My goal is to get my kids to eat nutritious food. In a world of edible filler, the chances of that happening can often be slim. We’re all busy and we all have things to do. Plus, they don’t want that anyway. They want pizza from Ellio’s – whoever that is – and Pirate Booty – whatever that is – on repeat. For a special treat, you can put Pirate Booty on the Ellio’s Pizza. That’ll blow their little minds. They’d be singing your praises for months.
I know. I know. I shouldn’t say that. Kids food is a touchy subject. There are moms on Facebook talking about GMOs and plastics and chemical dangers found deep within food labels. And I’m like, “Lady, I’m just trying to convince my kid that she can’t have bagels for three meals a day.”
Having time for all of that would be wonderful. In fact, I know that writing something like this brings the risk of angry replies about my poor parenting. But that’s fine. I can be feeding them much worse than I am, but that’s not saying much. No one applauds you for not serving your child paint thinner and Carpet Fresh, but given how difficult these food choices sometimes can be, maybe they should.
Making healthy food isn’t the problem. I don’t mind. In fact, I personally try to eat healthy food during those rare times that I remember to feed myself. Homemade oil-free pizza, rice and cheese wraps, salads with fresh avocados – I’m a regular Wolfgang Puck over here.
Yet, I feel like more of a hockey puck after spending an hour meticulously preparing a healthy Pad Thai from scratch only to be met with a turned-up sneer that says “failure” in a way that words never can.
I know what you’re thinking. Why do you ask them? Just feed it to them. Well, I don’t ask. Still, though, they offer their opinions.
When your son is non-verbal like mine, he can’t always articulate his wants in the moment, especially if his communication device is out of reach. Seeing me go into the freezer, he will come over, stand on his tippy toes, and peer over my shoulder. If he sees me holding a food item he likes, he will tap it twice with his fingers to signal his approval. I imagine a little voice saying, “Talley ho. Spledid job, my good man. That shall bring me sustenance. Chip, chip, churee!”
If it’s something he doesn’t like, he’ll twist his hand backwards and swat it away with an expression that says, “You’re dead to me.”
I want to explain that I’m the dad and that no one asked him what he wanted. I want to give lectures about the stuff I was forced to call meals as a child and how we don’t get to choose what we want to eat. But, alas, I’m tired. So I plop the Eggos in the toaster and everyone enjoys their morning.
My daughter can be even worse. Every parent has dealt with the same insanity-inducing scenario. Halfway through a plate of chicken and rice, she suddenly announces that she’s full. Then, in the same sentence, she asks for a cheese stick.
I thought you were full.
I’m full of chicken and rice.
My mind goes to some dark places in that moment. It’s the same dark places I go to when she screams that her tomato sauce is too tomato-y. You picture the headlines in the paper and the news broadcasters asking the question, “How can a father drown his own child in tomato sauce? News at 11.”
They bring home unpeeled bananas from lunch, reject your raisins, and throw out the Tupperware you put the cantaloupe in. Yet they eat the bag of Goldfish crackers in full – bag and all. It would be easy to stand my ground and insist that they ingest the healthiest of healthies. Sadly, that choice is not mine. I can suggest, present, and prepare. That’s about the extent of it.
So, I default to the things they like and then I feel guilty about it. If not, they’d stop eating altogether and then CPS comes knocking. That’s the irony of it all. Give your kid healthy food, but if they reject it and don’t eat anything, you go to jail. However, if you physically shove the food in their little mouths, you go to jail for that too. So, in the end, the kids hold all the cards.
Shhh. That’s the secret. Don’t let the children discover it. If they do, it’ll be the end of us all.