Monday, April 27, 2015


        Our day has begun in the usual way. Their mother has dropped off Kiley and Mackey at 6am sharp. The battle over which I will carry from their mother's car first is over (Kiley won because it is her turn despite what Mackey claims) and both royal princesses are safely entrenched in my comfortable kitchen. Kiley is very pleased with herself for having been carried into the house first, and Mackey is slightly sulky for having lost that battle, one small tear still clinging to the corner of her eye. The day has begun, the first battle is over, and it is now breakfast time.

        Mackey loves breakfast time. Mackey loves to eat. Kiley hates breakfast and, generally speaking, doesn't like to eat. She will chow down when she is hungry but doesn't seem to get hungry very often. She can go a long way on a little bit and only needs to refuel once in a great while. Most kids are hungry in the morning, but not Kiley. Getting her to eat a decent meal in the morning is an everyday battle. A battle I sometimes win and sometimes lose.

        The battle begins when I ask Mackey what she wants to eat. Then, because she is only nineteen months old, I have to offer suggestions, and regardless of what I suggest, she agrees to it. "Do you want some cereal, Mackey?" I ask. "Yeah!" comes the reply as she tries to climb into one of the kitchen chairs. I snatch her up and strap her into her booster seat, which she doesn't like but will tolerate with a minimum of fuss if food is being offered. I plop a bowl of cereal in front of her and hand her a plastic spoon. She goes to town.

        "Do you want some cereal?" I ask Kiley. "No!" she says. "I want cinnamon rolls." (She always wants cinnamon rolls, which is a treat I sometimes allow them at breakfast. She likes to make them too and surprise Uncle Tom with them when he comes down stairs. She is proud of her cinnamon roll making abilities.) I inform her that we are not having cinnamon rolls today and, after some heated discussion, I plop a bowl of cereal down in front of her. She pointedly doesn't look at it and I pointedly don't draw attention to it, but just carry on with our normal morning conversation. After a while she becomes distracted by what we are talking about, forgets that we are engaged in a battle of wills, and absently puts a spoonful of cereal into her mouth. Around this time Mackey has emptied her bowl and is picking bits of cereal off of her cheeks and chin and consuming them.

Here's Kiley showing off her baking skills at her Mother's house.

        I ask Mackey, "Do you want some toast?" "Yeah!" she replies. "How about you, Kiley?" "No" comes the answer. I make four pieces of toast, put two down in front of Mackey and two down in front of Kiley. Mackey begins devouring her toast and Kiley, if I'm lucky, nibbles on another spoonful of cereal.

        While all of this is going on, Mister Pickles is standing at the top of the stairs and whining. Despite repeated pleas from the girls to bring him downstairs (they love everything about Mister Pickles) I leave him where he is. Mister Pickles loves breakfast time, especially when the girls are here, because the pickings are plentiful when they are around. Kiley loves to feed Mister Pickles and will give him her entire breakfast if allowed to do so, and as far as Mackey is concerned feeding Mister Pickles is almost as much fun as feeding herself. For this reason Mister Pickles, who is far too cowardly to attempt anything as terrifying as navigating the stairs by himself and must be carried down, remains at the top of the stairs crying until after breakfast.

         Mackey has finished her toast but Kiley has only eaten a small amount of cereal and taken a single bite of toast. I can see where this is going so I pull out the big guns. "Does anyone want a sausage biscuit" I ask. They both reply in the affirmative. Both of the girls love sausage biscuits which are little bite sized sausage patties between two halves of a little biscuit. They are tiny, microwaveable, breakfast sandwiches. I heat a couple up and give one to each girl. They both remove the sausages from the biscuits and begin eating the sausages, sans biscuits. Mackey will often eat the biscuit as well but separately from the sausage. Kiley will not eat the biscuit. Usually, Mister Pickles ends up getting all of Kiley's biscuit and at least some of Mackey's. Strangely enough, even though they are not all that fond of the biscuit part of the sausage biscuits, they will not accept a sausage by itself. They want sausage biscuits not sausages despite the fact that they usually discard the biscuits themselves.

        While they are eating their so-called sausage biscuits, I put some blueberries into a bowl and give it to them to share. They both love blueberries and scarf them down in no time at all. Sometimes I will give them little blueberry muffins, which are bite-sized, ready to eat breakfast treats, which they also love. Occasionally, Uncle Tom will bake real blueberry muffins for their breakfast and his. They are not as wild about that kind, but they enjoy the baking process.

        So at this point breakfast is just about over. Mackey has eaten a bowl of cereal, two pieces of toast, a sausage biscuit (sometimes two), and some blueberries. Kiley has eaten a couple of spoonfuls of cereal, a couple of bites of toast, a sausage biscuit, and some blueberries. They both retire to the family room with a sippy cup of milk.

        Lunch is basically the same story. Kiley doesn't like lunch any more than she does breakfast unless it is something she loves, like pizza. Dinner I am not involved in. Kiley seems to eat for pleasure but not to satisfy hunger. She will eat the few things she likes but if there is nothing she likes available, she won't eat at all and never complain about being hungry. So I try to keep the nutritious things she likes available. She likes fruit, especially blueberries, strawberries, and grapes. Bananas are merely okay as far as she is concerned, oranges too, but apples not so much. (Uncle Tom gave them both a taste of grapefruit once. They were repelled by the bitterness. Mackey's reaction was so strong she almost fell out of her chair). Kiley likes spaghetti, pizza, and stromboli. She likes colorful things. For instance, she won't eat Rice Crispies but if you sprinkle a few colorful pieces of Fruity Pebbles on top to make it festive, she will. She loves milk and drinks it all day long (Mackey too). Her favorite thing is mint chocolate ice cream. She's wild about it. In fact, she likes anything that tastes like mint.

        You can lead a horse to water but you can't make it drink. So too, you can sit a child down at the table but you can't make her eat, at least not without breaking her spirit. Children will eat as much as they need as long as you make food available to them. Mackey is a good eater and Kiley is not, but when Kiley was Mackey's age she was a good eater too. Somewhere around two years old, Kiley's eating habits changed. Kids go through these kinds of stages. Lately, Kiley has been more interested in eating (I think she is beginning a growth spurt), while Mackey is beginning to get a little finicky about food. Perhaps a year from now their eating roles will be reversed. If that is the case breakfast will be probably a little easier for me to manage. Kiley is much more stubborn than her sister.


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