Eve of Christmas Eve Dinner

December 30, 2007

The most traumatic things in my granddaughter’s young life seem to involve food.

As traumatic lives go, I don’t think hers has been that traumatic yet, but she is practicing the emotions required just in case her life turns out to be very tragic, which it may by the age of four.

She does not display a lot of appetite. It’s hard to tell if this is a precursor of some awful crisis to occur when she is a teenager or young adult, such as anorexia and bulimia, or that she will naturally have a svelte figure that all the other young ladies will envy, or if she will suddenly become a piglet and blow up as a blimp, or it will just be something funny to laugh about when she is a more or less “normal” adult?

Her natural style of eating is grazing. This is often described as a more natural and healthful way to eat than to shove in large meals. She likes to graze as she plays and walks and wanders. However, there is something about sitting down at a table with adults that takes away most of her appetite.

On the way to visit her grandparents for eve of Christmas Eve, Mama (Random Daughter) and Mommy (birth mother and RD’s partner) had a long discussion with RG about food and table manners as a guest. Supposedly, she promised to display exemplary table manners and conduct herself as a sterling guest. I suspect this indicated she is learning To Say What Parents Want to Hear.

Her good intentions began to unravel at lunch time. We had soup. It seemed perfectly fine soup to me, but perhaps RG detected something malevolent swimming below the surface in hers that was waiting to slither up her spoon if she dipped it into the soup because she was most reluctant to break the surface of the soup with her spoon.

After her nap she had a good time with the wooden barn Grandma had bought for her. The little animals traveled in and out of the barn and had interesting conversations with each other.

As eve of Christmas Eve dinner approached, RG seated herself at the table and indicated she was very hungry. Dinner consisted of meatballs and mashed potatoes with gravy for both, as well as green beans and corn. To me, it looked like a meal that even a 3 and 5/6 years old young lady could deal with.

Grandma put a meatball on RG’s plate. RG regarded the meatball with great suspicion. A mommy urged her to eat some meatball. RG indicated it was just like a meatball she had tasted at a friend’s house and she had not liked that meatball. At all.

Mommy said Grandma’s meatball was different and very good. RG said it was just the same as the meatball she had tasted before. Also, she had been served a meatball at school and she had not liked it. Again, she was told this meatball was different. “No, it is just the same,” she insisted. A look of set determination settled on her face like a mask.

She picked at some of her other food. The appetite she had described seemed to have disappeared. She asked to be excused from the table. Permission was not granted. RG said she was going to leave the table. She was told leaving the table was not an option.

After a while, I did see her actually take a bit of her meatball. A look of quiet suffering covered her face, an expression good enough for at least an Oscar nomination.

Eventually, Mommy suggested she sit in her lap. A sound of quiet sobbing filled the room for about half an hour. Eventually, Mommy and RG went outside for a talk on the porch.

RG came inside. Mommies suggested RG give Grandma and Grandpa a hug. RG said she didn’t want to give hugs. RG went upstairs to bed. A little later RG came downstairs again. RG and Mommy went back upstairs for quite a while. Eventually RG came downstairs. She was composed. Evidently, she had decided not to starve herself to death. She ate some corn and green beans. It looked to me as she had eaten a sufficient quantity to sustain life. It apparently had provided sufficient strength for her to give Grandma and Grandpa hugs before she went upstairs again for the final trip of the night.

10 Responses to “Eve of Christmas Eve Dinner”

  1. janie Says:

    I always feel a lot of empathy for little kids with food struggles. I was quite fortunate that my three didn’t have significant trouble. My youngest sister, however, had an agonizing time. My heart goes out to RG, but I think her mommies are handling it well. She should not, of course just get a free ticket away from the table because she doesn’t want to eat what is served.

    I think her age is about the hardest time, because kids don’t tend to eat much then anyway. You wonder how they maintain life sometimes.

  2. missholley Says:

    When my husband was a child he was a very picky eater. His mother says that the only thing he would eat was peanut butter and bread. The doctor told her that he would eat other things when his body needed other things. To this I say, HA! She never made him try other foods and to this day he is one of the pickiest eaters I’ve ever known. We were together for nine years before I ever saw him eat a piece of fruit. And I think if he ever ate a vegetable, (other than carrots) his colon would have a heart attack! It really drives me crazy.

    My daughter has tried to be the same way, so I had a talk with her. I told her that she would miss out on some of the greatest joys in life if she refused to try new foods. So now she tries new foods and likes most of them. For example…she always said she hated tomatoes, but one day I gave her a bite of my sandwich that had tomatoes on it…and now she absolutely loves them!

    My nephew is the same as my husband. He refuses to eat practically anything. You would not believe how many occasions we have been together for dinner and all he eats is a hot dog bun and Jello! I don’t know how his body grows and lives.

    At least RG eats her veggies!

  3. Average Jane Says:

    This was lovely reading! RG reminded me so much of what I went through with my daughter. Food caused her so much anguish as a three year old and the little dramas she staged just to get out of eating dinner. However, I am happy to tell you that as a fifteen year old, food is one of the greatest joys of her life. If food and I were put on a list for her to save in a fire, I have no illusions about the choice she would make.

  4. modestypress Says:

    Food and children is a funny combination. When my daughter was little, she decided she hated beets (one of my wife’s favorite vegetables and one I like well enough). RD still hates beets to this day.

    On the other hand, she also hated lima beans (My wife and I are not crazy about them, but one here and there in the mix was OK. We had to pick them out of RD’s frozen vegetables.

    Then she decided she loved lima beans and wanted a whole serving with dinner.

    RG is learning to garden and to cook. I hope that planting seeds and cooking meals will help her develop a compatible and sensible relationship with food as she grows up.


  5. I actually had a grown-up moment of not wanting to eat the other day. I had had almost no food in 24 hours and had to force myself to eat some canned soup. I felt like a four year old, but knew that I have to ingest something if I were to survive the day. I made myself take a few huge bites and put the soup in the fridge. It was a strange expereince. Perhaps it will return and I’ll loose vast amounts of weight. Poor kid.

  6. pandemonic Says:

    Oh, my, she’s very precocious.

    When my kids were little, we insisted they eat everything or at least try everything. When they were very little, we played games with asparagus and brussels sprouts and broccoli. They complied, willingly.

    Now that my daughter is a teenager, she chooses foods which have no green in them at all. I don’t mind, because I know she received plenty of vitamins from vegetables when she was younger. And my son was the same way at the same age, but now that he’s been away at college for three years, he eats everything put before him and more. Funny how an absence of food makes even artichokes seem like palatable gold.

  7. renaissanceguy Says:

    I don’t think RG’s pickiness or her small amount of consumption will be a problem in the future. However, if the moms make a big deal of food, then I would worry about RG developing an eating disorder.

    It sounds like they are striking a pretty good balance.


  8. Poor RG. I have to say, one bad experience with a meatball really is enough to put one off them for life. They do all look the same. Mysterious and evil things, meatballs.

    My mother tells me that when I was three, I went through a phase of eating nothing but poached eggs, green beans, and toast for six months. She figured all the major food groups were represented there, so she humored me. Immediately after this phase, I developed a taste for rare steak and coffee. So, you know, things could be a lot worse with RG. At least she’s still cheap to feed.

  9. modestypress Says:

    However, almost all of her snacks are nutritious whole crackers made from whole grain and the like; the food bill for her snacks is starting to add up.

    Also she is developing a taste for the genuine article. One of her favorite snack foods are Organic
    Valley cheese sticks (made from organically milked cows, of course). When her mommies took her on a trip to visit a friend, they bought her a cheese stick that was bought by some other producer than Organic Valley. RG made a face and told her mommies she didn’t like the cheese stick. I haven’t got around to writing to the marketing department of the Organic Valley Farmer’s Co-op to tell them that my three-year-old granddaughter can tell the difference between their product and competing products. For a wholesome, organic farmer’s co-op, they have a very skillful marketing department; I figure they might like to create a big advertising campaign staring RG.

    Thus she might earn enough money to cover her “champagne budget” snack tastes.


  10. Mr. Random,that is a brilliant, brilliant idea. I bet they’d jump on it like a hen on a June bug.


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