Last night at dinner Ella was really shoveling in the lasagna.

Trish said, “Ella’s been eating all day! She said, ‘Mama, I’m hungry,’ more than she said ‘Mama, I have to pee.’ I packed the cooler (for their trip to the playground) and she ate everything!”

Our daughter is not large. She’s tall and thin, like me (naturally). She’s not picky — she loves spinach and broccoli and fruit — and eats often, but usually in small amounts.

At 10 p.m., just a half-hour after we thought Ella had finally gone to sleep, she appeared in our bedroom.

“Mama, I’m hunnnnry.” (The “g” sound hasn’t fully materialized yet.)

“What? How can you be hungry. You’ve eaten all day!” Trish said. Then, turning to me, “What should I do?”

Trish? Asking me for advice? I knew she was desperate. I guess she thought the hunger cry might have been a stall tactic. The scenario was a little confusing. Our dinnertime conversations usually devolve into negotiating the last number of bites of food Ella has to eat before she can be excused (“Eat two bites.” “I did eat two bites.” “No, I mean now, two more bites.” “I ate two bites.” “Eat two more.” “No, I don’t like it.” Trish and I are both conscious of avoiding food-issue language, like playing the guilt card or sarcasm about appearances. We’re so with-it that way.) Now the kid was acting like we’d been starving her, rationing her meals, one Cheerio at a time.

“Feed her,” I said. “Be happy she’s hungry.”

Trish turned to head downstairs, and I could hear Ella’s very sincere little voice.

“Thank you, Mama, for feeding me.”

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