Feeding time at the zoo: 2nd-8th June

posted Jun 12, 2012, 11:45 AM by Dinner Lady
I still despair about our food waste. On Friday I regrettably threw away 1 pear, 3 slices mouldy bread and only just rescued a bowl of week old cooked pasta.  But even if I managed to get on top of all this food waste, I could produce bowl fulls of discarded food every time I sweep up after a meal.  Most of it, admittedly, is beneath the high chair and so should reduce in the next few months...or years.  Princess Baby's signal that she has finished her meal is when she sweeps all the food from in front of her onto the floor and laughs. But a good portion of the detritus that ends up on the floor comes from the boys, who are more than four times her age.  Sometimes, it really does feel like our meals resemble feeding time at the zoo.  

Recently, while I was quietly muttering as I swept up yet another meal that had landed on the floor, largely under Princess Baby's chair, Maths Geek pointed out  "She's nearly one. She's practising to be a naughty toddler."  This was just the right thing to say, because it made me laugh. But it made me wonder: at what point in a child's development does s/he move from "naughty toddler" who we forgive and understand, to a child responsible for their meal time actions?   As usual, I sit on the fence, on the one hand expecting their manners to be more human than chimp. On the other hand, I recognise that they are all under six years old and the Queen's dining etiquette is probably developmentally beyond them.  
Like all things to do with food choices, the extremes are clear. They may not use their food or cutlery as missiles in their war games.  Neither may they jump up and down from the table,  run around during meal times or play with their food.  The Naughty Knight is repeatedly reminded that he is not allowed to throw his chicken bones behind him, because he is not actually a knight.  Toilet humour and raucous singing at the table is expressly forbidden (unless I am in a rebellious mood as well).  Yet given their ages, I do forgive them a modicum of giggling and high jinx, the odd bodily noise, and the use of their fingers to help push food onto their spoons and forks.   But the fuzzy middle ground is difficult to negotiate.  I find it difficult to define the tipping point in words, yet I know exactly when I want to start pulling my hair out, dreaming of threatening to put them into the play pen and fling dead rodents at them, like one might feed animals in a zoo.  

At this point I would like to say that in no way is Princess Baby implicated in all of this.  For the large part, she sits watching quietly on, picking up morsels of food one by one and daintily popping them into her mouth until she has had enough. And pasta sauce smeared as a beard is rather endearing at her age. When her belly is full and her concentration span has gone,  she picks up these same morsels and drops them purposefully one by one onto the floor before swishing anything left in front of her back and forth until it goes flying.  She is a baby and does not know what she is doing. 

 rotten or gone off – 1 large end of bread; 3 slices mouldy bread; 2 corners of watermelon which had gone a little furry (I did not realize it was in fridge – my mother had brought it down for the children, I think, while we were up at the awards – I claim ignorance, does that absolve me?); 1 pear; lump of mouldy cheese; handful of grapes

left on our plates – 2 corners Mrs D’s crust; 1 tsp cream cheese from Pirate Picnic

left overs I have forgotten to use up – none, although very nearly had to throw out a bowl of pasta: used it for lunch on Friday instead of cooking new pasta. Does this saving of the pasta balance out slightly the terrible rotten waste above?

Receipt

Local supermarket      £31.26
Vegetable box          £21.25
Supermarket            £132.81
Total June so far      £185.32
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