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Do you have a picky eater? I get it. And I don’t blame you!
This article in Vogue about having picky eaters—and being shamed for it—really resonated with me. Especially since at this very moment, I’m on a college visit with my oldest, my picky eater. I hope the dining hall has a good supply of plain pasta and peanut butter sandwiches.
The gist of the article is this: a new mom proclaimed, in that way only a new mom can, that her child would never order off of the dreaded kids’ menu. And the internet responded with experience and snarky mirth. “Get ready to join the buttered noodle club, Karen.”
It’s not just that this new mom was tempting fate. It’s that no matter your situation, you really don’t know what’s going to happen when you start feeding your kid solids. I’m definitely not a foodie, and I had no desire for my kids to eat exotic foods. I was a picky kid myself! So when my son started eating anything and everything, I was stoked! This parenting thing was easy.
Until he stopped. He was three, and suddenly he was eating only two or three foods, and there was nothing I could do about it. And that was that. (Well, that wasn’t that, because what our son ate became the subject of every argument my husband and I had for about five years, but that’s another story.)
I didn’t feel like a failure, but I did wonder if I could have done something different. I knew firsthand how hard it was to grow up as a picky eater, and I didn’t want to repeat whatever mistakes I’d made when our daughter came along.
Turns out, there was nothing I could do there either! She came out of the womb not wanting to eat or drink anything that wasn’t directly from my boob. If I went out and left her with a sitter, I would let them know where the pumped breastmilk was, and also tell them that she wasn’t going to drink it. If it wasn’t directly from me, she would just scream, but they were welcome to try. Sorry, we’ll tip you extra. Here are some earplugs.
When she started solids it was just as tough. She didn’t like anything.
Until she did! It was like a switch had been flipped (right around the age our son’s switch had been flipped the other way), and suddenly she was eating everything. Vegetables, fruit, all kinds of cheese, steak, hot dogs, burgers, smoothies…everything. I remember a neighbor offered her some oysters when she was three and she loved them!
And now they’re both teenagers, and he’s still picky, and she still eats just about anything. And they both grew up in the same house, with the same parents, being offered the same foods. So while I don’t take any credit for her eating habits, I also refuse to take the blame for his.
Remember that the next time you see a mom feeding her kids yogurt or French fries or Goldfish. Maybe the kid will be having pho for dinner, but maybe he’ll be having more Goldfish, and maybe his mom will just be happy that he’s eating anything.
If you liked the Vogue article, check out its author, Michelle Ruiz, on my podcast, talking about what happens when your kids ask you not to put their pictures online.