Dinnertime with a Toddler

Having dinner with Camille can be sweet, fun, and maddening too. Lately, Camille has been acting her age and doing some more of those things for which toddlers are famous – like saying “No!” a lot and working to manipulate a situation just to see exactly when and how she can assert control.

Here are just a few examples from tonight’s dinner.

On her plate were some grilled shrimp, pineapple and steamed carrots. “I don’t like carrots!” she announced as we set the plate down. This, despite the fact that she often gobbles them up by the handful.

She reached for the pineapple, only to complain that it had something green on it. Cilantro was part of the marinade on the shrimp and pineapple skewers – horrors! She ate a few bites, but wasn’t happy about the green. Same problem with the shrimp.

We kept trying to get her to eat carrots. We’d make our carrots dance and talk about how we were having a great carrot party. She just looked at Lee and said, “Daddy, you’re so silly,” and left the carrots on her plate.

Finally, when we convinced her to try one, she popped it in her mouth, chewed a second, then promptly spit it out. Good grief.

But we had a rare ace up our sleeves – leftover birthday cupcakes with pink frosting. “Hey Camille,” Lee said. “You can have a cupcake if you’ll eat some carrots.”

More quickly than ought to be possible, she tossed a carrot in her mouth, chewed and exclaimed, “They’re so yummy!” It’s amazing how quickly her tone changed!

She still winced when she swallowed the carrots, but she put on a good show and ate several for us. Then when I went to get the cupcake, I asked her what color flower she wanted on her cupcake. Purple or blue? Not that it mattered, but since I know it’s important for toddlers to be able to make choices, I try to give her the opportunity when I can.

“Pink,” she said.

“The icing is pink, but the flowers are purple or blue. Which would you like?” I asked.


Repeat this conversation a few more times, and you get the idea. I gave up and went for the purple.

But it’s worth it – we still get lots of smiles and chatter and laughs from her during dinnertime, so I can put up with these two-isms. Coming from her – they even seem cute.

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