Friday, January 7, 2011

Whoooo's Eating Today?

If there's one thing that drives me nuts about my kids (oh, if only there was just one thing!) it's their eating habits. Calling them picky eaters isn't quite fair to the countless true picky eaters who are loyal to their chicken nuggets and mac 'n' cheese. A more appropriate name would be inconsistent eaters. One day pizza is their favorite food in the world; the next week it repulses them. I am about as qualified to predict what they'll eat as what the weather will be or the future "must have" Christmas toys.

For the most part, as much as it pains me, I've learned to stop focusing on their eating habits. To stop working hard at feeding them well. To stop encouraging them or praising them or rewarding them about what they eat. What I do most days is put healthy food in front of them and then wash their plates when they're done. I simply can no longer tolerate the stress and anxiety that used to accompany every meal and snack time when I invested so much of myself in trying to develop healthy eaters.

Nonetheless, I am human. Every once in a while I relapse into past desires of having kids who eat well. On occasion I still make the mistake of asking them what they'd like for dinner, or speaking the words, "Here, try this." And on some days, like today, I might, in a moment of weakness, go ahead and make a fancy presentation of their food.

Of the hundred or so relapses I've had over the past four years, I would say maybe twenty have not ended with me seeking rehab. Today, I am proud to say was one such time.

The tofu owls were well received. Vance "whoooed" throughout his entire meal. Fifi narrated the gentle deconstruction of her winged friend. At the end of the meal, I merely rinsed some tofu crumbs before putting the plates in the dishwasher.

Arrogantly, I began to envision what other food creatures could be created with sliced-olive eyes. But before I could go too far down the path of self-destruction Fifi brought me back to reality with her reliable statement, "I will not drink my milk."

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