Monday, October 09, 2006

Let Them Eat Cake

At the grocery store this week (BLISSFULLY alone), I reflected on those innocent times when my children would eat baby food. Ah baby food. So easy to prepare! So easy to feed! You always knew how much food would be appropriate for them to eat by age. You always knew how much they had eaten. I loved baby food. The boys loved baby food.

They eventually moved from baby food to incorporating some solid foods - cheerios, bananas, toast. They ate mixed vegetables and peas with gusto. I was so proud! And so terribly smug.

Now, for the record, I just want to make a list of the few foods my boys will actually consume. So that I will always remember that when you are smug, it will come back to haunt you:

1 - Pretzels/goldfish crackers/dino crackers/some cereals
2 - Plain tortillas (just J)
3 - Bread (usually both, but J prefers the tortillas)
4 - Dino nuggets (these are actually made from chicken, not dinosaurs)
5 - Mini-corn dogs, sans the dogs (yes, this means just the corn batter coating)
6 - Fish sticks (well, only N will eat these in all honesty)
7 - Plain cheese pizza (only J will eat this, N won't touch it)
8 - Doritos or any other unhealthy chip-like substance
9 - Most fruit (unless it looks too weird or too colorful)
10 - Cheese (on days when the moon in the right position and again, it doesn't look too weird or too oddly textured)

If I could sum up their meals with one word, it would be: monochromatic. Their food all matches. Except for the odd grape or kiwi, everything is a shade of brown/orange/yellow, just like my childhood memories of our 70's kitchen. I almost dread making meals for them at this point. They don't really throw food so much any more, but I would never quite put it past them.

I know the advice most parents will offer, and believe me, I've heard it. I do offer them all kinds of foods. I offer them what B and I eat for dinner. We talk it up, making it sound like the most delicious substances know to man. Broccoli! Like little trees! So green and beautiful! Reflecting the awesome power of nature! Fajitas! So yummy and colorful! So much the opposite of everything you have on your plate! Just try one bite! One lick! Just smell it at least! Alas, nothing makes them gain our enthusiasm.

We are ready to out-and-out bribe them. With candy. New toys. Anything. Just please god make them eat. These are the same two boys who refused to try one single bite of their two-year birthday cake! That mommy made specially for them! Two huge Elmo heads with red icing!

At this point, if they express any desire, no matter how small, to eat any new food, I will give it to them until they become sick of it and refuse to it eat at all. Ice cream? You bet you can have it every meal! Oatmeal cookies? Of course! Let's all eat cookies! Cake? Sounds yummy to me! I now understand where all those horrible arbitrary parenting rules come from, the kind of rules I swore I would never inflict on my own children - the ones like "you can't leave the table until you clean your plate." I still swear I will not do that to my boys but I do understand where it comes from. It comes from desperation. The realization that this is the one battle you cannot win...

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