Tonawanda News

March 10, 2014

CRIB NOTES: Playing the hunger games at the Lane household


The Tonawanda News

Tonawanda News — Dinnertime used to be different around our house. I’m having a hard time pinpointing what’s changed.

Perhaps my cooking isn’t quite what it used to be. It could be the delightfully flowery paper plates we bought. Maybe it’s the polar vortex freezing chunks of my brain into irrelevance.

Wait, I think I got it. Dinner used to be filling.

Nowadays, eating anything that would constitute a majority of my dinner would have to be considered a victory. Penny and Rigby are increasingly developing a vulture’s mentality when it comes to my dinner, hovering over my plate to see what’s ripe for the picking. (Or, in Rigby’s case, he sometimes simply helps himself and then asks me if he can have some while spraying small particles of my dinner back onto me.)

Picking at my food has almost become routine. Not only does my plate represent more food, but it also offers a welcome alternative to their meal. (Usually — one of the advantages of having children, after all, is to be able to eat macaroni and cheese or dinosaur-shaped chicken nuggets in a socially acceptable manner.) Why eat what they originally wanted when there’s an alternative — any alternative — available?

I know they’re growing, but there are certain days during which they can really pack it in. Days during which I make extra anticipating they might be a bit more hungry and they STILL need more. Days during which I can merely sit back and wonder what our food budget will be like when they hit their teens ... and cry. (If you care to send a dollar to help out, then feel free.)

Mind you, they still have their “little kid” days during which they repel food like Randy resisting his mashed potatoes in “A Christmas Story.” But even on their least “eating days,” I never have to simulate a pig wallowing in potatoes to prompt them to eat.

More often than not, they’re left asking for more. They’ll even tilt their heads upward and open their mouths to show me the not-yet-topped-off contents of their stomachs, indicating there’s more room for food.

Naturally, I don’t want them to starve. And I know growing children legitimately need more food at points, whether due to growth spurts or other parts of the maturation process. But this trend toward increased consumption has prompted a few changes in my habits.

First, I am going to the store a bit more often. That way, I can keep more fruit in the house. If they’re going to eat more, after all, it might as well be oranges or pineapple

Second, as I hinted above, I make more for dinner. Where I used to make Penny two grilled cheese sandwiches (she won’t eat the crusts, much like me), I now make her three while putting a handful of grapes. I make sure to keep Rigby’s multi-compartment “Toy Story” plate clean so I can fill one (or two) with apple sauce to complement his chicken fingers. And cereal for dinner is a welcome mix to our meal rotation.

I also have trended toward healthier options when we dine out, both for my own sake and for theirs — let them eat cake when it’s fat-free. And we push salad whenever possible, although they’re both still at the ultra-picky stage; they’re legitimately able to tell the difference between ground beef and low-fat ground turkey (guess which one they prefer).

The hunger games aren’t likely to cease any time soon in our household. But I’m learning how to be better-prepared to lead them and make them a more filling experience for everyone involved.

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Random observation: Penny got into my car one day when I picked her up after school. She described the smell as “dirty socks and rotten peanut butter.”

I should have been offended. But like Ron Burgundy after Baxter ate the wheel of cheese in the fridge, I was more amazed. Her use of language was quite colorful, regardless of her being 6 years old. Perhaps I have the next generation of this space already training to take over.

And perhaps I need to invest in a really good air freshener.

Contact Paul Lane at pjlnews@ymail.com. Also be sure to like Daddy’s Crib Notes on Facebook.