the wipes before shit gets real.
Some day I’m sure I’ll look back on these meals and smile and wish for this time back…but I’m thinking I’ll be 80 and so senile I’m not even remembering my own children. Until then I’ll just be walking around with this lemony-scented bottle of what I assume is the European version of 409 and muttering angrily as I scrape noodles off the hardwood floor.