Monday, December 15, 2008

McMommy



It is with great chagrin that I realize how many things I do as a parent that I SWORE I'd never do. It's so disappointing to realize that all the parents you looked down on before you had kids you now realize actually had sane, rational reasons for doing what they did with their kids while you stood back and passed judgement (or at least made plans for how much better a parent YOU would be).

One of the things I SWORE I'd never do is raise my kids on kid food. I did not want a bunch of picky eaters on my hands who would only eat five foods: tacos, pizza, chicken nuggets, hot dogs, and macaroni and cheese. And guess what? My kids don't eat those five foods. They only eat four of them! Tacos are way too exotic; they just put up their noses at the site of corn tortillas with several DIFFERENT ingredients on them.

How did this happen? How did my well-laid plans of spinach- and seafood- and casserole-loving kids go awry?

I blame it on Gerber. When your first toddler starts eating solids, Gerber commercials suddenly seem to be on all the time. And they advertise all these cute, tiny, little pre-packaged foods that are easy to open, easy to shovel in, and easy to not choke on. And the time factor of solid food, you quickly realize, is crucial. Because your very young toddler will only wait 9.6 seconds from the time she realizes she's hungry until she is screaming bloody murder. So you get suckered into the concept of speedy, pre-prepared meals at your finger tips. Then as your child grows, you continue to seek out these easy, quick foods like frozen chicken nuggets, frozen mini pizzas, frozen taquitos, and the EZ Mac that takes an eternal THREE MINUTES to cook. And soon your first baby is 3 and 1/2 years old and you realize she won't even glance at a nice steak, a beautiful meatloaf, chicken enchiladas from heaven, or your favorite pasta carbonera. She regards vegetables (even cute little square ones like frozen carrots) as devil-food. Not devils food, which might be encouraging, but DEVIL food, as in from HELL.

So now I'm trying to undo the mess that I have made. I'm trying to catch my younger toddler, now 2 years old, while he'll still try some stir fry from my bowl or ask for a bite of my Indian food and tell him how delicious they are. Sometimes, to get him to try new foods, I tell him they are made out of sugar and candy or some kind of cake. Anything white and creamy is called "ice cream" for his benefit. And once we find a food he likes, like chicken or hot dogs, all meats then become some form these including turkey, steak, ham, pork, and oysters. Just kidding. I haven't fed him oysters. Yet.

And I'm trying all kinds of trickery, bribery, and clownery to get my older toddler to try bites of whatever's for dinner. At times I even resort to actual PARENTING to get her to eat these things (as in "Eat that because I'm the mom and I said so! And no dessert unless you do! And you might be grounded if you don't! I'll explain grounding later...just eat it!) And guess what....it's working. The real key, I think, is the starvation factor. The idea that if I don't give them McNuggets for dinner, they can't eat McNuggets; They have to actually eat what I cooked. Brilliant, isn't it? I know. I came up with that all on my own after months of pondering this issue. Daphne is a regular Gandhi. She can go for four or five days without eating if she believes what I have put in front of her might contain poison (i.e. nutrition). Beck is usually more flexible. Or more easily tricked. If he sees Daddy and Mommy eating it and making very loud "Mmmmmm!" sounds, he will usually get suckered in. But I'm determined from now on that there will be one shift at dinner, not two. One main dish, not a main dish for the grown ups with several frozen McSideDishes for the kids. I can picture it now--the whole family eating together... There will be REAL FOOD. There will be vegetables! And sauces! And things from the ocean! And maybe, if they're really lucky, there will be some actual FLAVOR in their meals too! But I'm getting ahead of myself now. Baby steps, Arianne. Baby steps.

16 comments:

K and/or K said...

So now I have learned to make 4 course meals from day 1 when I have kids! Yikes, this is goign to be a lot of work! :-)

devri said...

Yes, baby steps.. that is all you can do without going crazy!!

rychelle said...

yeah, my mom had two options for dinner. take it or leave it.

i really hope you'll come to breakfast on the 30th! please say you will. ;)

Melissa said...

Did you just descibe my meal times when my boys were little? I had one that would ONLY eat rice, or cold cereal. Until he was like 6. Made school difficult.
But rest assured, cute girl, they do eventually grow out of it. And, we got to the point, if they wanted something different for dinner, they cooked it themselves. Even as young as 7. My 17 year old is now looking into culinary school. For reals! It all works out......

Christie said...

I actually think that is a very valid point about Gerber. My kids got very little processed baby food. I thought is was absolutely disgusting, and couldn't figure out how a baby could possibly like that stuff. For the most part, my kids at normal food that I smooshed up/etc for them to be able to eat. And they really do like grownup foods for the most part - especially Bryn who chose salad over fries as her side the other day at a restaurtant. Of course, they still like nuggets/pizza/etc too, but they won't starve if they have to eat the same as me. Fun post!

jennie w. said...

Everything was going fine for me until they went on the two-year-olds hunger strike, where they don't eat a decent meal for about three years.

MiaKatia said...

I am at the same place with my kids. I am ok with them not eating dinner. I won't make them something special just because they don't like what I have made and they are both to the point that they will at least try a bite or two.

Chelsea said...

I think you're totally right that kids will eat what you give them (eventually!) I think some of it is genetic, or their personality, or whatever. Sawyer has always loved ethnic foods, the spicier the better. But he gags if we try to get him to eat lettuce or broccoli. I did get him to eat green beans the other night - he called them "green fries." Works for me! :D

CaraDee said...

I'm all about the "take it or leave it". They will always end up taking it. And the pediatrician will always say, "They'll eat when they're hungry." Don't give up.

Pasifik said...

My wife and I have been married for 2,5 years and have no children yet. I think we have to prepare first to be a good parent for our coming children by learning from parents.

Happy blogging,

Toddler Activity

Christie said...

Hehe - I just notieced a beer in the food pyramid. Is that for you?

Sara said...

I'm totally laughing inside, cause before we have kids, we all go out in public and swear we will never let our own children do that. And then when you do have kids, there is this moment of realization that, oh I'm doing it, and you see all those single women staring at you, like your awful.

erica said...

haha! I enjoyed this post alot!

André said...

I need to send Mason to your house so you can get him to eat something outside of his five usuals.

André said...

Christie - I think it's a cream soda, not a beer. I had one just like that last night. Ask Jen!

Holly said...

I got really lucky with Landon. He loves veggies. Infact, he will eat his veggies before anything else. He LOVES salad, and celery and ranch. I blame gerber for that too. He was on so many fresh veggies as a baby that he grew to really like them.

Try Fish Sticks. Kids think they are chicken nuggets, and now landon Loves fish. I buy the frozen ( microwavable) Tilapia from costco, and me and Landon share one for lunch. YUM.

Make sure they see you eating it. We used to make a big deal out of taking something like stuffing, and eating it on the couch. If Landon saw us eating it on the couch he always wanted to have some.

Good luck! we are still on kids foods too though. Chicken nuggets are a staple.