Monday, October 16, 2006

Now Accepting Reservations at Café Freakout

Dinnertime is the nadir of my day. Four fronts collide: Sean eats almost nothing, Allie almost always throws a tantrum, I hate to cook, Jeff gets home too late to eat with us.

Tonight we focused on the second item in that list.

It all started with the menu selection. I've learned not to tell Allie what's for dinner until she sits down at the table -- doing it any earlier just dooms the meal before it even begins. Tonight, then, I told her we were having pizza. She seemed pretty pleased about that, a rare reaction.

I then presented her with my gourmet pizza. (Becki will no doubt be cringing at this Lazy Cook Special: Slather tomato sauce on a tortilla, spread mozzarella cheese on top. Bake. If feeling particularly sly, mix some shredded zucchini in the sauce to eliminate guilt about dearth of vegetables in the diet.)

Strike one.

"I don't WANT THAT PIZZA! I want the pizza from PIZZA [local pizza place]!"

I've also learned to ignore statements like this. Arguing with her never helps. So I calmly inform her that this is the pizza we're having tonight and that we’ll get takeout pizza another night. She is still whining about this homemade crap while I begin to cut her pizza in half.

Strike two.

"I WANT IT BIG! Don't cut my pizza! Put it back together!"

I eat my dinner, ignoring her. After a while, she calms down. She folds the tortilla in half, informing me that she's made a sandwich. "Great! Enjoy your pizza sandwich!" I say. She attempts to eat the pizza sandwich, and then, the horror, the horror. She gets sauce.on.her.hands.

Strike three.

"OWWW! Get it off! AHHH! AHHH! EWWW! Sauce, sauce! Wipe it off!"

I wipe the sauce from her hands. Since the rules of this baseball metaphor dictate that we've technically struck out by now, let's just run a few instant replays so you can get the full picture of how many times she freaked out about the Sauce That Touched Her Hands.

We've been at the dinner table 20 minutes so far, and she hasn't eaten a bite.

I finally propose cutting her pizza into small pieces that she can eat with a fork and thus avoid getting any more sauce on her hands.

"Okay, Mommy!" she says brightly. I cut the pizza up, and she eats half of it. I refrain from beating my head against the table.


Postscript: While getting ready for bed, or, more precisely, while stalling about getting ready for bed and intuiting that my stress level is soaring into the stratosphere, Allie says, "Mommy, I want to see your head explode." Just wait, kid, just wait.