The Picky Eater Project- Ch. 1

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Man cannot live on bread alone, but my son Jack can.

I sit here staring at him thinking of what a mess I’ve created by catering to his every whim, desperate to get him to eat something, anything. In my exasperated state I caved over the months, giving him chicken nuggets, waffles, frozen sausage links, toast…just to see him eating. At least he’s eating I tried to comfort myself. But now all I am left with is an almost 3 year old whose resolve has become so ingrained in him that he won’t even try one bite of something other than his standard. It’s terrible! And I feel so responsible and that I have done everything wrong that I could have done right, if I had just stuck it out a year ago when all this was snowballing before my eyes. I think I was too tired.

Parenting magazine had this lovely article in this month’s issue which completely steam-rolled my miniscule hope that he’d grow out of this phase. The article entitled, “Grow a Foodie!” had a jumbo-sized caption in the middle of the article shrieking at moms what the point they were trying to make was. It said

Picky-eaters are not born, they’re made” and in my my brain, in true mom fashion, I completed the sentenced, “and you’re making one”.

They could of just made a pop-up centerfold that poked me in the eye shouting “loser!”, and it may have been less harsh than that. The entire four page article went on and on about how we are enabling them to be picky, and that this phenomenon is strictly western culture because elsewhere the world there isn’t such a thing as the “kids menu”, kids just eat smaller portion of what their parents are eating! Shocking! The overall message I got from the article was: it’s my fault. Which is pretty much our deepest worry as moms that keeps gnawing at our sanity in the wee hours of the morning. The dreaded…..what if it’s all…my…fault? What if I made a bad decision? Or I messed up? How is this going to effect their adolescence, their potty training, or goodness gracious, what if they hold it against me for the rest of their life?? I can already see him now! Riding a motorcyle, drinking beer and eating pork rinds all because I could never stick it out and transition him to REAL FOOD…(and then Tom pointedly remarks, yes, but at least he’s eating pork.) Side note:It is never advisable under any circumstances to weigh options on any parenting decisions you have made from 11pm – 9am.

But it didn’t used to be this way! As a baby he tried many foods we presented to him and enjoyed things with flavor like chili, meatballs, lasagna, and carrots. Now, at 2 1/2, he has a strict menu of chicken nuggets, toaster waffles, pretzels, toast and PLAIN (not buttered! For the love he just might pass out if he sees butter) noodles. He is turning me into the parent I never wanted to be! I never, ever, ever, was going to have icky processed chicken fricken nuggets in my freezer or piles of toaster waffles on my counter for breakfast. I can’t tell you the countless kids I babysat for in high school and I thought I was never going to feed my kids as horribly as their parents were feeding them. Well that idea totally bit me in the butt.

I have one kid who eats anything, another who would if I would let him (even though he remains toothless) and the other who is pretty much the poster child for a happy meal. It makes me so guilty and frankly, very stressed out to think of all the nutrients he is missing out on, and now thanks to Parenting magazine I have pressure to purge him of these eating trends! I’ve got to change his preferences now before he’s asking for chicken nuggets and noodles at his high school graduation party. Or crying at his dress rehearsal dinner because some moron put a slab of butter on his bread.

As with every bright idea I have I always set out a tad bit too excitedly, and in Jack’s case, that’s a major turn off. I thought why wouldn’t it be a great idea to teach him and Mia about the food we eat and let them build their own plate? I sprang into action after tossing Parenting magazine in the trash and began piling different items from the fridge on the counter. We made carb piles, protein piles and fruit/veggie piles. I explained that at every meal, they had to have a carb, a veggie and a protein. Mia built her plate awesomely, made my Mommy heart swell with pride only to be utterly deflated a mere second later by Jack who insisted on having for his veggie: bread and his protein: bread. Equaling a lunch of : bread . About 15 minutes later, and a million and one negations on proteins(Me” “Hey, how about some Peanut butter?” Jack “How about not some peanut butter”. ) (Me: “how about CHOCOLATE YOGURT?!??!?!” ahahhahhaaaaa <<<— that’s me, breaking down in a fit of maniacal laughter at the absurdity of how much I’ve lowered my expectations) To summarize: on day one of the picky eater project, my son ate bread for lunch.

Is this a power play? Is he strong willed? Will he eventually cave? I don’t know. I think he’s going to have to give in eventually. I’ve tried every darn idea in the book and it’s not working. I don’t know how, but somehow, they just know when you sneak nutrition in. I did the old “turkey meatloaf cupcake with mashed potato frosting” thing. Stupid. He looked at me like I was from Mars. Then I tried mixing flax seed into his pasta sauce. HAHA. Yeah right. Then I cut up a real chicken cutlet to make it look like nuggets- nope. I even got out ice cube trays and gave him a whole flippin buffet to pick from and he just blinked at me and asked me why I even bother. Ok, he didn’t ask me that. But I knew that was what he was thinking. Yes and I’ve told him everything from he needs to grow, to pick food that is colorful, to let’s play a game, to I’ll give you a sticker, to just take a “no thank you bite”, to just-take-a-bite-of-it-and-i’ll-give-you-a-jelly-bean, to leveling with him and saying

“Look. If you don’t eat, you’re going to end up in the hospital.” To which he asked me, “Which hospital.” <<—and that is where I almost broke down in tears because in that moment I looked at his eyes and I heard “Bring it on, woman.” Oh dear, this is going to be much more difficult than I imagined. Thanks a lot, Parenting magazine!

So. Today is day 5 and we’re putzing along slowly. I’ll keep you all updated on how it turns out but I’ll leave you with a funny thought. Yesterday as I was making dinner so was my starving son. He was cooking in his play kitchen. He brought me a sampler platter of what he was making and when I asked what it was he told me,

“This is noodle and frosting and pancake soup with banana fries” Then he kind of stared at me with these big “Do-you-want-me-to-make-this-any-clearer” look. I know we’re both thinking this doesn’t need to be this difficult. I told him I’d have to find a recipe. Ha. I guess I’m going to need to get a little more creative than I thought here.

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Sneaky Signs

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Yesterday afternoon, the kids and I were having lunch. Chubs was sitting pleasantly in his high chair with his tray bearing a baby-buffet of chicken, pineapple and some crackers. Princess was seated directly across from him in her booster seat munching on some pizza. Her pigtails were sagging, his head was sweaty, we had all had a busy morning outside in the nice weather and it was finally time to eat and regroup before nap time.

I grabbed my favorite pineapple yogurt and some leftovers as I joined them at the table. Sitting in between both of the munchkins, I inwardly sighed as I ripped the foil lid of the yogurt. Lunch time was always an awesome time since it was the pre-cursor to the ever anticipated nap time. Plus it was always even more awesome when I had this

“ Yogurt which should be classified as a dessert” I thought to myself, eating a spoonful of the creamy amazing-ness and escaping away to a mommy-vacation via food.

Princess was chatting about how much she loved pizza and Chubs was chomping down on the pineapple, letting the juice dribbling over his fat bottom lip,down his clef chin and onto his orange polo shirt.

Normally that would have made me cringe, but with my magic yogurt and the quickly approaching naptime, I couldn’t help but think

“Oh well”

I glanced over at Chubbers again and he smiled his wide-toothed grin with pieces of fruit smashed between his pearly whites. He chuckled at himself (he’s his  biggest fan).

I smiled back at him,

“You silly man. Look at you! You’re making a mess.”

He smiled again with his eyes this time. And then he started blowing raspberries, or as we call it, “spitting”.

Tiny particles of pineapple and pineapple juice started to spew across the kitchen, towards myself, Princess and various cookbooks on my shelf.

My smile immediately turned upside down,

“No! We do not spit at the table! We eat our food…”

Princess took this as an opportunity to exercise her big sister authority,

“Chubby man, no spitting!”

He buttoned up on the spot and smiled.

I must admit, I was taken aback by how quickly he co-operated. Normally it takes at least 3 or 4 back and forth bouts of spitting/reprimanding before he chills out.

Pleasantly pleased, I turned back to my lunch and continued to eat. No sooner did I start eating again, did Chubs start blowing loaded raspberries.

This time, before I had a chance to say anything, Princess was standing on her booster seat shouting,

“Mommy said no spitting! No Chubs!”

I turned my back to Princess, facing the boy full on. He signed “again” to me, by placing one index finger in the palm of the other hand. Was he asking me if he could keep spitting? That’s odd. I shook my head and enunciated “NO” to him.

“No you can not spit again.”

As I was doing this, he stopped and his big brown eyes seemed to stare beyond me. After a moment he looked back at me with an impish grin,  signed “again” and started to spit!

I started up the “no spitting” thing again, and was hearing a Princess echoing me in my instruction. Suddenly he started to pick up the pace, while signing frantically “again!”. He started spitting more, this time louder and more excitedly.

Confused, I spun around to catch Princess in mid-sign signing “again” to her brother  behind my back. She stopped abruptly and looked sheepishly at me.

My eyes widened at what was happening. She was silently egging him on, while pretending to be helping me!

“What are you doing?!” I asked Princess as she started to toy with her pizza, avoiding my glare.

“Um. Is Chubs in trouble now?”

Wow.

I could not believe my eyes. Or my ears. All those sign language lessons came back to bite me in the butt. At 2 1/2 Princess had already figured out the best kept secret of sibling rivalry. She actually tried to get him in trouble! By signing to him but brownnosing up to me. If I didn’t turn around, she would have totally gotten away with that.

I was impressed by her cleverness but baffled by the scenario that just took place.

“I have to call Daddy” That always my way of getting out of the situation.

“I like your diamond, Mom” She offered as I picked up the receiver.

I looked at her in disbelief.

“Are you for real? This is stuff I used to pull in middle school!”

I shook my head in confusion. I thought they grow up in stages. Like baby, toddler,  kid, then teenager. Not toddler then teenager.

“Ooof.” I slumped down into the sofa and dialed Camera Guy’s number.

He picked up,

“H’lo?”

“Hi it’s me. We’re just having lunch and oh, you’re never gonna believe this one…”

Snot a good morning

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So this morning, as I was scrubbing down the highchair (for the first time in days….yet again another sign of the second time around) I noticed Pretty Princess had managed to retrieve the box of Rice Krispies from the table and pour herself a heap into her lap and have a snack. I sighed but resigned myself to the next task at hand which would be krispy clean-up when I began to see her face start squirming. Her eyes were getting teary and she was scrunching up her nose a lot. It passed through my mind quickly what might be going on, but instead of giving my thought up….I inquired,

"What are you doing?"

She looked up at me, and quipped, "Um, cereal booger."

Just as I had suspected, she was shoving Rice Krispies up her nasal pasage. Lovely. My thoughts turned to stories I had heard of friends with kids who had manage to get play dough, bagels, and M&M’s up those delicate tunnels. And I quickly wondered if she had snaked them up far enough to get trapped in her sinus cavity.

I walked over to assess the damage while asking,

"Did you get them stuck in your nose?"

"Yeah….maybe"

Laying her down flat on the floor I took a peek. The little booger, pun most definitely intended, was clinging for life not so far up her nose. Would I need a tweezer? Would my finger be too big? What if I push it farther up? Ahhh what the heck. I held the other side of her nose down and told her to blow. Out flew the krispy and she exclaimed, "Booger!"

After we went over strict instructions on what things were allowed in our noses (answer: nothing) I sent her on her way and went to get the broom to sweep up the mess. Before I could make it back, she was snorting again. Sure enough another blow and four more rice krispies came flying out! I couldn’t believe it! What was going on with her? And how gross is that?

Ahh so needless to say, it was a long morning. Only beginning with cereal boogers and ending somewhere between two dirty diapers and a hurricane-like rainstorm while running late to the doctors. At least bedtime is not too far off, should I attempt a bath tonight?