Tuesday, September 20, 2011

I'm Not a Short Order Cook...I'm a MAMA!

I have picky eaters. Let's just get that out and said. In fact, we have two particularly picky four year olds...which is interesting to me, as they ate almost EVERYTHING when they were babies.

But now...well, they do not eat vegetables. At least, not unless they are french fried or pureed. Odd, I know, the pureed part, but I think it's a texture thing. Or a particularly stubborn, "Hey, don't change what I'm used to," thing. Not really sure. (Though I cannot stand the texture of pears, so I can totally understand that one...)

And so mealtime has been the constant source of an endless stream of frustration and headaches on my end, crying and frustration on their end.

"Come on, take a bite!!! Just one???"

While Heckyl can usually be conjoled into a bite or two, Jeckyl is another story altogether. He would hold an offensive bite in his mouth for a whole evening if you let him. And I don't. I can't stand it. I'm NOT going to do that to him or me, either one. I can't see as it would actually help anything. It certainly wouldn't make him more apt to try another bite, for that I am certain. I know him. I've met him. He is the stubbornest creature I've ever met...and that's saying a lot, as we're all pretty stubborn in this family.

But I've looked up lots of ideas on picky eaters...and am pretty appalled at what I've found.

Soooo many sites suggest just offering the kid the food, then not feeding them again until they eat it. "No kid will starve themself." But seriously??? I have to ask myself. Has it come to that? Really, starve your child until they bend to your will?? Really?

Now, I could see if we lived in an environment where we could not afford other foods or where things just plain weren't available. But in my home, that is not the case. Is it really such a big deal to give a kid a peanut butter and jelly (all fruit spread) sandwich when we have chili? When I was a kid, I didn't eat chili either. Especially when they eat it all, rather than cry and scream and wail over ONE bite of the chili??? Is that really better?

Offer it, sure. Make it available, sure. FORCE them to eat it, rather than starve??? I think not. Because I know how stubborn my child is, how stubborn his uncle and grandfather are, and I guarantee you that all three of them would go to bed hungry, tummy rumbling before they would eat something they hated. (Can't say I feel much different myself.) I know. My father actually did that a lot when he was younger, because he refused to eat certain things. And it NEVER made him want them. These parents who make their kids sit there, but who (the kids, that is) finally relent and eat it so they can have that cookie aren't REALLY picky kids. They're just being difficult. Or maybe they're mildly picky. I have the other extreme. There is no force on earth, save actual starvation, that would force my boys to eat a meal they didn't like.

And so I am done. Done with the arguing and the pleading and the bargaining and the forcing. There's no point. It does no good for anyone, doesn't solve anything and just makes us all fairly miserable at a time that should be a fun together family time. And so, I have decided that it doesn't hurt if my boys like pureed peas or squash. They feed themselves, eat it like applesauce. But they're still getting the NUTRITION. And then they can eat their grilled cheese or peanut butter and jelly or pizza or whatever. Does it really have to be that big a deal?

And I try to get creative. I like that book, The Sneaky Chef, though I don't make all the recipes. I like the IDEA of just putting veggies in stuff they already like. I used her white puree (zucchini and cauliflower) last night on their grilled cheese. I spread it over the bread, then toasted the bread, and they were none the wiser. And they like pizza. (I can put zucchini, cauliflower, broccoli, spinach, and peas all in that good ole' tomato sauce.) And it's not that I'm really trying too hard to HIDE it, just to prepare it in such a way that they LIKE it, and EAT IT readily. That's the main thing. By the way, we LOVE her Sneaky Chef Chili, the adults, that is. LOL And it's much better for me than the canned stuff!!!

All that to say, what's the big deal if my kids are picky? So am I. I don't eat mushrooms or onions, brussel sprouts or asparagus. Big deal. Neither does my daughter, though we both LOVE spinach and other good for us veggies. And my boys are healthy and strong with good appetites, even if they are a bit more finicky (okay, a LOT) than most kids. But so what? Aren't they healthy? Aren't they happy? Isn't THAT what matters, much more than the extra three minutes it will take me to whip up a sandwich or throw some chicken fingers in the oven? No, I'm not a short order cook, I'm a MAMA, and my kids are worth the extra effort.

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