THE CLEAN PLATE CLUB
I’ve never thought that children should be required to eat. In our over-indulged, obese society, it seems like kids should be taught to follow their appetites rather than scarfing Big Macs at every opportunity. So I offer small portions of food and let the kids decide how much to eat.
At least, that’s what I used to do.
Now I’m leaning towards the Clean Plate philosophy. Why? Because how much my children eat has nothing to do with their appetites. It has to do with how closely the food on their plates resembles pizza and chicken nuggets. And how much junk food they can scam.
Sometimes after school they claim to be famished… positively weak-kneed with hunger, and in dire need of graham crackers/goldfish/Ritz crackers/pretzels/etc. I allow them a snack, and lo and behold, when dinner time arrives, they can eat no more than a bite.
You might think that if they don’t get a snack they will eat more dinner. Not so. A non-preferred entrée always gets the same response: “HOW MUCH OF THIS (said with a withering look of disgust at the plate) DO I HAVE TO EAT TO GET DESSERT?”
(Note: I am not a bad cook. I’m a perfectly serviceable cook, and almost never serve the family anything that is truly inedible. I’m sure my dear husband will back me up. Won’t you honey? Honey??)
And so we negotiate. 3 bites of meat, 6 bites of vegetables. Ok, you don’t like broccoli, you can just eat the carrots. You’re smaller, so you can eat 2 bites of meat and 4 bites of vegetables. And then they argue, or claim to have already eaten 2 bites, so only one more is required. It’s enough to make Betty Crocker spin in her grave.
That’s why I’m considering joining the Mothers of the Clean Plate. MCPs simply splat some food on Junior’s plate, and Junior is not allowed to leave the table, eat dessert, pass Go or collect 200 dollars until every morsel has been consumed. No negotiation. No debate.