Things we all have said to make our kids eat

When you are in India, you get used to people commenting on your life all the time. If you are lucky, this audit happens behind your back and the results stay unknown to you. But sometimes the reports come to you when you least expect it, and from the last person you would expect it from. So when my mil’s new ironkaarama* rammed the pressed clothes on my hands and said, “Your son….he is a good boy!! He never gives you any trouble for eating right? He finishes everything you put on his plate fully I heard? You must be so happy he is not a fussy eater. Your son has made life so much easier for you, not like the boy in 4th floor! His mother has to run behind him to make him eat! Your son is an intelligent boy…just like his dad! “, you can imagine my reaction.

Apart from the fact that I have maybe seen the woman two times in my entire life and that she has never seen my kid or my intelligent husband before, hearing this profound data analysis about my son’s eating habits from a stranger, made my face go through a series of spasms registering emotions ranging from confused to shock to what-the-heck-did-I-just-hear, that the ironkaramma gently took a step back and said she will come by later for the money.

As I turned back after shutting the door, I was greeted with the grinning face of my husband. “She who irons, speaks the truth”, he said with a straight face. I let that go. But it got me thinking about her statement of how easy it had been for me. Somehow all I could think about was my darling kid’s toddler years when any food that entered his mouth that didn’t look like an unrecognizable paste, followed a projectile path out in an instant. How I used to love restaurants!

Now that some years have gone by, we have both reached a stage where we look at the food in front of us, then at each other, haggle the terms and conditions, and shake on the final offer. Yay to that!

But still I think parents all around the world would agree with me when I say that unlike us adults, eating-time is not really what you call a fun-time for kids. And honestly, all our dinner tables (who am I kidding, for most of us it would be our living room floor) would have seen a lot more tears, shouts, threats, warnings, negotiations, war-cries and howls than a 90’s Vijayakanth-movie reel.

And just like in the Vijayakanth movies, we all use clever tactics to make kids sit and listen to us. (No, we don’t tie them up and lecture them for an hour, notice I snuck in ”clever’ there people). We parents all around the world know some magical lines which when uttered during lunch/dinner time will make the kids finish what’s on their plate. In fact, some of these lines have been around for generations, so they are more powerful than the rest. But they all get their job done, if you know what I mean. These are lines that are not really shared between anyone, but strangely all parents are aware of it and I am sure would have said it at one time or another, to make their kids eat.

And so having some time to kill, I racked my brain trying to figure out what my most used eating-time lines were and came up with 34 of them. Thinking back, I remember reading an article by an American parent where she came up with around…maybe I need to update my database..Well, anyhoo, check my list and see if your lines are in here! And, if you have any new things to add to this, do give me a holler, I’m sure all parents would be thrilled to know ;). 

Here it goes:

  1. Are you going to eat that or shall I switch off the TV now?! 😈
  2. Guess what!! I made your favorite dish today!! Huh? No..not fish, your other favorite. No, not pizza. Nope, not gulab jamun. No,  I did not lie! When did I say I made gulab jamun? Well, forget what I said!!

  3. No, no! Don’t swallow without chewing! Yes, curd rice looks mushy, but you still have to chew…No, you don’t have to chew water. Please don’t chew water. Please!
  4. One bite for amma…one for appa…one for thaatha, one for paati…one bite for our neighbour’s dog…one for the cat we saw at the petshop last week…one for the other cat with stripes….

  5. If you don’t finish chewing, I am gonna take your veggie straws and appalams away. Yes, I will eat them all!
  6. Come on, just taste it first! How do you know you won’t like it if you haven’t tasted it?! Yes just one bite and I am sure you will like it… don’t like it? Well, try another bite, you will like it now…

  7. If you eat this you can be like Hulk! No, no don’t cry! You won’t turn green…I meant, you will be strong like the Hulk. No you won’t break our house walls..ok, you will be like Chota Bheem when you finish this.

  8. Who wants ice cream!! Ice cream is only for kids who finish their dinner!

  9. See amma’s eating this, appa’s eating fact everyone in the whole world will be eating this today. So yes you have got to eat this too.
  10. Is the food still in your mouth? Are you kidding me? Ok, that’s it.  I will not press the play button, unless you chew your food. Chew, chew, chew!! Swallow, swallow, swallow!!

  11. Oh no, eat fast!! If you don’t finish your food, then papa will finish it all. Oh you want him to? har, har. Very funny. Open your mouth now.

  12. “Ok..just two more…, did I say two more? I meant just four more…one..”.

  13. Don’t you feel sorry for amma? Pleasema…amma is sad now. Just for me, please? Ok, amma’s getting angry now..!!

  14. This is a special recipe prepared by the Hulk’s chef. Yes, Chota Bheem eats the same food too.

  15. Do you know how many kids are starving in the world right now?! (And yes, I played that card) 😳

  16. Hey…is that the police siren? Do you think they must know someone here didn’t finish their food?
  17. Remember that noodles that you loved at the restaurant we went last week? I made it at home today! Well…it just looks different, but the taste is the same. Just try it! No, it doesn’t look is the same noodles!!

  18. No, you cannot have cereal for dinner. Because I said so.

  19. Hey, did you know what happened to the boy who had broccoli everyday? He never had to get shots from the doctor! Oh really, you like shots? Ok..tomorrow we are going to the doctor.

  20. Do you know how many hours it took for me to make this?? No, that wasn’t a guessing can stop saying numbers now.
  21. Zooiinnggggg…..airplane attack to the mouth!!!! Say ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!

  22. No, I did not make potatoes today, you can’t have potatoes every single day! You need to eat other vegetables too!

  23. Oh oh, your brother seems to be almost done…hurry up!!
  24. No, we don’t have any more finished all the murungakai in the world yesterday. Won’t be able to cook it again.
  25. Don’t you feel sorry for amma? Amma bite? Just one? Please…ok, I am gonna tell appa now.

  26. How can you say you hate this? You said you loved it just two days back!!

  27. You love butter right? Avocado is like butter but green in color. No, it’s not yucky, it looks green because green is so cool! No no, don’t throw up!! Please nooooooooo!!

  28. If you finish your plate I will let you watch Wild Kratts, which you are gonna watch anyway. 

  29. Please? Why do you do this to me? Why? Why?? 
  30. Yes, that waiter is gonna come to our table and ask us why we haven’t finished our food..oh,oh see he’s coming, he’s coming, better eat fast!

  31. Did you know, God has told that if we waste our food, we will not get food in our later years when we are old. No, don’t be sad, he did not come when you went to school….He informed me in my dream yesterday. Yep, that’s right.

  32. If you finish your food, I have a surprise waiting for you! No no, you have to finish your food first! I can’t tell you the surprise, then it’s not a surprise.

  33. Have you seen bugs bunny wearing glasses? Because he eats carrots! Carrots are so good for you!

  34. One last bite? No really, just one last one…?

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padhs2k Written by:

Another dream-chaser.


  1. Bragadeesh Prasanna
    March 24

    Super.. My mother had used.. still uses all the techniques in Sama, Dhana, Bedha, Dhandam to make me eat. Although I am not a fussy eater, I like her ranting away as to how skinny I am because of my eating habits (I am not skinny by any measure). Good one Pads. Keep’em coming.

    • padhs2k
      March 24

      🙂 Thanks, maybe will write more often. Oh and yes your mom’s right, you are skinny from all angles.

  2. K.Thenmozhiyal
    March 24

    Padhs,chithi comments: Have tried everything as u did,then aftr 25 years understood,if I have another child in the house only this problem will solve, especially girl child,got it

    March 24

    Good One Padma!

    • padhs2k
      March 24

      Thanks Ramya!! 😀

  4. Anonymous
    March 24

    Wow….agreed most of the lines….well few more to add….”eat first…you already finished 2 glasses of water”…….”what curd rice is spicy?????”……………..”Dont talk while eating”………….”You will get 2 chocolates If you complete in 10 mins ( but mom one is fine with me )…grrrr………

    • padhs2k
      March 24

      Hahaha…hilarious! I have said the curd rice part especially when eating at parties! As for the don’t talk while eating part…never works for me! Mine makes it a point to explain everything only then! The chocolates one made me lol! Just lovely 😀

  5. Sarah
    March 24

    Spot on! I’ve used all of them.. Good on u and ur memory for making a list like this!! So funny when we read it though we won’t be laughing while saying it 🙂

    • padhs2k
      March 24

      Haha…true that! I have used many of them at the same time, how about that! 😀 And yes, it’s only thinking back about it that seems funny…living the moment is verrry different!

  6. Awh! Am going through this trouble thrice a day. Sometimes I feel guilty about the threats and negotiations I do but am just like every other mom in the world. Thanks for sharing this Padma. We need such writings about our everyday motherhood to pat on each other’s backs 🙂

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