>Meal times are often “challenging”. By which I mean hellatious. And painful. Literally, physically painful. There is whining. Pouting. Yelling. Full body protesting. And that’s only Zoey. Demetri and I also add a certain . . . how to describe it? . . . je ne se qua. Something like angst. And frustration tolerance that is more appropriate for our shoe size than our wizened age.
But then Demetri came up with a brilliant idea: The Clean Plate Club. On night one of the Operation CPC , Demetri and I sold The Clean Plate Club like nobody’s business. As I took my last bite of peas Demetri gasped and pointed at my plate, “Look! Mommy is the The Clean Plate Club. That is AMAZING!” I was high-fived and fussed over. And . . . I felt pretty gosh darn proud that I cleaned my plate. Demetri finished his last bite of salad. I clapped my hands, “Daddy’s in The Clean Plate Club! He cleaned his plate! Woo-hoo!” High-fives were exchanged again, Daddy’s eating abilities were complimented, and I might have even done The Clean Plate Club Dance (and no, you will never see it). Then, once the raucous celebrations had ceased, a small voice from the end of the table said, “Zoey want Clee Plate Club.” VICTORY WAS OURS!!!
Thus our lives proceeded for a few wondrous nights in pain-free dinners. There was laughing and smiling. And more dancing. Dinners were eaten. No one was hurt — emotionally or physically. Clearly, we were genius parents.
And then last night happened. I slaved in a kitchen well over 90 degrees making baked apples, pork chops, and mashed potatoes. Which, BY THE WAY, is a well-known favorite meal of Zoey’s. Dinner was served. 30 seconds later my charming child declares, “Zoey in Plate Club NOW!” The fact the she left out the word ‘clean’ demonstrated a fundamental lack of understanding of The Clean Plate Club laws. So I clarified: “To be in The Clean Plate Club you have to eat all the food off your plate.” Zoey pointed her finger at me, rolled her eyes, and said, “No. Zoey in Plate Club. NOW.” And I swear she spoke slower than usual, like I was too dumb to keep up with normal conversational pace. Demetri clarified. Zoey apparently decided we were too dumb for verbal communication so she she turned around in her chair and put her back to us. “ZOEY ALL DONE. IN PLATE CLUB.” And then she covered her mouth with her hand for emphasis. Let me be clear. At this point, Zoey had eaten EXACTLY NOTHING.
Demetri and I ate our dinner. Which was DELICIOUS, by the way. I started eating the mashed potatoes off Zoey’s plate because I was too lazy to get more from the stove. And, let’s be honest, she was soooo not going to touch them. As I spooned the last bite into my mouth, Zoey whipped around in her chair and screeched, “NOOOOOO! Those ZOEY’S! WAAAAHHHHH” (pause for her to refill her lungs) “Noooooo Mommy!!!!! THOSE! ARE! ZOEY’S! WAAAH!” Demetri got her more from the stove. Which she didn’t touch. At this point, driven to insanity by the heat (and maybe by someONE else as well), I muttered, “You are NOT even close to being in The Clean Plate Club, kid. And it’s too bad because The Clean Plate Club is FUN. In fact, Daddy and I are going to go have fun and you can sit here and eat your dinner. BY. YOUR. SELF.” And, of course, you know what happened next: “ZOEY HAVE FUN TOOOOOOOO! PLLLEEEEEEEEEEEEEEZE! WAAAAAH!”
But guess what happened after that. THE KID ATE HER MOTHER FUCKING DINNER.