Friday 11 May 2018

7 Things Toddlers Do At Meal Times

If you are having a slap-up meal, you should not invite any toddlers. Toddlers have terrible table manners, they have pretty poor conversational skills and they are unpredictable at the best of times. They do not make eating out a pleasant experience. They mostly run away from the table, drop their food and refuse to eat anything. And eating with them at home isn’t much better. Or it isn’t at my house, anyway. Here are 7 things my toddler does pretty much every meal time:

1. Strips off
I don’t know why, but my toddler is incapable of sitting down for a meal fully dressed. If you asked her what appropriate dinner attire might be, she would probably show you her bare butt because that is what she wears for dinner every day. When I put her dinner on the child-size table she shares with her sister, she immediately plonks herself on the floor and starts removing clothing. My two kids eat their dinner together on a tiny table, one fully dressed with a bewildered expression on her face and the other as naked as the day she was born.

2. Eats my food
I don’t want you to assume I give myself the best food and my poor toddler is pecking around on the floor trying to hoover up a few morsels. We have the same food. I have my plate and she has her plate. Hers is a bit more plastic and a little less Emma Bridgewater than mine, but the food on them is the same. To me, at least, but not to her. To her, my food is where it’s at and it is all she will eat. And bananas, she loves bananas. Sometimes, she will stand next to the plate of food I lovingly prepared for her and scream because it is not a banana.

3. Spills her drink
I honestly don’t know if she does this by accident or as some kind of comedy routine, because the circumstances of her spilling drinks are always highly suspect. Sometimes, she pretends she has dropped something and then bends down with her entire body, hand and cup to check, thus spilling her drink all over the floor. Once, she gesticulated so wildly that a fountain of soya milk flew across the room. Then she toddlers over to the drawer, pulls out a cloth, cleans some of the spillage and then dumps the now dirty cloth back into the drawer. Every. Day.

4. Walks off
Remember when you were little and you weren’t allowed to leave the table until your mum said so? No, me neither, but I had friends who lived in houses like that. Well, continuing the long-standing family tradition of having no table manners, my toddler just comes and goes as she pleases. Her leaving the room is no indication of whether she has finished her dinner or not. She might want to ride around on her wheely bug for a bit, or she might need to grab her doll and feed it hummus (it is hard to get hummus out of the open mouth of a dead-eyed plastic doll) or maybe she just wants to touch all of my white kitchen cupboards and walls with her pasta-sauce-encrusted hands. Who knows.

5. Dumps unwanted food on her sister’s plate
We live in a terraced house which is particularly unfortunate for the families who live next door to us. The soundtrack to our family mealtimes consists of the six-year-old yelling at the toddler for putting half-eaten food on her plate. She picks food off my plate, eats a single tiny bite of it and then dumps the right square into the middle of her sister’s dinner. This, as you can imagine, causes an uproar. Every. Damn. Day.

6. Experiments
Do you know when you go for a nice meal and you have a nice glass of wine and you pour it all over your dinner? No? Oh. Well, that’s what my toddler does every time she sits down to eat. Calm down, it’s water, not wine. I am not giving my toddler wine. Don’t ring social services. There is no underage alcohol consumption taking place in my house. Even when I do give her wine, she just pours it on her dinner anyway which she then refuses to eat because it’s wet so there’s really no need to worry. Once her cup is empty, she will start picking up bits of food from her plate and dumping them in the cup. Let me know when you want to have her around for dinner, ok?

7. She rubs the remains on my trousers
As though putting half her food in a plastic cup and throwing the rest on the floor did not send a clear enough message, my toddler will then ceremoniously rub the remaining food all over me. She is very fast, much faster than I, and the daily smear in unavoidable. I have tried yelling no, I have tried running for the day and I have tried holding her at arm’s length, nothing works. She always wipes her hands on my jeans. As a result, my jeans are always dirty even if I have only just put them on fresh from the wash. When porridge-dashed jeans come into fashion, I will be on fleek.

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