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Challenge: Keeping Your Cool

Dinner Time With My Children Keeps My Psychiatrist Employed

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I want to start off by letting everyone know that this is not one of those posts where I talk about a problem and finish it with a few key points/takeaways that I've learned to help said problem. I have nothing to offer as far as solutions go for this train wreck and frankly I'm not interested in hearing any in response. The purpose of this is to talk about one of the most miserable, rage-inducing areas of my life which is dinner time with my two young children. The worst part about it? I have to deal with it every day. Every. Damn. Day. I've gotten to the point where I really believe that I'm being used as a subject in some kind of psychiatric study on frustration tolerance and I think the finished product will probably be titled "how many dinners does it take for a mom to end up on the news".

I don't understand why it's so awful. My five-year-old son can be in the best mood ever, laughing and playing and telling me how much he loves me, but as soon as the words "time for dinner" come out of my mouth it's like a switch goes off and some kind of foreign entity enters into his soul. The melt-downs are really something to behold. I firmly believe that the only reason my neighbors have not called DCF or the police is because they have children also and are at least pretty sure that the exorcist-like screams coming from my home are not indicative of my child actually being tortured.

My son loves pizza. He talks about it before bed and has even included it in what he is thankful for in his prayers. I've seen him down three solid pieces at a birthday party without batting an eye. It doesn't matter when it comes to dinner time. NOTHING MATTERS when it comes to dinner time. I don't understand. He sits at the table (sitting is a nice way of saying he bounces up and down and squirms and scream-cries and without fail smashes his chin on the table by accident at least three times a week) and wines about how the plate of food that he has not yet laid eyes on is too much for him to eat and that it's yucky. The baby is 16 months old and, though she's not picky, she has also decided that dinner time is actually the perfect opportunity for her to try out fun new activities like rip chunks of hair out, throw her sippy cup on the floor and scream what I am positive are baby obscenities.

I literally go insane during dinner time. I like to think that I'm normally relatively patient and tolerant but the freak show that is dinner time brings out the Hulk in me. I'll be the first to admit it: I lose my shit. I'm not proud of it. It's not fun to look back and realize that you engaged a 5-year-old in a fight about how 30 minutes and half an hour really do mean the same thing or asked your 16-month-old why she's trying to make you cry on purpose with her eyes, but it happens and I'm raising the white flag. The days of even attempting to get vegetables down are long gone. I've tried everything: bribing, begging, yelling, threatening. None of it works. My children are like animals, they know I'm outnumbered and smell my defeat before I even recognize it myself.

After dinner time finishes and the three of us respectively expel the demons that had taken over it's like nothing ever happened as far as my children are concerned. They go right back to laughing and playing while I sit, staring blankly at the wall wondering how and why life as I know it now looks something like a greek tragedy. Like I said, I have no answers. I have no tips other than no matter what just don't murder your children or light yourself on fire, but if your dinner time experience is anything like mine I think that's a tall enough order for now.

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