TBoTK take 2: our wee omnivore’s dilemma

In honor of the countdown to kindergarten,

81 hours, 58 minutes. Not that I am keeping obsessive, excited, fearful, worrisome, anxious track. Because I’m not. Doing that. Nope. Not The Mama.

I bring you The Kidling’s highlight reel, “The Best of The Kidling.” This blogpost details one of The Dada’s and my all-time favorite phases that our dear, darling, thoughtful, curious, mature, brilliant, unique child

Who is getting OLD. Seriously. Kindergarten? This is bullshit. I want an exchange. Can I get Toddler Kidling back?

went through: omnivorous conflict. Without further ado

Really? Nothing further? Surely I can kvetch just a little more? Right? “It’s my blog and I’ll write what I want to” and all that?

I bring you…

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our wee omnivore’s dilemma

Not a wee dilemma; rather, a wee omnivore. With gratitude—and apologies—to Michael Pollan*…

Early last fall, The Kidling became keenly aware of the fact that her meat is derived from (previously) living creatures. The Family is technically omnivorous, but we are functionally closer to herbivores. The Mama does the cooking, and I love vegetables and can really take or leave a hunk of meat. That said, I do prepare it at least once a week, so The Kidling’s new insight made for an interesting few months at the dinner table.

In spite of Alice’s voracious appetite, she is a rotten little booger at the dinner table. Not, mind you, the breakfast, lunch, or snack table. Go figure. Dinner time is a textbook power struggle. She does everything but eat. Her typical dinner routine is:

  1. Happily fulfill dinnertime chore of putting napkins on the table;
  2. Sit down;
  3. Yell, “I have to go potty” and run toward the toilet;
  4. Return to the kitchen 5 minutes later with pants down, saying “I haven’t washed my hands yet, but I want to tell you [insert random story here]”;
  5. With pants still down, microstep back to the toilet to wash hands;
  6. Run back to the table;
  7. Talk;
  8. Play with her food;
  9. Sing;
  10. Talk;
  11. Sing some more;
  12. Take one bite;
  13. Repeat Steps 7-12 two dozen times.

Dinner is exhausting, to say the least.  It should come as no surprise, then, that the evening Alice realized she was complicit in the death of an innocent creature began thusly:

The Mama: Eat your turkey, Sweetie.

Alice: What? This is turkey? What’s that?

The Mama: Like the bird. Turkey.

Alice: I bet he isn’t happy about that.

The Mama: No, I don’t think he is, Alice.

Alice: Did you hunt it?

The Mama: No.

Alice: Why?

The Mama: Well, everyone does what they do best. It is most efficient that way. A farmer raised it.

Alice: Did they cut his head off?

The Mama: Yes.

Alice: Oh.

(extended silence)

The Dada: So, I’m doing a load of laundry! Lights! (The Mama and The Dada engage in a spirited discussion of the laundry. Blankets! Towels! It worked. Conversation officially changed.)

Versions of this exchange took place every time meat dared appear on the table. The Kidling’s comments ranged from, “What animal is this” to the sad-voiced  “What animal are we going to eat tonight” to the ubiquitous (audible sigh) I bet he isn’t very happy about that” to the horrifying and hilarious evening on which we had steak: “I feel bad about that. (very long pause) But it is yummy.”

I should add that we respect Alice’s autonomy, and never make her eat anything she doesn’t want to consume. Except broccoli.

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*Whilst adding this hyperlink, I discovered that none other than the amazing Maira Kalman has recently illustrated Michael Pollan’s Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual. I am head over heels for Maira Kalman’s work, and own her charmingly illustrated edition of Strunk and White’s The Elements of Style. I should add that, in my fantasy world, Ms. Kalman illustrates the real book version of the book of alice. I even tweeted about it once. The Mama can dream, no?

know your limits

You might recall that dinner time can be a struggle at The Kidling’s house.

What’s that you say? You weren’t aware of that? You thought The Kidling was a perfect angel who sits politely at the table, eats every vegetable The Mama places in front of her, chews with her mouth closed, sits still, eats until she is full, thanks me for the delicious meal, asks to be excused, then clears her plate without being asked? Let me remedy that misconception.

As I wasn’t really saying. Dinner time + The Kidling = Struggle.

I hope you are paying attention, because there will be a quiz… if I can ever get around to finishing this story.

The Family’s dinner time rules—that eating and conversation are the only two activities acceptable for executing during meal time—are frequently ignored. More often, though, they aren’t ignored, exactly. No, the balance is just disproportionately skewed toward chatter.

Lots and lots of chatter.

Chatter chatter chatter chatter chatter.

So one evening in mid-January when The Kidling paused her dinner, fork in hand, to tell me what was going through her head, I wasn’t at all surprised by the interruption

What did surprise me, though, was what was going through her head. On this evening, Alice told me, “I’m never going to point this at you. I’m never ever going to kill you. I never want to be a pirate… but I do want to find gold! I’m not going to steal it, though.”

At least she knows her limits.