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News & Features » January 2019 » “Pancakes” by A.M. Haynes

“Pancakes” by A.M. Haynes

Are you a parent going through the Terrible Twos? Did you live through them and survive? Terrible Twosdays is a place to commiserate over the unending shenanigans of your Darling Children (as the online parenting communities say). Nonfiction stories will be considered, so long as names have been changed to protect the guilty. Inspired by our best-selling gift book for parents, Go the Fuck to Sleep, Terrible Twosdays joins the roster of our other online short fiction series. Unlike Mondays Are Murder and Thursdaze, we’re looking for stories with a light and mischievous feel, all about the day-to-day challenges of parenting. As with our other flash fiction series, stories must not exceed 750 words.

This week, A.M. Haynes tries to get her toddler to eat a balanced meal . . . or, at least, something other than pancakes!

by A.M. Haynes

“Don’t like it! Don’t like it!” the tiny human shouted at me.

As I looked down at the plate of untouched food, I felt the familiar lump start to build in my throat. I pushed back the tears that gathered in the corner of my eyes.

“You haven’t even tried it yet.” In the moment, I actually believed that her toddler brain would comprehend my silly adult logic.

She stared up at me with a quizzical look.

“Just try it and if you don’t like it then you don’t have to eat it,” I pled.

“No! No! No!” she screamed, spastically waving her hands around.

“Please, just one bite,” I continued to beg.

She gave me her trademark sour lemon face. It illustrated perfectly how disinterested she was in the food before her.

This had become the routine in my house. My futile attempts to create so-called “kid-friendly” meals would typically wind up in the dog dish.

I am the mother of a strong-willed two-year-old girl who doesn’t care for cheeseburgers, macaroni and cheese, chicken nuggets, condiments of any kind, pasta, potatoes, rice, or anything resembling a fruit or vegetable unless it’s blended into a juice or smoothie. Even then, there is a 50 percent chance she won’t drink it.

Mealtimes have become a battleground, not for the faint of heart.

After fixing what I believed to be a deliciously simple meal of grilled chicken, green beans, and white rice, she insists on having . . .

“Pancakes!” she exclaimed.

“You had pancakes yesterday. How about you take a bite of chicken?”

“Noooo! Don’t like it.”

I think to myself Can my cooking really be that bad? I pick up a piece of chicken and pop it into my mouth.

“Mmm . . . good chicken. See? Now you try it.” She picked up a piece of chicken with her tiny fingers. Thinking I had bested her, I smile inwardly. She holds her hand up to me.

“Mommy eat,” she suggested.

“Mommy already had some. Here.” I hold out some chicken for her, “Amelia eat.”

“No!” she pushed back in her seat as if physically trying to distance herself from me and the terrible food I had made.

“Pancakes. Syrup,” she insisted.

I conceded defeat.

Most days, pancakes seemed to be the only thing she would eat.

With a sigh of frustration, I reluctantly took away the plate. I bent down to retrieve the worn-in and overused griddle from the lower cabinet, coated it in a thin layer of vegetable oil, and turned the stove on medium heat. I began stirring the mix with just the right amount of water. A dash of cinnamon here, a bit of stirring, then scooped the mix onto the sizzling oil. A flip or two here and there and voila! Panca—

“Pancakes! Pancakes! Pancakes!!” I heard her chanting from her high chair.

I’ve tried many different pancake recipes to introduce new flavors into my toddler’s diet. We’ve had pumpkin pancakes, blueberry pancakes, pancakes with oatmeal, banana pancakes, and even chocolate chip pancakes. She had tried them all with the excitement of chewing cardboard.

Once my child turned 18 months, everything became a game of tug of war. She was no longer my sweet-tempered and obedient little string bean. Now, she was opinionated, defiant and ALWAYS right. She knew what she wanted and would give me hell if I didn’t oblige.

Our biggest struggle involved getting her to eat a well-balanced and nutritious meal or anything closely resembling such.

In the wee hours of the night I have perused countless websites promising mouthwatering recipes for picky eaters.

I’ve studied all the tips, tricks, and suggestions on dealing with finicky toddlers. One of main recommendations was to not be a “short order cook” by catering to whatever your child asked for especially after you’ve already made dinner for everyone else.

However, when your child is in the 3rd percentile for weight and you can literally see her ribs protruding, all reason goes out the window and gets replaced by a Mama Bear determined to see her little cub eat ANYTHING.

“Pancakes,” she said with glee as I put the plate of warm crispy goodness down in front of her. Her little eyes lit up. “Thank you, Mommy!” She had won. Again.

“You’re welcome, baby,” I replied as I returned to the kitchen to clean up.

“Mmm . . .” I am instantly overcome with joy at the cheerful sounds of happy taste buds.


Where would we be without you.


A.M. HAYNES is a freelance writer, blogger, and professional toddler wrangler. She is a graduate of UC Riverside and received her Juris Doctor from Phoenix School of Law. Haynes resides in a small suburb of Southern California with her husband and their young daughter where she is attempting to finish her first novel. Her passions include warm chocolate chip cookies, extra large cups of coffee, and online shopping.


Do you have a story you’d like us to consider for online publication in the Terrible Twosdays flash fiction series? Here are the submission terms and guidelines:

—We are not offering payment, and are asking for first digital rights. The rights to the story revert to the author immediately upon publication.
—Your story should focus on the challenges of parenting. Ideally, stories should be about children aged 0 to 5, but any age (up to early teens) is acceptable. Stories may be fiction or nonfiction.
—Include the child’s age at the time of the story next to your byline.
—Your story should not exceed 750 words.
—E-mail your submission to info@akashicbooks.com. Please paste the story into the body of the email, and also attach it as a PDF file.

Posted: Jan 15, 2019

Category: Original Fiction, Terrible Twosdays | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,