There is a new event in our house: Family dinner without mandatory tears, hostility and long lasting disappointment! Yee haw!
Don't get me wrong. There are still those evenings when Nate refuses to eat at all then begs for cheese from his bed. Mack still usually gobbles half his plate in one bite and most nights both boys have half their tush on the chair and the other half ready to sprint across the room. Shirts are often used as napkins, so often in fact that Michael made up a song about it to enforce memory learning. ("Don't use your shirt...use a napkin") Mack still whines about a lot (too much cheese, not enough cheese) and Nate will still only eat carrots but at least no one is sobbing.
One of the tools that helped make family dinner doable (aside from the boys maturing) was to institute theme nights. Taco Tuesdays (from The Lego Movie) was an instant hit with the boys and I've tried to keep it a standard instead of using the opportunity to try new things. Every Tuesday, I make Really Basic Chicken Tacos for Nate and he eats one. For us, I'll add sour cream, avocados, slaw, veggies, and maybe even my favorite fish tacos-- but I make sure Nate has what he recognizes and expects and that seems to work for him.
On other nights, I'll try to have a Nate-friendly option. For example, I made this fabulous make-ahead Chicken Parmesan for us and guests but also reserved a few small pieces of chicken to make nuggets for him. If he refuses what's being served, apples and cheese are available but nothing else. Also he doesn't have to try a new vegetable but he has to eat three mini carrots. I may still be accommodating his pickiness but at least we're not fighting about it which means meals are more pleasant and there is more room for potential trying of new things.
REALLY BASIC CHICKEN TACOS
Slice 3 chicken breasts into 1/2 inch by 2 inch strips and marinate in 1 lime's juice, 1 tsp onion salt and 1 tbsp olive oil. Heat a pan over medium heat, coat with canola oil and saute chicken until cooked through.
Serve with heated flour tortillas and grated cheddar cheese... and in Nate's case, three mini carrots.