Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Mummy V Food

Isn’t it amazing the lengths parents will go to just to get their kids to eat? I have two crappy eaters. One of them has been a crappy eater since he was about a year old and the other one can’t really help it because, you know, reflux and stuff. But I realised today that I spend huge swathes of my time trying to persuade my kids to eat. Like, I’ve probably clocked up weeks – if not months – of time over the last two years trying to persuade small people to just eat.

It’s probably worth mentioning here that neither of my kids got teeth early. Or, actually, on time. Toddler Taylor cut his first tooth at ten months. Baby Taylor is coming up eleven months old now and he still has no teeth. He doesn’t even have the suggestion of teeth. So whenever I talk about my crappy eaters with other mothers and I hear “ooooh, have you tried baby-led weaning?” I want to fucking scream my head off. Or just scream “FUCK OFF!” if we’re being completely honest. Because I can’t let my baby lead the weaning process when he has NO FUCKING TEETH. That’s not really how it works. BUT I have tried pretty much everything else.

“Keep offering the same foods X amount of times to give your child a chance to develop a taste for them.” Yup. Done that. But, you know, there’s only so many times I can wash mushed up spinach out of my hair before I reach the conclusion that my kids just don’t fucking like spinach. I don’t blame them; I didn’t have much affection for spinach before I was in my 20’s and went vegetarian.

“Try adding milk to your baby’s food for a familiar flavour and gradually reduce the amount until you don’t add any milk at all.” I had limited success using this technique with Toddler Taylor, and adding milk to vegetables just seems gross. With Baby Taylor? Well, he’s on PurAmino formula, and as formulas go... I’ll be blunt here; PurAmino tastes like ass. I don’t know how he actually brings himself to drink it, because the few times I’ve tasted it have left me traumatised by the fact that anything supposedly edible could taste that bad. So adding it to his food seems like something that would just ruin the whole concept of food for him forever.

We could go on. There are a plethora of “expert” techniques out there, and I have tried most of them. I love experts... Do any of them have kids? Sometimes I wonder. Anyway, watching me actually trying to get my kids to eat can be a little like watching a poorly scripted sitcom. With Toddler Taylor, it goes like this:

“I’m a giant, mummy!”
“That’s awesome, baby. I made you broccoli pasta.”
“I don’t like broccoli, mummy.”
“I thought you were a giant? Eat your tiny trees.”

With Baby Taylor, I sing, pull faces, tap out a beat on his tray with one had while I wield a spoon with the other. Basically, anything to get him to open his mouth for long enough so I can shovel another spoon in. My husband finds it all completely ridiculous, but at least it usually works. If I'm trying to persuade him to finish his bottle of disgusting milk, it's like "You know what? If ripping out a chunk of my hair helps you focus on your milk then fine; keep yanking on it. It'll grow back." No kidding here; there's not much I won't put up with to get him to just drink his damned milk three times a day.

Here’s the thing though: Why do I worry about this so much? Seriously. Is it likely that either of my kids are going to starve to death if they don’t eat their broccoli pasta or mushed up orange stuff? No. Are picky children rare? No. Will my children always be picky? Probably not. I mean, if they end up being vegetarians someday like their father and me (which I actually kind of hope they will), they’ll probably eat pretty much anything that wasn’t previously sentient like we do. But right now I just dread mealtimes, and I find myself hoping it won’t always be like that. I hope that maybe one day we will all sit around the table together and I won’t have to keep reminding my kids to eat and refusing them dessert when they don’t. Because it always makes me feel so sad when I have to tell Toddler Taylor that he can’t have his favourite yoghurt because he didn’t eat his pasta/veggies/fish fingers. I really try not to make mealtimes a battleground because I know that doesn’t help, but I just fucking want my kids to eat so I can have one less thing to wake up in the middle of the night and worry about.

By all accounts, I was a picky eater as a child. Actually, I was quite picky for a long time. Long after I grew up and moved out, in fact. I used to drive my mother crazy with it. But did it have any detrimental effect on my health? No. I’m short, but I had short parents and was therefore predisposed to be short anyway. Otherwise I’m pretty healthy and I now try new foods all the time. It’s not something that I’m still struggling with and I’m sure the same will be true for my children. I think probably it’s my attitude that needs to change. Like, I can probably trust my kids not to starve themselves and me being neurotic about getting them to eat is just going to make them feel like eating is something to be neurotic about.

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