This is not a tale of particularly good parenting. But sometimes our toddler’s brain confuses us and we get ourselves in too deep and then there is no backing out. This was our dinner last night.

Nora (our two-year-old) arrives at the table.

The table is laden with a delicious dinner that her father has prepared, pot roast (her favorite), mashed potatoes (her favorite), popovers (everyone’s favorite) and cooked carrots (I know that she won’t touch these, they are just token color on her plate.)

I see the grimace on her face, so I say, “You need to try the food on your plate tonight if you want any dessert.”

She says “I my no try meatballs.”

Her dad says, “It’s pot roast, your favorite, and you need to try everything.”

She begins to cry.

Really hard.

I say, “Alrighty, you can go up to your room until you are ready to try your dinner.”

She then performs the trail of tears to her room.

The rest of us pretend to enjoy our dinner. Because it’s really good. But it’s kind of hard to concentrate.

Wailing from upstairs ensues. And then tapers.

One of us says, “Okay, Nora, you can come down if you are ready to try your dinner.”

She says, “Okay, my try.”

She comes down.

She looks at her dinner and bursts into tears once again. “I my no try meatballs!”

Upstairs. Trail of tears. Pretending by us. Wailing.


“My try.”

With a cookie placed strategically on the table, she eats the potatoes, the roll. Not coming near the carrots or pot roast aka “meatballs.”

We’ve come this far! She’s so close! We resort to blatant bribery. Not pretty, but true.

“If you take just one bite of your meat you can have a cookie. And you can watch Gray play a game on the iPad after dinner.”

She decides to get down. “My all full.”

For awhile, she tries to pretend that it’s not bothering her that her Dad is eating her cookie or that Gray is playing the iPad without her.

She twirls around in the middle of the room. “Mommy, Yook! My spin! My dance!”

Yes, lovely, dear.

Eventually, it becomes too much for her. She decides that she really wants to watch Gray play the iPad, and Daddy is rapidly making her cookie disappear, so she comes back to the table. “My try meatball.”

And we give her another chance because sometimes we are suckers like that.

She tries the pot roast.

This feels like an absurd victory.

She chews.

She then gets the remainder of her cookie because sometimes we are suckers like that.

She gets down to watch Gray play the iPad.

After a little while, she comes back to the table and…Eats The Rest of Her Pot Roast. We watch in astonishment but try not to make a big deal about it because then she would be on to us and she would possibly never try anything ever again. I am reminded of trying to feed a skittish chipmunk pieces of dog food as a child.

And then while we are cleaning the kitchen up, she comes back to the table and looks at her plate and begins to cry.



“Meatballs all gone!”



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4 thoughts on “Eating Dinner With A Toddler. And Losing.

  1. laurapayette says:

    This made me laugh in an “I feel your pain” kind of way. We have a lot of dinnertime battles, too.

  2. joellewisler says:

    Glad we aren’t the only ones out there struggling through meals!

  3. April says:

    This is the description of our nightly battle. You are a great writer! You captured this perfectly.

    1. joellewisler says:

      Thanks April! And yes. This is just one night of many…many…many.

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