Feeding kids is a shitty task. The relationship between a parent/caregiver and mealtime is confusing and multi faceted and can’t be easily summed up to those who have never had the (ahem) pleasure of caring for kids. Comedians spend lots of time talking about feeding kids. Sometimes it’s kind of funny, even though most of the time it’s the same schlocky bullshit, regardless of how humorously the whole concept is delivered. Essentially, it goes like this: “kids don’t like to eat and they’re messy as shit and it’s infuriating.” And, well, that’s true. That’s a big part of why feeding kids sucks, but it’s not nearly the whole story. Feeding kids sucks on a deep, molecular level that teases your pleasure and relaxation sensors, makes you feel incredibly guilty, sends you into blind rages and ultimately reduces you to a simpering, teary eyed blob of defeated shit, huddled over the kitchen sink eating hotdog buns covered in jelly while a beautiful steak passes its expiration date in your fridge. The whole thing is so complex, I’m not sure I’ll even do it justice, but fuck it. I’ll try. I got nothing better to do.
So, your kid is hungry. He’s been screaming about it for a while. There are four places that you can take a kid to eat. They are 1) your house 2) some kind of picnic or lunchroom area (if you’re out somewhere), 3) a restaurant or 4) your tit. Which of these four you choose is almost always a predetermined, set-in-stone, no-choice about-it-option. If you’re out somewhere, like, say the museum or the park, and home is far away and you don’t have money to be spending on shitty fast food, you’re eating the bagged lunch you have with you. If you are by the house, or sitting in your house, you’re eating at home. If you’ve planned on eating at a restaurant or you’ve just neglected to plan, you’re eating at a restaurant and finally, if your kid is breastfeeding, you’re feeding them with your tit.
This isn’t a nebulous setup. The barge of parenthood turns slowly and short of the old “fuck it, fuck you kids! We’re going the FUCK HOME!” move that you CAN pull if you’re out somewhere (which will blow up all over you, because if they’re hungry, that car ride/train ride/Bataan death march home is gonna suck the dick off a dog), once you lock into something, you’re stuck with your choice, regardless of extenuating circumstances.
But kids are fucking stupid and they have no idea about parameters or restricted choices or any of that shit. And they definitely don’t realize how much of an ungodly pain in the ass it is to just simply navigate your way to the cafeteria room in the museum, through all the other defeated parents and obnoxious kids on field trips to the shitty bit of table in the corner of the shitty, dismal room in the basement of the fucking museum, to keep an eye on your wiggly, hungry, ingrate children in a sea of wiggly, hungry ingrate children while you dig through the unholy pile of bullshit you have with you to find the two squished peanutbutter sandwiches in the bottom of your bag only to be told “Dad, I don’t want that. I want pizza.”
Well, there’s no fucking pizza here. It’s this or nothing.
Okay. Tell you what. You find a fucking pizza and you can have it. In fact, you can eat it right off my face. How about that? Short of that, all daddy has is peanut butter sandwiches. And they’re really yummy. See, look, I’m having a bite.
The end result: Them: Hungry, shitty, resentful kids who don’t like the museum or you. You: eating squished up peanut butter sandwiches for lunch, defeated by the lack of any reward for the herculean effort you put forth packing lunch and taking kids to the fucking museum only to be reminded that you’ve fucked everything up again (this is also often when the kids start losing it, and other people [non parents, who have this shit ALL figured out] start looking at you like you’re some kind of shitty dad. All they see is a kid screaming “I’m HUNGRY!” and you, sitting there impassively, blithely eating the only sandwich that you guys have. Fuck you, other people, you will say with your eyes as you eat a sandwich in front of your crying child. HE DIDN’T WANT THE FUCKING SANDWICH. Anway….)
Or maybe you’re at a restaurant? Niiiiiice. Your kids are squirming all over the place. They’re probably eating the gum off from under the table and they’re definitely commenting on the smell in the bathroom, even though the guy who’s making the smell is still hard at work in the stall. At the very least they’re leaning over the back of the booth and really sizing up the folks adjacent to you. Also, they’re making a mess that would make the woman that works at the all night diner by the bar cringe. They order some food. The food comes. Three things are likely to happen:
1) they don’t want the food they’ve gotten. They want your food, or their sister’s food. This is the most common problem, by far. Kids are terrible at picking out the shit they want. You can tell them that they won’t like the Reuben, but if your meddling mom has already gotten it in their head that they may like a reuben (‘why the fuck are you telling him he’d like a reuben? He’s four! He’s not gonna like sauerkraut or corned beef or rye bread. What is wrong with you?’ your mom: (pissy tone, implying that YOU have no imagination or faith in your child: ‘Sorry.’), well, fuck you. You’re getting them a reuben or you’re sitting there while they scream. Never mind that all any kid eats is cereal, noodles, hot dogs, pizza, peanutbutter sandwiches, chicken nuggets, pancakes/waffles and grilled cheese (and then whatever out-there shit that they like that’s unique and weird. For my kids, it’s bleu cheese and crackers, broccoli, and cured meats). You order them a grilled cheese instead of a Reuben, they’re gonna shit a brick. (in this situation, YOU order the grilled cheese and prepare to eat whatever bizarre shit they’ve decided that they want, and then offer to trade when they don’t like it)
2) They’re gonna eat all of whatever they ordered in like 2 seconds and demand more. This will continue until you’ve spent like 20 dollars on a kid’s lunch and they’ve ordered one complete order more than they’re likely to eat. (In this situation, YOU force down the last plate of chicken fingers that they insisted on getting, or you bring them home where they languish in your refrigerator until you throw them away, since your kid will be traumatized by the memory of that time in the restaurant where he ate six plates of chicken fingers until he felt like garbage).
3) The whole thing is gonna be irrelevant because they’re gonna be behaving like such little shits that you’re gonna have to pull up stakes and head for the hills. You can’t sit in a restaurant with shitty kids. In extreme cases (like, when you’ve really misjudged the restaurant and/or your kids’ attitudes) you MAY have to just pay the check and bail without even getting your food. My kids are actually pretty good in restaurants compared to most kids their age I’ve seen and it’s still a fucking nightmare to take them out. They eat jelly packets, dip their hands in the syrup, knock water glasses over, point at the gimps at the other tables, have to poo right as the food shows up and generally, they make a huge mess and scramble my circuits, but whatever. You can ALWAYS go home from a restaurant and the restaurant cleans up, which is nice (and also why you have to tip really well if you’re a parent. You should also make an effort to clean up after yourself at least a little. Who are you, Caligula?).
But if you’re already home, what you gon’ do? Well, you have a series of choices you can make for them. If you’re like me, about every third day you become wracked with guilt about feeding your child the shit they like and you decide that ‘fuck it. Today I’m gonna make them steaks or big veggie sandwiches or a burrito or [whatever you love that’s awesome that you figure they’ll love because they’re your kids and your taste has to have rubbed off on them, right?]. But this doesn’t work at all. This makes your kids openly revolt. They hate new, weird shit. To them, the entire world is new. They need a little bit of certainty on the plate. “Fuck your steak, daddy,” they’ll tell you. “Fuck your goddamned burrito. It’s yucky. I want a jelly taco! [jelly in a hotdog bun, folks]” Mealtime at home, in theory, is a great time to get other shit done. The kids are sitting there, eating and you can do all the fun stuff you love to do like emptying the dishwasher, taking a shit, or taking down the trash. But it never is. They won’t eat. Or they will and they’re demanding more jelly tacos. Or they’re walking around smearing shit on the walls. Or the little one fell off the chair and she’s crying or the dogs ate her taco and she’s furious and the dog is barfing. Or they’re fighting or they want your food. Oh, I’m sorry. Your food? Did you just sit down to eat with them? Well, they need some water. And that patch of sticky shittiness on your kids arm is turning black with filth, so you should get a rag and wipe that shit up real quick. Your food will be manhandled and destroyed by curiosity and your legs will be strong from sitting and standing every fifteen seconds.
Yes, when they don’t eat it’s enough to make you want to cry, but it’s not even one tenth of the shitty ordeal that has taken one of the last bits of leisure time that exists in your universe (mealtime) and turned it into a high voltage shitstorm.
Oh, you’re breastfeeding? Good luck with that. But please, the stories of how your tits are uneven, your baby won’t latch, your son who’s old enough to ask for it isn’t getting enough anymore and your sore nipples, don’t ever stop telling those! They’re great. Seriously though: breastfeeding is cool, cheap and the way to go. But it’s still breastfeeding. Recognize. You know that shitting’s the healthiest way to get feces out of your body and you don’t just talk about it all the time. Oh! What? Did I just compare the miracle of feeding your young with the miracle of shitting? Well, it’s secreting shit out of your body, innit? Look, as a parent I have nothing but respect for breastfeeding women and I know, babies gotta eat when they gotta eat. Sometimes it’s rough. And sometimes yeah, you gotta say fuck it and just do it anywhere and I hate people who are anti breastfeeding as much as I used to hate people breastfeeding in public before I had kids. And being a parent is a thankless whirlwind of shit caked razorblades full of shitty stares from other people who should just mind their own fucking business and leave us to our insane frustration in peace and god damn it! I think you should go ahead and breastfeed right there at the table. I do. Go for it. No problems over here. But can you put a fucking blanket over it or something? Seriously. Your miracle is ruining the experience of my shitty lunch with my shitty kids ruining everyone else’s lunch. Fuck.