Let’s start with the punchline and work backwards.
Oh look! I see someone’s healthy spaghetti dinner in the trash! My wife made spaghetti with grilled eggplant and spinach last night and, expecting some pushback from Child Harbat, spaghetti and meatballs with tomato sauce for the littlest diner. Don’t most children like spaghetti? When CH eats macaroni and cheese does she understand that pasta is pasta? Hold on…let me take a breath. This is the way I get at almost every dinnertime battle. I’ve written here many times about the joys of handmade food. I’ve involved CH in mealtime preparations thinking she’ll be more interested in trying new food. We’ve given her a smorgasbord of options that would surely, surely, introduce her to one food that she would eat. [sigh]
Let me tell you how long we cajoled, pleaded, and demanded that a single forkful of spaghetti be eaten last night: 20 minutes. There was something wrong with the texture. I get it—kids are very sensitive to textures in foods. Her meatball got a little crispy.
“But you eat crispy crackers!” I said.
“No. I don’t like it.”
“One piece of spaghetti.”
Imagine this night after night, and yet she’ll wolf down bread, crackers, yogurt, cheese. Basically anything with a minimum of color. On pizza she can find a fleck of fresh basil the size of a pinhead that’s buried under a layer of cheese. Have we tried making smoothies and “hiding” vegetables in there? Yes. Have we put toothpicks in veggies and provided dipping sauce? Have we arranged the healthy foods on a plate? All options fail under the intense dinnertime scrutiny of Child Harbat. She could work as a drug sniffer at airport security.
Every night the same frustration. Last night I did a small presentation on the word “picky” by sorting through every cherry in the bowl and finding fault: too round, stem is too long, stem is too short, this one has a dent, that one is too…something…and I don’t like it. Did my presentation make an impression?