In my house, a chocolate chip cookie goes on the same plate as broccoli and the rest of the meal. Why? Because that means my kid eats the broccoli and stops complaining about “Where’s the dessert? What’s for dessert? I hate this.”Hate is strong in the little ones when it comes to awkwardly textured, strangely colored and just plain wrong foods — which is basically all foods except dessert. Do you think I’ve lost my last brain cell? Hear me out.
Why You Should Dessert with Dinner
Consider the typical battles you wage with your kid just to get them to eat something on their dinner plate, in no particular order:
Scenario one: The kid eats a third of what’s on their plate to save room for glorious dessert.
In scenario one, you go through the seven stages of they’ll-eventually-eat-dinner denial: shock, guilt, anger and bargaining, depression, the upward turn, reconstruction and acceptance. Cue the wave: Don’t they know those nutrients are vital? How dare they? Well, how about no dessert! How dare I make them do something they’re not ready for or “too full” for? Please? I’m a terrible parent! Was that a nudge and nibble I saw? Yes! Um, hey… Yeah, this isn’t going to happen. *bangs head into table*
Scenario two: Dinner is simply a race to dessert.
In scenario two, you question if you’ve exposed your child to a little too much of the old-school Cookie Monster and the Taz, the Tasmanian devil from “Looney Tunes.” Because what’s on their plate has mostly ended up on their face, all over them, all over you and all over the floor. You think you see a shred of something in their mouth. Well, maybe you can get the kid a sponsor and put the logo on the high chair or something.
Scenario three: Your child expresses unnatural lung capacity as they incessantly pester you, “What’s for dessert?”
In scenario three, you consider if the Olympics will make “kids pestering parents for dessert” an Olympic sport. The gold medal might at least put them through college. You’ve also been guilty of placing a finger to your ear to see if it was bleeding, but that was just ketchup. You’ve tried random answers such as “unicorn poop” and ignoring them — but dang, the kid’s got strong lungs powered courtesy of the Energizer Bunny. If you feel exhausted just reading that, you know something needs to change and stat, because none of it works. I once was somewhere between anger, bargaining and leaped over to acceptance — aka sarcasm— and told my kid, “If you don’t eat, you’ll become so thin you’ll disappear.” That went over well.
Fine, Kid — Here’s Dessert with Dinner
Finally, I just handed the kid a plate with a big old cup of chocolate pudding, and she looked at me with a suspicious eye — and I swear her first forehead wrinkle. She looked at me like, “Mom, what is this dessert-shaped thing on my plate? What are you playing at?”She poked it. She sniffed it. She tasted it, and the look of shock on her little face was priceless. Yes, kid, it’s real, I thought to myself. You win. Honestly, the sign above my kitchen had become, “Lose all hope, ye who enter here. Dessert or death.” In a fluke of feeling like an utter failure as a mom, I decided to get sassy and experimental and plop pudding on my kid’s plate just to see what she’d do — and she ate it — but she also did something else. She ate everything else on her plate. No lie.
Chocolate Is Magic – That’s the Truth
Look, people around the world consume seven million tons of chocolate each year, and they’re not going to stop. It’s been around for ages, put into drinks and various foods and used for sacred ceremonies. People believed it had magical properties, and you know what — it does. Dessert with dinner made my kid eat all of dinner. If my hubby goes to the store for a snack or gas and doesn’t bring me chocolate, better be sure I annoy him — especially when Aunt Flo comes to visit. Human beings are obsessed with the stuff, and minus all the additives, artificial fillers and crap-ton of sugar, real chocolate is actually good for you. Chocolate releases endorphins and improves blood and oxygen flow, which explains your kid’s lung capacity when pestering you with ‘When’s dessert? What’s for dessert, Mom?”Plus, fruit counts as dessert, too. Just saying.
Just Hand over the Dessert
Don’t let it evolve to you having nightmares about your kid complaining about dessert and asking you endless questions about when it is. Just give it to them. Right on the plate, with broccoli, chicken nuggets and whatever you feel like fixing up tonight. Stand back, and wait for it. Look for the weird expression. It’s hilarious — and effective.