Tag Archives: picky eaters

Beggars can be choosers

Do you have pearls on right now? If so, prepare to clutch them…

I no longer care what my kids eat.

Oh yeah. I said it. And I mean it. This nose ring and these tattoos aren’t just for show. I’m a rebel mom. (slowly pulls off motorcycle helmet and shakes out hair)

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I. Don’t. Care. You hear me, world? I DON’T CARE.

OK, OK, I do care. Of course I care. I’m a mom. (sets down motorcycle helmet and puts on cardigan) I’ll care about what my kids eat until the day I die. In fact, my last words will likely be “are you eating enough vegetables, honey?”

However, I did have an epiphany recently that means I will no longer fight with my kids over what they eat at dinner. (takes off cardigan and puts on cardigan decorated with skulls!)

I was 35 the first time I tried cream cheese on a bagel. My whole life, up until that fateful day, I had dutifully been spreading butter on my bagels. Like an idiot.

I have two college degrees, am a voracious reader, spent years working as a journalist, and literally thought cream cheese on a bagel was icky for no other reason than I decided it was icky one day as a small child despite having never tried it. And I held onto that belief for multiple decades despite the whole world telling me it was one of the most delicious combos ever dreamed up by humans.

And when I finally did try it (AT THE AGE OF 35), it was so amazing I literally stole the other half of the bagel from my 3-year-old son.

Worst of all is that this is just the latest in a series of foods I finally tried as an adult that I spent my whole life thinking were icky.

I was 21 before I tried coffee (and 27 when I tried it black for the first time).

I was 25 before I tried hummus.

I was 28 when I first tried guacamole.

And the first half of my 30’s has been busy trying and falling in love with crab rangoon, artichoke hearts, falafel, spinach dip, reuben sandwiches and all the cheeses outside of the “colby” range.

So, I no longer care what my kids choose to eat off their plates. Because, honestly, how can I expect them to have a more reasonable attitude toward food than I do? A grown woman who still has never tasted a mushroom (AT THE AGE OF 36) because the word fungus makes me cringe?

“But, Aprill!” I hear you yelling at the screen as you clutch those pearls. “You don’t want your kids to end up like you, do you!? Isn’t that all the more reason to force them to try stuff?”

And yes, you’re right. I don’t want my kids to be 35 and just realizing that cream cheese is the delicious glue that holds our entire society together. However, my mom once forced me to eat a tomato when I was six and we had a three hour standoff over it and it became a core memory and one that I tell everyone about and I still, to this day, hate tomatoes and refuse to eat them. So, that method isn’t always foolproof either.

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More importantly, I’d much rather my kids have a sane mother, a mother who is not angry and frustrated at every meal, than for them to have a diverse palate. I no longer want to be the mom who hijacks dinner over a bite of corn. Because that is what every meal was starting to feel like. A hostage situation. With exhausting and tedious negotiations. It got to the point that everyone was starting to dread meal time.

Which is why I’m taking dinner back. I want to sit around and talk about our day and laugh and joke and relax. I want breakfast to be a bonding experience and not a waterboarding experience. I want to hand them their lunch plates and when they say “I don’t want to eat that,” I simply respond “OK, just eat the other stuff” and BOOM. We move onto other things.

It’s a gamble, sure. My kids will likely end up with scurvy. But then again, pretty much all of parenthood is one giant gamble, isn’t it?

In the end, having a bowl of peas on the table that everyone ignores is a pretty small price to pay for wonderful memories sitting around the kitchen table with the people you love.

And besides, peas are icky.

 

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Stupider things

Here is the thing they never tell you about being a parent (or at least not in an official pamphlet form): Once you get to a certain point, past the “oh god, I just really need both of us to survive this” stage, you will spend the majority of your parenting time arguing.

Arguing about very stupid things.

For example, say you buy your small child a sprinkled donut. Because he INSISTS he wants a sprinkled donut. But then he hands it back to you and wants you to take off all the sprinkles. All the sprinkles off the sprinkled donut that he REALLY TRULY wanted. Because he apparently only likes the ghostly essence of sprinkles on a sprinkled donut.

Because 3-year-old logic.

Now, as a parent, you have several options here.

You could flat-out refuse, because it’s a ridiculous request. Which will likely lead to a stupid argument and end in a tantrum (yours or his).

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You could try to reason with him. Which will likely lead to a stupid argument and end in a tantrum (again, yours or his or, let’s be honest, both).

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And lastly, you could just shut up and do it. Which means every time you get donuts now, he will ask for a sprinkled donut and ask you to take off all the sprinkles. Which means, six months from now, you will likely have a mental breakdown as you are scraping sprinkles off the 27th donut, and while you are busy rocking back and forth in the corner, sucking your thumb and sobbing, your small child will turn to his father and ask HIM to take off the sprinkles. Which Daddy will likely refuse to do (because he’s not an idiot). Which will lead to an argument and a tantrum as they are driving you to the nearest asylum.

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Sigh. In case it wasn’t already clear, there are no winners in these kinds of scenarios. Only survivors.

And yes, I know. Hey, man, with kids, you have to pick your battles. But that’s the thing. I already am picking my battles. Which is how he won the stupid pizza argument.

What’s the stupid pizza argument? So glad you asked. The stupid pizza argument began because my 3-year-old claims to LOVE pizza. But what he really means is he loves pizza crust. And only the crust. If there is even the tiniest remnant of cheese or sauce or anything that actually makes a pizza a pizza, on that pizza crust, he will hand it back and ask you to remove it. It doesn’t matter if your big ‘ol dumb adult eyes can’t see this alleged speck of sauce. You are to remove it. All of it. And he will hand it back to you over and over again until not even one of those nerds on one of those CSI shows could find trace elements of sauce.

I know, I know. Ha! Ha! Kids, huh? They’re so funny with their weird quirks. But wait! There’s more! Because once the pizza crust has been professionally picked clean, he will then proceed to dip it into a small bowl of pizza sauce.

PIZZA. SAUCE.

No matter how much I explain the irony, my son doesn’t get it. So, do we go through this whole ritual every single time we have pizza? You bet your happy ass we do.

Because you have to pick your battles.

But you can’t always give in either. Because then they know that they own you, which, sure, doesn’t seem that bad now. But wait until they’re 17 and you’re having the stupid “being a dj is not a career” argument and they won’t listen to you because you decided when they were three that it was just easier to pick the sprinkles off the goddamn donut.

Which is why you simply can’t give in during the stupid “stop saying shut up” argument even though you know how stupid it is and even though everyone is staring at you because you are the crazy person yelling at your son to shut up about saying shut up because only grown ups can say shut up so knock it off and shut up because I am gradually going insane and so many brain cells are committing suicide right now.

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And so, in conclusion, alcohol is terrific.

Cheers.

 

Honey, what’s for dinner? Negotiations.

I’m not exactly sure when it happened. I have a feeling it was something like when you go broke: gradually, then all at once. But somehow our nightly family dinners have turned into one big negotiation session (occasionally escalating into a full-blown hostage situation).

It doesn’t matter what I make. It doesn’t matter how many options I give. It doesn’t matter that it’s Friday and it’s been a long week and I’m so over it and mentally checked out around 3 p.m.

My kids never want to eat the dinner I make them.

Ever.

Well, I take back that last part. My toddler does have a very specific list of things he’ll eat.

Yogurt.

Raisins.

Mac and cheese (but only the boxed, chemically-loaded kind…so help you if you give him a homemade cheesy pasta containing anything that resembles a nutrient).

End of list.

He’s cut out apples and crackers and spaghetti and sausage and eggs and corn and the actual chicken part of chicken tenders. All things I used to be able to get him to eat. He’s worse than when you invite your high maintenance friend over for a dinner party and she’s always on some ridiculous diet and acts like it’s YOUR fault that she can’t eat anything because pretty much all the food in your kitchen contains sugar, flour, gluten, fat, soy, chemicals and everything that makes life worth living.

And my 9-month-old is almost as bad as my toddler. I made the mistake of letting her try fruit and now she realizes what a sham vegetables are and spits out anything that is not fruit.

But I did not ruin my body, and my sanity, and my freedom, and that part of my brain that can remember if I’ve seen this TV episode before or not, keeping them alive and healthy for three years only to watch them starve to death because I dared to give them a well-balanced meal.

So, every night, it goes like this:

Toddler: Mommy, I’m all done.

Me: You haven’t eaten anything.

Toddler: Yeah. Cause I’m all done.

Baby: *sound of mashed peas being spit out*

Me: You need to take three bites of mashed potatoes.

Toddler: One bites?

Me: Three.

Toddler: Then I get Girl Scout Cookies?

Me: No. Someone ate all those while hiding and crying in the bathroom last week.

Toddler: Who?

Me: Don’t worry about it.

Baby: *sound of spoon hitting the ground because she whacked it out of my hand*

Toddler: I can’t, Mommy.

Me: Then you’ll just have to sit there while the rest of us eat.

Baby: *emits tiny Viking warrior princess yell because I shoved more peas in her gaping maw*

Toddler: Can I have raisins?

Me: No…(semi-worried he may actually starve to death)…ok, fine, you can have some raisins IF you eat three bites of mashed potatoes and one bite of meatloaf.

Toddler: Nah. I’ll just sit here then.

Me: (don’t give in, don’t give in, don’t give in) …ok, fine, two bites of mashed potatoes (damn it).

Toddler: One bites.

Me: Two.

Toddler: ONE! *starts crying*

Baby: *grabs jar of mashed peas and dumps it on her head*

Me: Sigh…

Toddler: Where you going, Mommy?

Me: To get raisins. I give up. And to get Mommy some of her Mommy grapes.

Toddler: Do you mean wine?

Me: Shut up and eat your raisins.

Call me weak if you must but feeding your children is a primal NEED. I NEED to feed their whiny little faces. Need it unlike anything I’ve ever needed before. Eat! I internally scream in my head pretty much on a daily basis. Or I’ll die! Eat anything! I don’t care anymore! Just. Eat.

And trust me, I did the hard ass routine. I’d make that kid sit in his chair until he ate all (then, ok fine, three, then two, then one, then how about you just lick it to see if you like it?) carrots. And every time it ended the same way: Three hours later, both of us angry and crying, and exactly zero carrots licked.

So, for all our mental health, I backed off. They both respond better to honey than vinegar (just don’t try to give them actual honey…or vinegar…or food).

Which is how we got here. Sitting around the dinner table. Making complicated and ridiculous mediations like a family of rich people in the midst of a strained but somewhat amicable divorce.

Two green beans for a fourth a cup of yogurt. One BIG bite of rice for the rest of Mommy’s cake. More milk if you finish the chicken part of the chicken nugget. I’ll take the beach house and you can have the Benz.

I hope someday it gets better. And I cling to this hope like it’s the last life jacket on the Titanic.

But just like the Titanic, I know deep down I’m doomed. That dinner will always be some version of this.

At least until they go to college and almost drown in the lukewarm waters of Ramen noodles made in a coffee maker.

Who hates Mommy’s lasagna now, suckers?