Tonight, I turned into my father (AHHHHHH!). I instituted the Toddler and Kindergartner Dinner Control Program. Jon and I have done a horrid job at sitting down to dinner with the kids. Both of us grew up having dinner with our parents, and want to carry that tradition down to Maria and Mario. However, for numerous reasons (some lame and some legitimate), we have failed. We both work and have used that as an excuse to order in food most of the days of the week or simply skip dinner and eat some random foods through the night. Now, before we have Child Welfare knocking at our door, we do feed the children decent meals. They just usually eat them at their little Dora table as Jon or I (sometimes both) watch them gobble up their food and begin play again. If they are not eating at their little table, they are out with me at one of the parks eating a picnic dinner or at Panera or Cowtown Pizza. During the Spring, Summer, and Fall, we live outside. Therefore, we carry our dinner with us. So, here comes Winter and darkness at 5 pm. We need to make the change.
Maria wanted a “feast” for this dinner so she decided on turkey dogs, peas, leftover pasta and meatballs, grapes, and bread. We cooked the meal while Mario and Jon played in the dining room.
After fifteen whole minutes, we had our meal. Maria and Jon cleared the dining room table, Maria placed a vase of flowers on it, and we served the dinner plates. We all sat down. Maria and Mario fought for five minutes about who got to say a meal prayer (Grandma Ionno instituted this ritual in them!). Finally, Maria caved and Mario went first and Maria second. We then began our next soon-to-be ritual: telling each other our favorite part of our day. Mario again got to go first (yes, Maria is a saint and so patient). Mario’s favorite part of the day was learning about manners at school (always say “please” and put a napkin in your shirt when you eat sloppy foods). Maria’s favorite part was sitting next to her friends, Zach and Trent, at lunch and laughing about “silly things.” Unfortunately, Jon was stopped cold in his story because at this point, Mario was standing up in his chair and dancing. We scolded him to sit down and eat warning him that Spiderman only gets bigger if he eats his food (the only thing, if anything, that works on him to get him to eat). Maria, by that time, was begging for some of my spaghetti since she had eaten her food. Maria skirted all around her chair and managed to get cottage cheese and spaghetti sauce in her hair, on her forehead and on her shirt. We were asking her to scoot around to the table when Mario stated he was finished (although he had only ate half of his hot dog and nothing else). He lifted those tiny arms up with his palms facing upward pleading “But, mom, I am not hungry. My tummy will hurt.”
As soon as I got on the phone with him, the kids were out of their chairs and wrestling on the floor. It had been 16 minutes since we began eating our dinner – not bad for the Programs’s first night. Tomorrow we will explain the Program in more detail to the kids and try for 18 minutes. I may also have to give them a carrot like my dad did for me and tell them if they sit in their seats for 18 minutes, they will get a yummy treat for dessert. I better stack up on vanilla ice cream, whipped cream and skittles!