I don’t know what happened last night…I’m still kind of in shock! I think I entered the Twilight Zone for a little while.
At some point last night, at the dinner table (it’s all still kind of a haze) I heard the words, “Can I have some more broccoli?” and “Can I please have some more salmon?” and if I hadn’t seen my kids’ lips moving I would have assumed that I had invited some cruciferous vegetable and Atlantic fish-loving hobo in to eat and promptly forgotten about it.
I’ve already talked about Ben’s picky eating at length. It has been a lot better since he turned 5, and he did really well in Germany, but “a lot better” is relative and means that instead of a screaming, flailing meltdown EVERY dinnertime, we just have a whining, complaining argument 9 out of 10 times. And the 10th dinner is pizza.
The biggest problem now is not so much Ben (in the end, he does eat it), but Molly, who actually loves to eat ANYTHING, but loves to imitate what her beloved big brother does even more. So almost every mealtime now goes, “Ben, eat your dinner please.” “But I don’t like this!” “Just eat it, please.” “Ohhhhhhhh…” *grudgingly eats a bite* “Molly, please eat your dinner.” “But I don’t YIKE this!” *flings it on the floor*
Ian is away for the week, which means that I can eat and feed the kids all the seafood I like (he’s not a fan). Yesterday I thought, what the heck, I feel like eating the frozen President’s Choice Salmon Wellington that’s been in the freezer for ages, and I’ll deal with the consequences when my dinner-shunning kids sit down at the table.
I had fairly low expectations of success, giving Ben’s meltdown this morning over being told that I had put macaroni and cheese in his lunch instead of his usual bagel with cream cheese.
The only thing that I can think of that made tonight different was that instead of telling Ben what was for dinner, I let him figure it out for himself when he saw it on the table:
Ben: “What’s dinner?”
Me: “Dinner is the meal that comes after lunch and before bedtime.” (HAHAHAHAHA!!! That line never gets old!!)
Ben (actually laughing this time – we’re off to a good start!): “No, what’s FOR dinner?’
Me: “What do you think it looks like?”
Ben: “I can see that it’s broccoli, but what’s the other thing? Croissants?”
Me: “That’s a good guess – it’s kind of like croissants. It’s fish stick, but instead of cereal for the breading it has croissant. It’s called Salmon Wellington.”
Ben: “Oh. Okay.”
“Oh. Okay”??? That’s when I knew something was up. I never get, “Oh, Okay.” It’s usually more like, “Ohhhhhh….but why? I don’t like that! Why do you always give me what I don’t like???” “But you like fish sticks, and you like croissants.” “But I don’t like them together!! Ohhhhh!!!!”
Maybe psychologically there’s something going on there – If I tell him what’s for dinner, and it doesn’t match the idea that he has in his head of what he wants, cue freak-out…but if I ask him to look at something unfamiliar and figure it out for himself, his brain has time to adjust to what he is seeing while trying to apply a name to it, and by the time he has figured out how to fit it into a familiar box, he has come to terms with it and maybe is even intrigued. Who knows? I don’t know if this was the key or not, but I’m definitely going to try it again.
Anyway, from there on it went swimmingly (heheheh). Ben decided to get himself a knife so he could cut his dinner up with a knife and fork like me, and Molly followed suit. Molly decided that salmon is her favourite because it’s pink (note to self: serve more pink foods). Ben STOLE a piece of salmon off Molly’s plate and ate it. Let me repeat that please, for my own benefit – he ACTUALLY FREAKING STOLE A PIECE OF SALMON OFF MOLLY’S PLATE AND ATE IT. Molly devoured her broccoli without stopping to draw breath. Ben squeezed his salmon out of the puff pastry and cut it up and ate it, then ate all his broccoli.
I stared in mute shock at their empty plates and then offered them dessert. They accepted and happily ate their chocolate stars. And then came the kicker:
Molly: “Tan I pease have some more broccoyi?”
Ben: “And can I have some more salmon? But not the breading this time. I didn’t really like that. Just the fish?”
Molly: “Yeah tan I have some more salmon too?”
Me: *jaw hits the floor*