Cracking the Nightly Showdown
May 20, 2010
Because I know you all are just dying for an update: Jack still doesn't eat. I know! Phillip and I are still not sure how this happened. To produce a child so wholly uninterested in delicious food must have required every recessive gene in our bodies.
You may be pleased to note that I have chosen to deal with this obnoxiousness by Not Caring. Possibly not the best parenting choice, but definitely the best for my mental health. When your every effort to convince your son that French toast is one life's pure pleasures fails and fails miserably, you need to acquire a whole new perspective. One in which there are people in the world who do not instantly devour fried bread. I KNOW.
My husband, on the other hand, considers manipulating Jack's appetite a part of his daily routine. If Jack doesn't eat or doesn't want his lunch, I just throw it out or put it back in the fridge and we go on with our lives. When Jack doesn't eat dinner, Phillip is home and we are treated to a nightly Show Of Force, one in which both parties are so stubborn and so annoying in their overtures that dinner is effectively ruined.
The Parental Differences Showdowns in our house occur nightly as well.
A few nights ago we went out to dinner with Phillip's parents and his uncle, who had never met the kids. It was kind of a big deal and we were going to a nice restaurant and I wanted the kids to be cute and sweet and perfect. Of course Jack didn't nap until he fell asleep in the car, making for an extra super cranky boy at the restaurant. His behavior was already atrocious without the added benefit of coaxing him to eat, but Phillip did so anyway. And Internet, it was mortifying. I mean, Jack was being awful, and then here's Phillip insisting he have a bite of fried rice before he can have a shrimp chip. And then it was a bite of white rice. Like there is a nutritional difference between white rice and a shrimp chip! GAH!
Food is SUCH a big deal in most of the Asian-American families I know. Food is love. Food is joy. And when your grandson won't eat a single thing on the table, perhaps you get sort of desperate and distraught. How can this be? How can his parents let this happen? It wasn't until this last family dinner that I realized maybe Phillip's personal mission to force the boy to eat, especially in front of his parents, has something to do with wanting to prove he's a good dad. Showing his own parents that he can handle this stuff. Take care of his kid. I mean, God knows the daughter-in-law isn't concerned!
In Phillip's family, an evening's success is so often centered around whether or not Jack eats. This hardly happens in my family. Not that we don't want him to eat, but no one thinks making a huge deal out of it will help. We're not nice about it -- he doesn't get dessert, he gets it again for his next meal, all that good stuff -- but no one likes enduring another episode of Talk Jack Into Trying The Spaghetti.
This is hard for me to figure out since I (OBVIOUSLY) have an opinion about how this not-wanting-to-eat thing should be handled. But now I'm feeling like it's not just a not-my-family thing, but a CULTURAL thing and that makes it more sensitive and harder to crack.
Is there anything you feel like you have to just Let Go when dealing with different families?