The Hunger Games, Toddler Edition

Political freedom.

Religious persecution.

— Probably not the reasons why my son is on a hunger strike.


Protesting the Paw Patrol plot line.

Hates all food.


— Could be the reasons.



Determining my breaking point.

Testing boundaries.

Being two.

— Most likely the reasons.


Kids are picky, I get it. Toddlers can be a huge pain in the ass, I know. Palates evolve. Things change.


This is my third child. I’ve been to the bullshit meal rodeo before. I’ve seen my older two kids refuse food for bizarre and wildly inconsistent reasons. But I’ve never had a kid who just refused to eat on a semi-regular basis.

It’s got to be a phase, right?

It would be easier if the demands and aversions were predictable or followed some kind of pattern. I now know that would be too easy. That would not flex my parenting muscles to their maximum potential. That would not take me to the brink of insanity enough times in a day. That would not test just how far my wine stash will go.

Consider these two scenarios:

A) “Mommy, noooooooo! I don’t want pasta! No pastaaaa!”


B) “Mommy, pasta please! I want pasta! Pasta, pasta, pasta! Pasta with butter and cheese! Now please the pasta Mommmmy! NO NO NO NO NO NO NO MOMMMMMMY I DON’T WANT THISSSSSS PASTAAAAAA!”

My child specializes in Scenario B.

I could work with A. No pasta? OK, cool. We’ll move on. But this “Gimme, gimme, gimme this now don’t you fucking dare put that in front of me” approach has me off of my game.

I hear it in my head, all of the parenting advice:

  • Don’t be a short order cook.
  • Provide options.
  • Don’t make food a battle.
  • Just go with it.
  • He’ll eat when he’s hungry.
  • This too shall pass.

It’s like a simultaneous cacophony of bad clichés that contradict each other in the moment when you just want your kid to eat something. And when you don’t want to feel like your day is controlled by preparing food that repeatedly ends up in the trash.

Today my son took his “I want pasta/go to hell pasta” game to new heights by opening the pantry, pulling out a box of Kraft mac & cheese, insisting this was his “green pasta” (that veggie pasta) and yelling that he wants it. Not cooked. Not warm. Out of the box. Hard macaroni noodles.

“Donnnnn’t cook ittttttt. Noooooo.”

Seriously, kid? No. Just no.

I would’ve had more energy and patience to handle this scenario at 10:33am if I had not just recovered from the breakfast battlefield a mere hour ago. The one where he refused, like his life depended on it, the very same waffle he had requested a third helping of just a day prior.

Fine. No waffle.

But hard macaroni out of the box? Come on. I don’t need a dental reconstruction bill on top of this. It’s like a bad GEICO commercial.

This is the child who used to eat almost everything. Eggs. Veggies. Fish. Chicken. Cereal.

Now? This is the current comprehensive list of what he MAY ingest without a fight if the moon is full and the planets align and the garbage truck is driving by at precisely 7:04am.

  • Yogurt drinks
  • Cheerios (Multigrain, 3-9 pieces, total, but not the dark ones)
  • Waffle (edges trimmed, NO TOPPINGS OF ANY KIND)
  • Pancake (chocolate chip only – because, duh, that’s like having a cookie, which of course makes the cut)
  • Strawberries (unless there are too many bumps on them)
  • Banana (but not this week, no way in hell)
  • Grilled cheese (only if prepared by my husband)
  • Pasta (see above, kill me)
  • Bagel (cut into small pieces, with butter, heated but not toasted)
  • Chicken parm from the Italian place up the street (note: not plain chicken nuggets, not plain breaded cutlets made at home, but only the chicken parm from this one place, and only after the cheese has been removed and most of the sauce has been scraped off – thereby rendering it to be uncannily similar to said breaded cutlets I prepared at home for 1/17th of the cost)

In its entirety, it’s not a terrible list. But it’s important to understand what I’ve come to see as a few ground rules in his toddler mind.

  • Only 1-2 items on this list will be tolerated in a 24 hour period. Max.
  • Just because I ate it yesterday does not mean I will put up with it today. It’s a whole new game every day, lady. Can you bring it?
  • Don’t you know that reverse psychology doesn’t work on the youngest child? I see what you’re doing and you sound like a jackass, Mom. I called your bluff like 15 minutes ago.
  • I’ve been watching my older siblings and I know how to stand my ground. I can hold out way longer than you bargained for. Sooooo, if you want to get me down for a post-lunch nap before we pick the other two up from school, you’re running out of time. Your move.
  • If you’re going to write about this on your blog, at least mention that I’m good with puzzles and am probably the best hugger in the history of toddlers.
  • Can you move to the left a bit? I can’t see the TV.

This too shall pass.


This too shall pass.


This too shall pass.






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  1. He’s too cute to get mad at

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