It should surprise no one who has read this site for any length of time that my older child does not like food. It started when she was eighteen months old with a three-day hunger strike and continues to this day: she won’t eat bread, certain kinds of pizza, or cake. Don’t even bring up the name of a vegetable. Fruit? Are you crazy? Fruit has taste which is the number one property of disgusting!
So after many months of fighting a losing battle, I decided to disengage. It wasn’t worth it anymore, the screaming and crying and multiple skipped meals. Her pediatrician advised this course of action, and I think it was the right one to take at the time. I was so out of my mind with frustration that one night I found myself trying to force open her mouth with one hand while trying to shove a spoonful of applesauce in with the other. A quick one, two! Except it was a little less jovial than that! Yes, a tad bit less jaunty and more like the inspiration for the title of her tortured memoir:
Force Fed Applesauce: One Woman’s Journey Through the Hell of Being the Daughter of a Mommyblogger.
Ever since then I have been that awful parent who fixes her child a separate meal at dinner time. We’d always bring it up with her pediatrician at check-ups, and he’d always ask, “Is she happy and walking? Then why are you bringing this up? Next patient, please! Preferably a toddler who has swallowed a nail!”
Jon and I were notoriously picky eaters when we were kids, but we both eventually grew out of these phases on our own. And I have the same hope for Leta, except things in the last year have been getting out of hand. When she started first grade we decided she needed to eat something from the menu in the cafeteria, an effort to use peer pressure to our advantage. And that worked for a few weeks, but then she became obsessed with wanting to know what was on the menu every day. Cut to several weeks of eating only a bowl of croutons for lunch. COME ON, PEERS. Can’t you play up your enjoyment of that bowl of pasta JUST A LITTLE BIT? Oh sure, you can go on and on and on about a one hundred and fifty dollar doll that you have to special order through Satan, but you can’t hype an egg roll?
Are none of you being raised by a Chinese mother?
And then last week there was one awful episode at dinner after another, a situation we have basically created ourselves. In fact, we take all the blame for this, for the fact that she can tell the difference between organic spaghetti oh’s and the ones whose main ingredient is high fructose corn syrup, and IMMA LET YOU GUESS WHICH ONE SHE’LL LOOK AT.
Cue our family therapist who yesterday afternoon just sat there shaking her head, and I was like, no! LISTEN TO ME. I have to get this out there:
I’m about to compare my child to my dog, so if you take offense to that kind of thing why have you not unfollowed me yet?
I remember the fear I experienced during Chuck’s first year, one of a person who had never owned a dog. What was acceptable in terms of discipline? Was I going to scar this dog forever if I went this far? And it took a trainer coming into our home and going, dude, that isn’t anywhere near far enough.
(It was LA. He did, in fact, call me dude.)
So I’ve given birth to a picky eater. One so picky that she’s gone days without eating before. I don’t have any experience with this. How far do I push her without causing permanent damage? Already she has daily anxiety over lunch, anxiety that gives her stomach aches. But the list of things she will eat? All awful food.
That’s when our therapist goes, “Are you finished? Okay, good. Now, shut up.”
That’s basically the recipe, no pun intended. No more talk about food. If she asks about lunch? We shrug and say, “I dunno.” If she asks about dinner? We shrug and say, “I dunno,” knowing that we will fix her a plate of what we are eating that night. She doesn’t have to touch a thing, but if she sits there and complains, she’s more than welcome to go to her room for the rest of the evening. No more emotion over food. Ever, at all.
And she promises that Leta won’t remember the incident involving the applesauce.
So, I know I’ve just opened things up wide for judgment and whatnot, but what I’d really like to hear from you guys are menu ideas. We want Leta to try new food, so where have your picky eaters been willing to go? (also, please hold me and tell me it gets better)