Sunday, January 29, 2012

I Eat Alone. Yeah, With Nobody Else

“I’m finished,” Conor states, gathering his dishes and standing up.

“What do you say?” I ask.  

“May I be excused?” he says robotically, sitting back down in his seat when I put my hand on his forearm. Then he pops up again when I nod my head.

“I’m finished, honey,” my husband says, rising from the table with his empty plate.  (He's a machine, my hubby; he eats wicked fast.) “I’ll watch Conor while you finish eating.”

“Mom, can I be excused?” Aidan quickly says.

“What? You didn’t eat your banana,” I reply firmly.

“There, I ate it, NOW can I go?” he mouths around the lump of banana in his mouth.

“Fine,” I sigh, looking around for a section of this morning’s New York Times.

Most nights, I eat alone.  Oh, I certainly don’t start out that way. Jim and I work pretty hard to get a dinner together for the four of us regularly.  After all, we can finally sit down at the dinner table together again and have a meal without Conor creating some sort of upset. (Well, most of the time.) I want to make the most of it.

In reality, I’m perplexed why I always wind up sitting alone at our distressed wooden table, the dog at my feet.  Am I one of those slow eaters?! No, that can’t be it.  Maybe? I never thought so.

I try to time it perfectly. 

Get the sweet potato cooked. Check.

Gather the nonpreferred foods together. (Part of Conor’s protocol from the NBU is that he has to eat 25 bites of a nonpreferred food before he gets his preferred meal.  He’s quite a restrictive eater.) Check.

Command Aidan to set the table. Check.

Pour water in glasses, giving Conor extra watered-down cranberry juice to wash down the unpreferred food. Check.

Husband takes care of tallying the number of bites Conor takes while I slap food on plates for the rest of us.  Check.

I sit and start to shovel food quickly into my mouth.

Mom, can I have another pat of butter,” Conor says.  Sure, here you go.
Mom, can I please have more juice,” Conor says.  Jump up and water more juice down.
Mom, can I have more corn,” Conor says.  Sure, dash to the stove and get some more corn.
Mom, may I have more sweet potato, please,” Conor asks.  Grab some from the counter.
Mom, can I have a roll?” Conor says.  Ok, take mine and share it with your brother.
Mom, can I have barbeque sauce?” Conor queries.  Sigh.  Sure, honey. Up I go.

Up, down, up, down, up, down… I must look like I’m on a pogo stick.  

Boing boing boing boing boing

I actually don’t put a ton of food on the table in the vain hope that if Conor doesn’t see it, he won’t want to eat or drink more of it.  (Still battling the bulge.)  Clearly, my strategy isn’t working, but I’m loathe to give up the effort. (If you have any suggestions, please post!)

I guess we could have a whole protocol to encourage staying at the table until everyone is finished eating (for both Conor AND Aidan) but, honestly?  We’re working on so many other things that it’s just not a priority. I’m happy right now to get through a meal without a behavior.

Sometimes I can bribe Aidan to stay with me if I offer him ice cream.  It’s effective, but I don’t want him to get into the habit of dessert every night.

And so, 9 times out of 10, I’m left at the dinner table to finish my meal in solitude.  That’s ok, though.  I catch up on the day’s news.  I enjoy the quiet.  I savor my meal.

Plus, it gives me a chance to drink alone as well.

Boy, George Thorogood has a big mouth, don't you think?!

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