Whining and Dining
Illustration by David Norby. © Style Media Group.
I’m filling in for him this month because he’s recovering from his “research” about local breweries (see the story on page 44). He really puts 100 percent into his work.
For the past few years, I’ve been involved with some research of my own. I’m trying to figure out why my children will only eat a few items out of the thousands and thousands of options they actually have. I’m no Rachael Ray, but I can cook “things”—things that are even good sometimes! My 4- and 6-year-old daughters, however, believe that by just looking at food, they can tell if they’ll like it or not. Just one glimpse of a juicy slab of chicken and a green veggie and they know it will be the most disgusting things they’ve ever had. It’s quite an amazing ability. I love that all I have to do is place a plate in front of them and they inherently know that one bite will make them sick.
I’ve tried all the tricks—bribing, begging, threatening; I’ve tried the recipes where you hide the vegetables (their skill is unbeatable). If you’ve never believed in psychics, I know two kids who will change your mind. On the rare occasion when I get them to try something, I’m, first and foremost, proud of myself for making it past their first line of defense. Then I hold my breath as I wait for the verdict. My 4-year-old tends to accept new cuisine more often than the 6-year-old. She’s also less dramatic about it. Have you ever witnessed someone take a microscopic bite of food, then completely freak out—acting like it was the most revolting flavor they’ve ever tasted? I have. Many times.
The other thing that baffles me is how one day they can like something, but the next day they can’t stand it. This just happened with applesauce. Applesauce! How do you go from liking it, eating it and asking for it, to not wanting to be anywhere near it? I now have a pantry full of applesauce and no one to eat it.
I’m hoping my children will still grow and remain healthy even though their diet consists of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches (sans crust), chicken nuggets, and buttered noodles. Although, those selections may change at any moment—as I’m writing this they could decide noodles are nauseating.
When my girls were babies I had a picture in my head of how it would be when they started eating real food: Our family sitting down for dinner, everyone with the same food on their plates, compliments flying over the table. The sad reality, however, paints a much different picture.
I hear this is a phase. Isn’t that always the answer when your kids aren’t doing what you want them to do? “Oh, it’s a phase. No need to worry. They’ll outgrow it.” Until then, I suppose it’s OK that ketchup is a food group and that my research will be unfinished…just like their dinner plates.