If you keep at it, you will win. Sort of.
Salad with "dranch" dressing - devoured.
Fresh fruit - sucked down.
Sub sandwich with lunch meat that's a tad saltier than I'd prefer - it vanishes.
It seems that we've reached a detente of sorts, but only because I figured out the scam he was trying to run, called him on it and stood my ground.
Disclaimer: This technique won't work with every kid. It wouldn't with Boots, for example. With him, you have to create elaborate mental images of healthy food throwing a "Yo Gabba Gabba"-esque "Party in My Tummy."
Subtlety, however, is lost on Big Guy. "Healthy food? I'm sure she doesn't mean me." Only the head-on approach works.
You also have to be hawk-eyed vigilant, and for a while I was letting him slide into a junky after-school snack without first checking his lunchbox. Once I got around to unpacking it, I'd discover half-eaten sandwiches and forgotten fruit. The chocolate milk carton was empty, though.
None of that would have mattered as much if I'd kept up my after-school buffet, but life intervened and prevented the preparation of a fourth meal every day. It still would have mattered some, though, because I simply was tired of throwing away perfectly good food. Particularly since I wasn't buying "not hungry at lunch" as an excuse. A bowl of cereal at 6 does not keep a tummy full until 3. And on the days when lunch was leftovers he actually likes - pizza or macaroni and cheese - he magically found his appetite.
My earth-shattering conclusion: He's pulling one over on me. He is hungry at lunch, but he's just too stubborn or too chatty to eat. No more, I vowed.
So one day when he came home and pleaded starvation, I was ready for him.
"Mom, can I have chips? I'm soooooooooooooo hungry!"
I casually reached into his backpack and pulled out his lunchbox and its still-full container of peaches. "Here, have the rest of your lunch."
That was met with instant wide-eyed horror. "I'm not hungry for that. I'm hungry for chips."
"But we have to eat good food, not just junk. I don't think you've had a fruit or vegetable all day."
"Uh-huh. You said chocolate comes from a bean."
"Yes, it does."
"And a bean is a vegetable!" he said smugly.
"Coffee's from beans, too, but it's not a vegetable," I retorted, while secretly wishing his logic were right.
He huffed. He puffed. And he ate the dang peaches.
The next day saw the same routine. He'd taken a few nibbles of salad and drank his bean-flavored milk.
"Mom, can I have Cheez-Its?"
"Did you eat your lunch?"
"Ummm ... some of it."
"Hon, you can't skip lunch and then count on coming home and filling your tummy up with junk."
It was a fair question, since he'd gotten away with doing just that for several weeks. He finally grudgingly finished his salad and fruit before eating crackers.
Two days was all it took. Every day since he's eaten most of his lunch at his actual lunch time. I'm glad we've dispensed with that daily debate. It gives us more time for the afternoon homework hoo-ha.
Copyright 2010 Debra Legg. All rights reserved.