Anne has been a fussy eater lately. Don't get me wrong. She eats. And she eats what I give her. Because I will not have a daughter, or any child for that matter, who does not eat what I make. So every night at meal time, Anne puts her head in her hands, looks down sadly at her food and sighs deeply. And then takes 30+ minutes to eat about 5 bites. And then I threaten time outs, no dessert or no stories til she eats. So 5 minutes later she eats another bite. And I threaten again, no dessert. Then I switch to bribes: "Eat 3 more bites and you can have cottage cheese, or yogurt or dessert." And she eats another bite and chews for 90 seconds...and chews the same bite for another 90 seconds. And I start to lose it. And as a last resort-for both of us to get what we each want-I feed her. And as I'm feeding her, I'm spouting off about how there are children in the world who have no food. Who are literally crying and in pain because they are so hungry. How she is not appreciating the gift she has and how mean it is to the other kids who don't have food that she isn't eating the (good) food she has in front of her. And how she hurts mommy's feelings by not eating what I make. Does this make me sound like a horrible mommy? I don't think I am. I hear over and over again stories, perhaps made up, but maybe just maybe real, of mother's threatening to send food over to the starving children in China. Of kids having to sit at the table for hours without the rest of the family with them, until the battle of wills is won and food on the plate is eaten. So no, I don't think I'm a bad-or mean-mommy.
Tonight, Anne was doing well. She was not lolly gagging too much but as she started on her pizza (yes, even getting her to eat pizza is a chore), she asked us to tell her an "Annie" story (a made up story in which she is the star). So we started telling her an Annie story. And every few seconds we had to remind her to eat. And beg her to eat. And threaten her to eat. And then, out of the blue, she asked for an Annie story in which Annie doesn't have enough food to eat and she is hungry. So I jumped in and said, quickly and sarcastically:
"OnceuponatimetherewasagirlnamedAnnie. Andshedidn'thaveanyfood. Andshewassohungryshecried...And there was another Annie who did have food but she wouldn't eat it. And the Annie who didn't have food went to the Annie who did and asked her, crying, why didn't she eat the good food she had."
And as I paused to take a breath and give her a dirty look (read: hurry up and eat girl!), Anne stared at me blankly for several seconds then gaily turned her head towards Daddy and asked sweetly "You tell me an Annie story? I don't want Mommy to tell Annie Stories anymore"
Apparently the stories of kids without food have gotten so old she's numb to them...