When Sam was six weeks old, I went to dinner with my MIL, BIL, cousin and her son who was 15 months at the time. Her son ate everything and anything. At 30 pounds, he was a big one. Picky eating was the topic of the day and boy did I have a lot of bravado for one whose child could not lift their head. I railed against mothers who sliced off crusts, made three different dinners and allowed their child fruit in lieu of vegetables. I would never be that mother.
One year later? I may just be.
Here's why: I have got myself one of those picky kids. Actually, I think it is less that she is picky and more that she is anorexic. She refuses any and all food. What little she does eat is shared almost 50/50 with the dog. We now have to calculate for her habit of saying, "a bite for him, a bite for me..."
It absolutely, unequivocally, undoubtedly sucks to have this kind of eater. My daughter is such a lightweight (19.5 pounds at 13.5 months) that I am terrified each time she skips a meal. And while our pediatrician assures me that parents of toddlers need to rethink in terms of "weekly meals" rather than daily ones, I now understand those parents like Jessica Seinfeld or the countless others who have hidden tofu in milkshakes or ground broccoli into lasagna. It is damn scary when your kids don't eat.
The thing is, I have zero experience with this. My sister and I had "hearty appetites" according to everyone from our Italian, big cooking Nana to our happy babysitters. We liked to chow down--on everything. My mother was always on some new kind of diet, so as a kid, I loved tofu, brown rice, seaweed and broccoli all with equal passion.
It is not that Sam is picky. She actually likes Tabasco, people. It is just that she dislikes most veggies (except broccoli) and her tastes change day to day. Nope, not picky at all.
Pirate's Booty is the bee's knees one day and the next? It is rat poison. One day she is fiending for graham cracker, the next? It as if she has never seen and "why mom are you feeding me this pig slop?" Our grocery bill is an embarrassment. Last week I spent $166 on a variety of foods just because I never know what she will like day to day.
R and I stress each meal time to try to come up with something--anything!--that she will eat. Her favorite from the night before, the thing she mowed in five seconds, could be tossed, could be devoured. The suspense is better than Hitchcock and yet, I loved Hitchcock. I hate this. I really do. In the back of my mind, there is always the nagging fear that my child will starve to death. And so I foist brie, feta, jalapenos and other foods most decidedly un-baby in her direction. Surprisignly? She often loves them. For a day. The next? Who the hell knows.
How I would love to unlock the mysteries of my child's palate. It seems a greater mystery than the pyramids at Giza. As yet I refuse to puree a broccoli milkshake, but after that dinner last year where I lambasted picky eaters and the mommies that enable them, I know better than to speak in absolutes. Never say never.
Check back next year when I will share recipes for my chocolate cake made entirely of brussel sprouts.
***Update: Check out my latest shoe blog