An unfiltered fire hose of flaming condemnation

Short stack

One of the most obvious things I inherited from my father, other than the shape and length of my body, my chin, my forehead, my ears, and that highly flammable sense of righteous indignation that usually erupts in the middle of 1) the local news, 2) traffic, and 3) phone calls with customer service personnel who do not speak English, is a love for greasy spoon diners. The dirtier the place the better, maybe because that is somehow proportional to the amount of butter they use in their pancakes. If my father were given the choice between an expensive dinner with the current Republican president or a lunch alone at a truck stop diner that is cooking its hamburgers in a vat of bacon grease collected over the period of fifteen years, he’d say, DO NOT FORCE ME TO MAKE THAT CHOICE, GEORGIE.

Our favorite local greasy spoon is a place called The Blue Plate, and we often go there for brunch on the weekends, mainly because it’s one of the only non-chain sit-down restaurants that has something on the menu that Leta will eat. She always orders the home fries which are basically potatoes cut into squares and then fried. And then she eats half of a bottle of ketchup. Is it the healthiest meal? Of course not, but we’ve run it by her pediatrician who has eight kids, one who was exactly like Leta, and he said, look! She’s getting potassium! And ketchup is sometimes made out of real tomatoes! So stop coming in here with these stupid concerns and call me when she’s managed to lodge a quarter in her nostril.

A couple of weeks ago when we were on our way to brunch Jon quietly talked to me in the front seat about how he wanted to try to get Leta to try pancakes that morning. We both understand how important it is to provide a united front when it comes to disciplining your kids (when spanking, both parents should use the same wooden instrument) or trying to teach them anything, and we’re usually very good about that, except when it comes to her eating habits. Because that is a battle I specifically chose to stop fighting. It was taking years off my life and making me so crazy that getting up from the dinner table and counting to a hundred was not calming me down one bit. In fact, it gave me more time to think about HOW INSANE my child was that she wouldn’t eat a peanut butter sandwich. WITH JELLY. WHICH IS SUGAR. SUGAR ON BREAD. A kid who won’t eat a certain type of sugar. So trying to exert any influence on that was like going, you see that nuclear bomb over there? I think I could defeat it with this here spitball.

But I was in a good mood that morning, had slept in past eight o’clock and that had made my brain a little woozy and disoriented, and I was all what year is it? So I agreed to support him in his attempt. There we were whispering in the front seat of the car about how we were going to convince our daughter to eat a pancake. If that is not the dumbest first world conversation. Other ones we’ve had in the past few weeks:

This iPhone is too heavy.

Someone was using my favorite treadmill this morning, so I was forced to use the stationary bike.

This refrigerator isn’t big enough. Let’s buy another one and put it in the garage.

So we’re sitting there waiting for the server to bring us our food, and when he sets down Jon’s plate Jon immediately mentions that he can’t wait to eat his yummy pancake. I don’t say anything because I want to gauge Leta’s reaction, and it is exactly what I had expected it to be: “Pancakes are yucky!”

Yes, pancakes are yucky, puppies suck, and rainbows are boring. And the old part of me that gave up this battle a few years ago is starting to rumble a bit, and I have to bite my lip. Because I want to stand up and yell IT’S NOT LIKE WE’RE ASKING YOU TO SEVER YOUR OWN ARM WITH A BUTTER KNIFE, KID. But I remain calm and say, “Actually, Leta, pancakes are pretty good. They taste like cake.”

And in turn she replies, “But cake is yucky, too!”

Jon and I ignore this obviously misinformed statement and continue to mention the yummy pancake for the next half hour, and occasionally he offers her a bite. She continues to refuse. Want a bite of a yummy pancake? No. How about now? No. Now? No. Mmmmmm, this yummy pancake is really yummy, would you like a bite? No. How about I grab it off the plate and aim it at your head like a frisbee? No. Are you even paying attention to me? No.

And this is where the teamwork, the united front comes in, because it suddenly occurs to me to tell her that the syrup tastes like candy, and right when I say that Jon nods furiously and suggests that she dip her finger in the syrup and touch that finger to her tongue. The mere mention of candy causes her to sit up straight, and for a second we both get the sense that she is trying to figure out if it’s worth it to give in and let us win, especially if we’re telling the truth. What if it does taste like candy? Wouldn’t it be stupid to sit there with all that candy a few inches away, just to prove a point? And the voice inside my head is going HAND HER THE BUTTER KNIFE AND DEMAND THAT SHE REMOVE HER ARM.

So she gives us both this look, like, you guys are so cute, look how hard you’ve been trying. Just this once I’m going to indulge you, but don’t say I didn’t warn you! And I’m waiting for the bleaaaah and yuuuuuccck and moaning and wailing, and I’m holding my breath as she dips her finger in the syrup. And as she brings that finger to her mouth the overwhelming aroma of AWESOMENESS hits her tongue, and without even tasting the syrup she yells, “I LOVE IT.”



Excuse me?


I’ve never seen Jon move so fast, he was out of his chair running to find the server. And in the five minutes it took for him to bring Leta Her Own Pancake we sat there holding our breath, not looking at anything other than the table, afraid that if we moved at all that particles in the atmosphere would shift and she’d change her mind. She’d say something and we’d barely nod or shake our heads. Briefly I looked up and caught Jon’s gaze, and I knew we were both thinking the same thing: that pancake would taste no where near as good as victory.

She ate every bite of that pancake, and she has eaten pancakes every single morning since then. It’s the first thing she asks for in the morning, Her Own Pancake, and I don’t think Jon has ever experienced more joy standing over the stove. Partly because she loves them so much, but mostly because I think he knows that I am now more willing to follow his lead in certain matters when it comes to our very unique daughter. Thank you, Jon, for expanding our daughter’s diet from four to five things.

  • so i don’t know if i’m just emotional or what, but i totally teared up reading that. yay for leta, pancakes ARE yummy! hooray!

  • Jennie

    Mom and Dad 1pt.
    Kiddos 503,564 pts.

    Our daughter is 5 and still believes we are trying to poison her with Maple Syrup. Maybe Leta could help with that now? Getting to read your blog makes being a stay-at-home mom worthwhile. (oh and also the love of my children and such)

  • Cee

    I also wanted to add, I think it’s important for parents to realize that kids can have genuine dislikes, too. I never ate beef as a kid, I still won’t. It just tastes bad to me. And that’s not me being bratty on purpose, I just don’t like it! Kids should have the same freedom to develop their own likes and dislikes.

  • Adriana in AZ

    I wish I could just shut up, let go and let my wise hubby lead every so often.

    You are awesome Heather. Thanks for sharing this and congratulations!

  • @Beth – who doesn’t like mashed potatoes? MY MOM. She will not eat them. Or beans. Or peas.

    My dad doesn’t like angel hair pasta.

    I think that their food quirks made them tolerant of mine. When I was 4 or 5, something occurred between me and a hamburger, no one can remember what, and I haven’t eaten one since.

    I’m 35 now.

    Steak? FINE. But I don’t eat any ground meat, sausage, I’m even kind of suspicious of couscous. It’s all about the texture. I’ve accidentally eaten things with ground meat in it since then, and IMMEDIATELY known, and been completely grossed out.

    I also don’t like things with small bones, or baby corn.

    But I’ve rarely met a vegetable I didn’t like (see above for notable exception) and could not live without bacon. 😀

    You’re doing FINE.

    (and anon #100 is a douchewaffle. Leta is so not spoiled. Leta is AWESOME.)

  • Skylar

    I totally second comment mentioning “Deceptively Delicious” by Jessica Seinfeld. It is a fantastic book and you could be hiding all sort of things in her pancakes. My husband puts strawberries in our pancakes, they pretty much melt away but the pancakes are a lovely pink shade. PINK, she would love pink pancakes!!! Good Luck

  • Hey, one new food per year on average! That’s not so bad. By the time she has a kid of her own, she’ll probably know about thirty good things to feed it! And don’t you just hope she will only be able to average one new food every TWO years with hers? 😛

    I might suggest prioritizing though. Next up should be SCALLOPS, because SCALLOPS are GREAT. (Hence all the capitals.)

  • HA! The trials and tribulations of trying to get children to eat. Ugh. I am sure I lived on spaghettios with hot dogs in them and pizza for 3 years straight as a child. I turned out okay. (That is up for debate still of course).

  • Only a mom who has just yelled, “No, you have to eat all your hotdog before you get a poptart,” would even have the understanding that it takes for these kinds of kids.

  • Jamie AZ

    Yeah for pancakes! Kids and their eating habits can have no real rhyme or reason sometimes, but it’s such a thrill to have these victories.

  • Could Jon please come to my house and convince my daughter that PB&J sandwiches are not the work of the devil? Or that applesauce actually does taste like apples (which she will eat) or that Oatmeal is not just for babies, or other meat besides Turkey lunch meat can also be appetizing? Maybe please?

  • Sara

    Oh dear Lord I cannot stop laughing. I cannot begin to tell you how much I understand your frustration. I was The Pickiest Eater On The Face Of The Planet as a child. My dietary horizons have broadened by about a million percent since then. But so help me God, my 2 y/o daughter must have inherited the gene. Her father would rather eat a platter of celery, broccoli, and carrots PLAIN, without ranch! just the vegetables themselves! instead of a brownie, or candy, or sugar on a spoon. Why couldn’t she have inherited THAT gene?! WHY GOD WHY?!
    There was one time, a few months ago, when she voluntarily consumed green beans. Dipped in ketchup. Until she figured out she was eating green beans.
    The child lives off of fruit and CHEEEEEETH! “IwanCHEEEEEETH!”, every five freaking seconds of every day.
    I do have an amazing pancake recipe that involves applesauce, yogurt, dry oatmeal, and whole wheat flour. She loves it. It took her a while to even try them though. B/c it wasn’t fruit or CHEETH! But I dread the day she is old enough to watch me make the batter. It’s not exactly a pretty thing pre-cooked. That day will be the day Mom’s Picky Gene fully kicks in and she will declare that simply b/c of the way it looks, she hates it.
    Oh, and she sometimes, depending on the weather and her hormone levels that day, will eat crumbled chicken breast drowned in Kraft BBQ sauce.
    So I applaud you, fellow mother of a Picky Eater. May Leta ask for a pancake and syrup every day for the rest of her life, as testament to the one battle you and Jon won. 🙂

  • kri

    This is by far one of the funniest things I have ever read. Congratulations to you, Jon, and your wild pancake success.

  • Jen

    My son is the exact same way. He’s almost seven and has never touched a hamburger, a piece of pizza or a chicken nugget that wasn’t shaped a specific way. He eats two pb&j sandwiches every. single. day. and he’s healthy. If you sneak some wheat germ into the pancake mix (we call it ‘flavoring’) Leta will get some extra Vitamin E she didn’t even notice!

  • Jules

    Sometimes when you’re in these bizarre situations with your kid(s) do you ever have an out-of-body experience and ask yourself “What the hell am I doing?”

    Maybe it’s just me.

  • Ok she doesn’t have Aspergers ffs! She is just a normal child with some quirky eating habits, why must people feel the need to diagnose her! My cousin only ate mini sausages and potato chips till he was 15, does he have Aspergers too? My boyfriend hates cucumber, snap! He must have it too!

    This need to diagnose and analyse people is such a ridiculous trait, and forgive me for saying so, a very American trait. Kids need the freedom to express themselves however they wish, without some amateur psychiatrists giving their 2 cents. Leta seems to have a real sparky personality, with lots of intelligence and humour and a dash of stubbornness too. What exactly is wrong with that? Rock on baby, you’re only a kid once!

  • Don’t worry. I was a picky eater as a kid too. My mom tells me many many times how she and my dad got thisclose to getting divorced because of my eating habits.

    now, as an adult, i am an adventurous eater. ill try anything at least once. i didn’t get like that though until i hit my late teens. hopefully leta won’t wait that long to try sushi.

  • Bess

    Hooray for small victories!!

    When I was a kid, instead of putting maple syrup on my pancakes, I preferred sugar and cream. Butter the pancake, sprinkle on a generous teaspoon of sugar, and pour a little cream or milk over the top. The rest of my family were normal maple syrup people, and I must agree that maple syrup is pure distilled awesomeness, but for some mysterious reason I never liked it on my pancakes. (Today I usually eat my pancakes with a little butter, maybe with a wee bit of syrup on the side.)

  • i had a kid who didn’t like hot dogs!

    although as he gets older he gets (slightly) more adventurous – i was eating sushi one time and asked if he would like to try a “california roll” and he was all – YEAH!!! and he put it in his mouth and barely made it to the sink before his gag reflex took control!

    in hind sight i know he was thinking, “i love california and i love bread – i bet i’ll love a california roll!” 🙂

  • People that made me laugh today:

    #79: Doesn’t have kids, has never spent any time with Leta, yet capable of diagnosing autism over the Internet. Thinks Leta is “super fun” EVEN IF SHE DOESN’T HAVE ASPBERGER’S!

    #100: Did you have to read all 99 comments before yours to come to the conclusion that Leta is not at all unique in this situation? She is a typical, 4-year-old picky eater and that’s what’s funny about the story, the ridiculousness and relatability of it. And who “worked” whom…she ultimately ate the damn pancake, didn’t she? If she knew how to “work” her parents, she would’ve left the diner fifty bucks richer.

  • I have to warn you about refrigerator in the garage. If the garage is colder than the freezer, it will stop working and you’ll lose everything. At least with an older refrigerator. But it is so fun to have the extra storage.

  • Kristine

    Ohhh, I loved that bit about when you were waiting for the pancake to come. I’ve sat there just as tense, not even glimpsing at my toddler at times when I know my indirect eye contact (there could be a mirror!) could upset world order.

  • Until this day I can not stand to eat a peanut butter sandwhich especially with jelly on it. So long live this kid and the crazy eating habits we grow to love!!!!

  • My child is the Queen Of Picky. She eats TWO things. Salami and cheese. God forbid we put it on bread.

    Good to know I’m not alone.

  • Oh, this entry was painful for me to read, because my two-year-old is showing definite signs of turning out to be this child. I could see her saying “cake is yucky” without even imagining too hard. I’ll start practicing my deep breathing tactics now.

  • It’s good at least that she thinks it’s ok to change her mind like that and isn’t stuck on that, “I was right” thing. Go Leta!

  • Ellen

    Has she tried chocolate chip pancakes yet?

  • Ooooh. Just wait til you figure out just what you can “hide” in homemade pancakes. — Make sure whatever it is is finely finely chopped.

  • Okay, I’m the dad in this situation and our daughter will not, in no uncertain terms, come near, breath or even taste ketchup. She’ll darn sure put salsa on her spaghetti but refuses to eat a fry that has touched catsup.

    Why do I even care? I really don’t. I gave up trying to get her to even taste it. But there are those days I just want to scream at the top of my lungs, “EVERY KID IN THE WORLD LIKES KETCHUP! EAT IT YOU LITTLE %$#&”!

  • Jeff

    I have tears in my eyes reading this, just because it hits WAY too close to home.

    …But you’re going to get 327,000 emails about beating your child with wooden objects. Wait, ok, just one wooden object. Because THAT was the point.

  • I was on the edge of my seat … would the particles of the universe shift? Will. She. Eat. The. Pancake. ?. ?. O.M.G. where’s the freakin’ Bisquick?! We’re havin’ pancakes for dinner!! My already “enviable” waistline hates you … who cares! It’s pancakes. With butter. Real syrup. Cups of syrup that taste like candy. My life is not like yours … I needed to be on the edge of my seat over a flippin’ pancake. Thank. You.

  • kat

    That “I LOVE IT” killed me. This is probably my very favorite thing you’ve written.

  • Sage

    My five year old son won’t eat pancakes….waffles with syrup yes but no pancakes. He also won’t eat peanut butter OR jelly…you’re not alone.


  • Nancy

    The furminator is one of the greatest inventions of all time. With a Bernese Mountain Dog and two cats it gets regular use around our house. For those of you that can’t quite stomach the cost, check out I wish I had seen their prices before buying mine at the local big-box Mart of Pets.

  • My brother-in-law refuses (and has since he was about Leta’s age) to eat anything green. No green vegetables, no green candy, no green cake. In fact, I think the only vegetables he eats are potatoes and corn. He might eat onions if you mince them so finely as to render them ‘onion powder’ and cook them in something.

    I can’t really figure out how he managed to get any nutrition to become the strapping 6′ tall guy he is, when the only thing RESEMBLING green he would consume was Mountain Dew. And yet he’s out walking around, perfectly healthy (though potentially a little constipated).

  • Zak

    Just wanted to confirm that I would definitely sleep with Jon and John Larroquette.

    But I bet that John Larroquette doesn’t make his daughter pancakes.

  • Julie A.

    I totally needed that laugh. I swear my husband and I are going through the exact same thing with our 2 1/2 year old. I hate the food battle – congratulations on winning that one!

  • My gawd, take my daughter. You and Jon could use your “united front powers” and maybe Olivia will eat 5 things too!

    My problem is that I have 2 boys, ages 2 and 1 and they follow in Livi’s footsteps. I have to convince THREE kids to eat. Yea, dinner time gives me gray hair…

  • dragonhart

    My 4 year old has always eaten pancakes, but won’t even think about trying the syrup….even though we have told him a million times that it tastes like candy and is pure sugar….. some other *fun* eating games…..

    Won’t even try jelly….took him 2.5 years to try peanut butter, which he now loves, but still won’t try the jelly.

    Got him to try french toast….because I sprinkled powdered sugar on it….LOVES it….

    Okay, I know I shouldn’t care, he does not need these things. I think the most frustrating part, besides that he just WON’T try it, is that he doesn’t trust me. I have never tried to give him anything he wouldn’t like.

    More strangeness….LOVES cottage cheese – HATES applesauce!
    Huh, applesauce??? What kid does not love applesauce?!

    Also loves chicken nuggets, but constantly says he doesn’t like chicken……hmmmmmmmmmmmmm…………..

  • My daughter to this day refuses to eat peanut butter and jelly. She will eat peanut butter and fluff or just peanut butter but jelly must never touch the bread.

    My son would only eat pb&jelly if they were evenly spread and cut across in perfect sections.

    My friends son will only eat chicken. She just recently got him to try pot roast, he loved it. He’s 10.

    Sometimes we win one, most of the time we lose. But man those victories are amazing.

  • Jodie

    I wouldn’t eat peanut butter & jelly sandwiches as a child. I hated the consistency of jelly, and grape jelly most of all. It took me to adulthood to like peanut butter. And now I’m happy to have a peanut butter and banana on toast for breakfast. BUT, I did eat tons of other stuff… including pancakes. Congrats Jon for getting Leta to eat a new food.

  • Ellen

    I’m with several of these posts – Leta is healthy and normal. I may not have been a picky eater (well, not comparatively) but I was pure stubborness. There are no pictures between 1.5 and 4 OR if there were, I was practically growling, had my head down (at my own birthday party!), or threw the finger. Frequently just I screamed bloody murder. Like at Sears. On the stand. With the photographer trying to get a decent shot. Until my mother gave up, took me home, brought my sisters back and received wonderful pictures of them. My mother also said that my tantrums often took the form of holding my breath. She’d just gently help me to the ground in case I fainted before my body forced me to breathe.

    I was her third. I got NOTHING over on her. NOTHING. Oh, and for the record – God himself would not have managed to get me on that tumble bus so I think it’s awesome that Jon managed with Leta. Hell, my mother put me in nursery school to socialize me because I was her fifth appendage.

    Yeah – you’re doing great Heather. Both of you. And Leta is beautiful and life will always be more interesting with her in it. And ours with your blog.

    PS – every post is why I read your site.

    PPS – if ever in Boston, try the Breakfast Club near Brighton. Single train car and great food.

  • Yay for Leta! Is it weird to be proud of a child not my own? Yay for Jon too, and for Heather for not cutting off any arms with butter knives!

  • I tell my kids that this thing on their plates, this thing they WILL EAT, is not eyeballs and it’s not gopher guts. So quit your gagging and stick a fork in it.

    I do not care if they choose not to eat and they starve. Really. I won’t make them eat something they truly dislike (like real eyeballs and real gopher guts) but I’m not listening to their whims. I cook it, they eat it. Kids in China and kids in Ethiopia you know.

    I have the bestest pancake recipe BTW…straight out of a 1950’s Utah County ward cookbook. Fuck Bisquick.

  • This is an awesome post .. just awesome in its awesome dooceness. It reminded me of a Dr. Seuss story.

    Hmmm .. Seuss rhymes with Dooce. Coincidence? I think not! I hope you start writing children’s stories.

  • Jennifer

    I will eat it with a rake
    I will eat it with a snake
    I will eat it in a lake
    I will eat a pancake!

  • thleen

    This is the sweetest mom, dad and kid pancake story in the history of the world.
    you continue to rock.

  • 1. I love the Blue Plate
    2. I love Pancakes
    3. I love that your kid is not perfect (like everyone else in Utah’s)
    4. I love you (don’t worry-not in a wierd way)
    5. I am making pancakes for dinner tonight…because you made me hungry.

  • Tay

    I love the Blue Plate, I end up there every weekend as well. I’m surprised I haven’t seen you guys there yet.

    You should try Vertical Diner, it’s around 23rd south and 3rd west. It’s a 100% vegan restaurant, but completely greasy amazing diner food. They have better pancakes than Blue Plate, too.

  • Joy

    This is so funny to me because I have given up trying to introduce new foods to my kids – especially fish. They will eat calmari – YES, CALAMARI – but not perch or tilapia. Until one day my brilliant husband just told them to try it. And whaddaya know? One of ’em actually liked it. I am still amazed. And now hubby thinks he’s all that and a bag of fish.

Heather B. Armstrong

Hi. I’m Heather B. Armstrong, and this used to be called mommy blogging. But then they started calling it Influencer Marketing: hashtag ad, hashtag sponsored, hashtag you know you want me to slap your product on my kid and exploit her for millions and millions of dollars. That’s how this shit works. Now? Well… sit back, buckle up, and enjoy the ride.

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