“This isn’t Burger King; you can’t have it your way. And for the record, the customer isn’t always right. In fact, you’re pretty much wrong 100 percent of the time. Oh, and your tips are insulting,” I said, stomping back into the kitchen.
I know this kind of behavior is bad for business, but my 4-year-old is the absolute worst customer I’ve ever had in my kitchen, and I had had enough. Quite frankly, I hope I get fired. I would welcome getting fired from being the short-order cook to two demanding tiny people who wouldn’t know a delicious meal if it slapped them in the face!
She used to be a delight, eating whatever I placed in front of her. Sweet potatoes, avocados and casseroles! Apples! Chicken! Even celery! I don’t even like celery!
Then something happened where it just all went wrong.
Overnight, she was refusing my fresh-baked (thank you very much) bread because it had butter on it. Butter! Has she lost her mind? She snubbed her nose to peanut butter and strawberry jam because — and I quote — “it’s red.” She told me sweet potatoes are “ew, yuck.” Also, under no certain terms, will she be eating “that icky chicken” — even though it was actually hamburger. If you’re going to be smug, at least know your protein.
Grapes — a food she could have eaten a barrel of just a week ago — is now consistently refused because she doesn’t like “the butts.”
After staring at her blankly trying to figure out her latest riddle, I realized she was talking about the hole left on the grape after being detached from the stem.
SAVE ME, SOMEONE. PLEASE.
The parenting veterans will tell you that you can actually turn down the position of short-order cook and just stick to “mother” — where you cook nutritious food for your children and they can either eat it or not.
Easier said than done!
These women are like the Navy Seals of parenting, where you somehow survived hell week and on the other end had kids who ate like happy little soldiers. Let me guess — they also picked up their own toys at 1 and made their own beds at 3. Teach me your ways, wise ones!
I’m trying these methods, but it’s not as easy as it sounds. Every instinct in our bones wants our babies to not just eat, but eat well; not just consume the food, but enjoy it. And if they run toward us with open arms, proclaiming we’re the most incredible, most beautiful cooks in the world, well then, OK. Fine.
So when they flatly refuse to eat, it leaves a mother torn. An internal battle arises between her instincts that want her child fed and her socially responsible side that refuses to raise the next Marie Antoinette.
Something had to be done, or I was going to make another scene on the lunch shift. Understanding she’s in a phase where she’s learning agency over her own life, I allowed choices on the menu — but just a few. This isn’t Cheesecake Factory. From there, she can choose to eat or not. And the funny thing is, she tends to come around.
If the Seals taught me anything it’s that I have agency over my own life, too. Something new mothers can easily forget in the flurry of constant new beginnings raising children. And guess what? I can quit my job as a short-order cook any time I want.
So I did. And I didn’t even give my two weeks notice.
Anna Lind Thomas is a humor writer and mom to daughters Lucy and Poppy and English bulldog Bruno, wife to Rob Thomas and founder of HaHas for HooHas. She writes for momaha.com.