I Hate It!

21 Sep

That’s the phrase we all struggle with, isn’t it? You put a nice dinner together (what, with all your free time) and set it lovingly on the table, and a short person sniffs at the plate, crinkles up a nose, and blurts out, “I hate this.”

It’s yucky.


That’s disgusting.

I’m. Not. Eating. Followed by a shove to the plate towards the center of the table (or the floor, depending on the night and the mood).

Contrary to what the Perfect People say, it happens to all of us. Every single parent who has ever taken the time to plan and shop for a meal and then cook it (and clean up afterwards) has had those phrases spring from their beloved children’s mouths. And every single one of us has felt a heart-sinking sensation and the instinct to bury said child’s nose in the middle of the supposedly inedible entree to force them to eat for the love of all that’s holy. Just. Eat.

It happened here last night. I’d heard a ton about the Pioneer Woman’s chicken spaghetti over on Pinterest and I gritted my teeth and went against everything I love about cooking and stirred together cream of mushroom soup (Healthy Request, but still) and cheese and noodles, and then glopped it into a casserole dish and baked it and let it sit, and then scooped it into bowls before presenting it to my kids with a cheerful, “Everybody loves this!” Because everybody does love that recipe and there are worse things in the world than occasionally breaking one’s rules about cream of ick out of a can so you can serve your kids a kid-friendly bowl of soft noodles in grey sauce that they’re supposed to love, yes?

They didn’t love it.

They tried it–I’ll give them that. DS took a bite, grimaced, looked at me, and gamely ate his portion, bribed maybe just a tiny bit with the promise of chocolate afterwards. I’m already breaking the rules, here. Might as well pull out all the stops.

DD took her bite, stuck out her tongue and “blech”ed, shoved her bowl to the center of the table (my personal favorite move), crossed her arms, and said she would. not. eat.

I didn’t choke her with the noodles. Points for me. (Oh, stop it. You’ve thought it too and I know it. I just say it out loud.) I did shrug, turn my back to busy myself with something else, and say, “Fine. Don’t eat. Go brush your teeth.”

She ate. Score.

But even if she hadn’t, know what? She is not going to starve herself into malnutrition in one night. She is not even going to starve herself in a week. And I have neither the time nor the budget (nor the patience) to make her something else just because she’s feeling like not liking a dinner.

I’m not completely heartless. My kids don’t like spicy food–it’s an honest dislike–and I do accommodate that with simple alternations or options when DH and I enjoy a meal with a little kick to it. My son honestly doesn’t like mac n cheese (I KNOW!) and I don’t ever expect him to choke it down just because I felt like making some. My daughter truly didn’t like baby food, and so we skipped it and went right to real food that I chopped up into dollhouse-sized bits. But these little snits where they don’t want to try something new or protest because the food on the table doesn’t fall into the “favorite dishes” category? I’m just not playing.

I adopted this attitude a year ago, and while they still do complain and I still hear about who doesn’t like what for this reason or that, they eat. Every night. Nobody yells, nobody scrambles to “fix” it, and nobody starves to death.

So that’s my house. What works for you all? How do you handle “I hate it?” Post it in the comments and let me know!



7 Responses to “I Hate It!”

  1. Alison September 21, 2011 at 10:10 am #

    I go through this quite often. When my kids tell me they don’t like something that’s being served, I say “I know. You don’t have to eat it all. But you HAVE to try it. The reason you have to try it is because it’s the polite thing to do.” My theory is that if they’re eating at someone else’s house and are served something they don’t like I will not worry that they will starve but I will worry that they’ll be rude.

    p.s. my daughter does not like anything with tomatoes (including pizza). She’s not allergic. She’s just decided she doesn’t like it.

  2. Danielle Turner (@ChefDanielle) September 21, 2011 at 10:14 am #

    I can relate! There’s a sign in my kitchen that says: Dinner Choices — 1. Take it. 2. Leave it. If they don’t like it I won’t make it again, but there’s no second dinner. Mama’s not a short order cook!

  3. Aviva Goldfarb September 21, 2011 at 4:16 pm #

    Love this column, Kim! I can totally relate and we all do have those nights, but they only way they learn to eat new things is by trying them. My daughter used to hate spicy food but I’ve gradually been adding pepper, etc. to our meals and she’s getting used to it. Palates really do adapt. How did you like the casserole, by the way?

  4. Nancy | Roving Lemon's Big Adventure September 21, 2011 at 4:27 pm #

    We have the One Bite Rule in our house: you have to try one bite of whatever is on your plate. If you don’t like it, you don’t have to eat any more (but you don’t get any dessert either). I have found this is the best way to get past the ‘I don’t want to try anything new’ reflex; by the time they’ve had one bite on four or five occasions, it’s not really ‘new’ anymore.

    And I’d like to hear what you thought of the casserole too!

  5. Evelyn Cucchiara (@organizingwithe) September 21, 2011 at 5:21 pm #

    If only the real world would be like a magazine where kids happily eat veggies. Will never happen in my house. Well, not until the kids are about 16, that’s when my oldest started eating better.

    Anyway, I post the days menu on a menu board in the morning. That way the kids know what’s for dinner, and they don’t argue. If it ends up being something they don’t like, they simply zap themselves a quesidilla. I figure I’ll provide them a good example, and eventually their tastes will change….

  6. Kim September 21, 2011 at 5:45 pm #

    Love reading all of your thoughts on this!

    The casserole was eh. It reminded me of the stuff my mom made in the 70s. Fine, but not something I’m itching to have again.

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