Before I was a mother, I envisioned my family’s meal times, especially dinner, as nothing short of perfection. I’d serve up deliciously prepared meals a’ la June Cleaver, and my family would eagerly gobble them up while praising my culinary efforts. Boy was I WRONG!!! Despite the fact that both of my children eat a pretty wide variety of foods, my 4-year-old daughter enjoys dragging meals out for what sometimes feels like an eternity. Her reason behind the desire to make dinner time about as long as a professional sporting event remains a mystery. The agony of getting her to eat a decent amount of food within a reasonable amount of time has become one of the most dreaded tasks of my day. We have tried just about every bribe, promise, timer system and reward to no avail and continue to wonder if some nights she just enjoys going to bed hungry (kidding, of course).
While the dinner time frustrations continue to mount, my husband and I marvel at her expertly honed skill in prolonging a meal. She has mastered the art of the filibuster and employs these skills at meals just to avoid eating her food no matter what I serve. I can only hope that these dinner time battles will one day land her a phenomenal job in a legal or legislative capacity.
The Dinner Filibuster In Practice
So if you’re looking for ways to spend more quality time together at meals (insert sarcasm), here is the comprehensive list of all the creative things my daughter says or does to avoid eating.
- Asks for a napkin
- Asks to hold my hand
- Scoots her chair, closer and closer and closer
- Says her feet are falling asleep
- Chugs an entire glass of milk
- Pretends like her utensils are “getting married”
- Proclaims “This is the best dinner ever!” (without ever taking a bite)
- Assigns everyone in our family a new super hero name
- Recounts memories from family vacations years ago
- Moves food around on her plate
- Stares blankly into space for minutes at a time
- Announces proudly “I’m gonna eat my WHOLE dinner!”
- Speculates what her baby brother is saying when he babbles
- Gives “thumbs up”
And so it continues …
- Says “This isn’t a race.”
- Asks to go to the potty
- Rubs her tummy and restates how delicious dinner tastes
- Goes to the potty
- Tells me how much she loves me
- Plays with her napkin
- Thanks me profusely
- Request lights be turned on
- Scolds her baby brother for not eating
- Attempts to identify spices and herbs in her food
- Counts the number of items on her plate
- Feeds the dog
- Discusses what we can do if we all eat our dinner
- Dissects her food
- Repeatedly asks “Am I eating a good dinner?”
Yes, these have all been known to occur during one meal. While so many of these tactics sound so sweet and innocent, it is quite obvious that during meals they are all intended to create a diversion (I’m not falling for it). Honestly by the end of a meal we are all exhausted and out of patience, many times with no more than a few bites gone from her plate. I know she will eat when she is hungry. On the rare occasion she does consume a decent portion of food in less then an hour, my husband and I are tempted to rush outside and shoot off fireworks in jubilant celebration.
To moms (and dads) with children who have also mastered the art of dinner time procrastination, I’m so sorry. I can only hope that this agony will be a short lived phase.
We have one of those. We eat as a family and then the table is cleared except for her plate. She will go back and forth for about an hour while we get on with after dinner activities. There is no amount of bribes, yelling, threatening, begging or pleading that has worked. I hope it’s just a stage that she’s going through. Until she eats at a normal pace, this has been the only thing that saved our sanity.
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