We are coming up on the biggest eating event of the year and if you have young kids, it’s possible your teeth are already pre-gritted. Pick eating: the bane of a foodie parent’s life. I don’t know why I get so red-faced when Child Harbat refuses almost all foods and eschews ones she formally liked, but it’s one of my top three most frustrating things about parenting. Perhaps it’s the capricousness of it. It’s not that she doesn’t like the taste or texture of certain foods, it’s just a power move, a mental gamne where she pre-judges things before they ever pass her lips. All those parenting magazines with cheery recommendations like, “It might take up to 15 attempts to get your kid to start enjoying a new food but just stick with it!!!!”, neglect to understand that this requires your child to actually taste the food. With Child Harbat she often won’t even make the attempt, or will put a microscopic amount on the very tip of her tongue then reel back with disgust, even if the item is something as SHOCKINGLY FLAVORFUL as polenta (cornmeal and water). A meal like that shown below would set off an hour-long drama featuring operatic gagging, protracted negotiations, stalling tactics, and ultimately tears.
We’ve tried coercion, we’ve tried ignoring it, we’ve tried expanding diet items, then limiting them. Sometimes I threaten, ala Bread and Jam for Francis, that she only gets her favorite food 3 meals a day. Yay! Who wants mac and cheese for breakfast! But nothing, nothing works. I can see that it’s an issue of control more than food sensitivity, which doesn’t make it any less infuriating. So far I see no solution except that she continues to restrict her diet more and more to the point where she’s got 3 menu items left. You think I’m kidding but this is a girl who rejected one brand of Greek yogurt over another. Now she doesn’t eat yogurt with honey AT ALL. Toast has been rejected for both having too much butter and not enough. Water tastes “old”, she wont’ drink orange juice, and milk is either too cold or too hot.
So what are we doing for Thanksgiving? My plan is to just chill out and let her eat whatever. But what will really happen is that she’ll gorge on rolls, run away from the table like a startled raccoon, then come screeching back in a half hour demanding pie. And a few more grey hairs will suddenly appear on my head. Stay calm, Babbo.