Come On, Eat! (Or Not.)

I hope you enjoy this month’s contribution to Hallmark’s “Life Is A Special Occasion” campaign! (Go grab a snack. It’ll enhance your experience.)

These days, dinner around this house goes pretty smoothly. Someone does the cooking, calls everyone to the table, and, well, we eat. Conversation goes on throughout the meal, and then when we’re all done–because nobody leaves the table until everyone else is finished eating–everyone helps to clear the table and then a couple of us (but not the one who cooked) do the dishes.

It hasn’t always been that way, mind you. Mealtime around here used to be stressful when the boys were little. In addition to the hamburger incident and the reappearance-of-broccoli incident (both written about previously in this post), we had general issues with getting through a meal in a timely manner. Back in those days, meals that should have only taken fifteen to twenty minutes from start to finish as long as everyone was taking care of Job One (eating) actually took closer to an hour, and sometimes more.

After a while, as any parent would, Jim and I got impatient. We did have other things to do, after all, and would much rather have spent time with the boys away from the table having fun with LEGOs or partaking in some other activity than just waiting for the food to disappear from their plates.

“EAT!” we’d say, imploring the boys to, well, just EAT.

It wasn’t that the boys were horsing around or getting up to walk around, or anything like that, either. They were either talking too much (yes, there is such a thing) or merely sitting there, gazing off into the distance or just, I don’t know, chillaxin’.

No pictures please, I'm trying not to eat right now.

After a while, “EAT!” turned into “EEEEEEEEAT!!!!!” and it was becoming a regular occurrence. Too regular, if you ask me. Having to beg the kids to eat at every single stinkin’ meal got old really quickly. We just didn’t get it. We discontinued afternoon snacks to ensure that the boys were hungry enough to eat dinner, but that didn’t work. We gave them smaller-than-normal portions just in case they thought their plates were too overwhelming to conquer, but that didn’t work.

My sister used to say that everyone at the table was going to have PTSD from our pleas to “JUST EAT!!!!” but happily, it looks like we all came out of it generally unscathed.

Thank goodness that, like so many other things, the lack of enthusiasm about chewing, swallowing, and having a full belly was a phase. I shouldn’t have worried about it, because once the boys hit puberty I was imploring them NOT to eat. (Teen boys eat a lot, you know? Yikes!) Jim and I have joked with the boys, saying “You know, if you’re just going to keep eating, I’m going to stop buying the food.”

Funny how times change.

I’m happy to report that, at seventeen and twenty, the boys have appetites that fall well within normal ranges. It was always bound to happen, but I can’t help but look at it as us “doing our time” and then eventually reaping the rewards. Pitiful I know, but humor me. We parents need to take those victories whenever we can, especially if they’re deferred for a few years!


Disclosure: I am BEYOND thrilled to be partnering with Hallmark on their “Life Is A Special Occasion” campaign for 2012. As a Hallmark LIASO blogger I am being compensated to write about every day moments of all sizes, family traditions, the relationships I cherish the most, and much more. All words, opinions, and photos are mine. Thanks so much to the folks at Hallmark for selecting me for this campaign: it’s an honor for me to be a part of it. Oh, and by the way, you can sign up for special offers and new product information from Hallmark by clicking here (and why wouldn’t you, really?).


  • Samantha

    This reflection is timely for me! With two boys (especially my older one) who can be VERY picky (and other days, eat everything in sight!), I’m somewhat looking forward to the days when their appetites will be bigger (although my wallet won’t be as thrilled).

  • Grandma W

    OK, I remember a girl with one s in her name that took forever to eat. Which drove me crazy. Oh and she also did/does not like it for her food to mix together, even to this day. She would put a knife under one side of the plate so the gravy would not mix with the other food on the plate. No matter how we would bribe her to get done nothing would work.

    But I love her and her sister very much so time has taken the stress out of meals.

    Grandma W

  • Tara R.

    Funny, that as picky as they were as little kids, when boys get older, you can’t keep enough food in the house for them. Making up for lost time I guess.

  • Colleen

    Oh thank GOD! My boys drive me bonkers with the not eating! (And, like you, I have NO IDEA what they’re actually doing…food just isn’t going in their pie holes…) If you were at my house for dinner you’d regularly hear me and my quote from “The Year Without a Santa Claus”: “Eat, Papa, eat! No one likes a skinny Santa!” 😉