What do you do when your child refuses to eat or is a picky eater?

Eat your veggies!!!! Image borrowed from: http://www.foodonthetable.com/

One thing that I have always been proud of as a parent, is that my kids are not picky eaters. They have always eaten their veggies, didn’t consume much sugar, and just had a well rounded diet. They ate consistently, ate well, and was always open to new foods.

That has all changed in the past 3 weeks. I have a 6 year old and a 21 month old. And both kids have decided that all the food they eat just doesn’t taste good. My 21 month old, I get it, he is testing his limits on what mommy will give him. He is playing with his food. You gave him bread and butter once and now he has decided that he won’t eat unless you only give him bread and butter for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Whatever…. with him, I just need to figure out how to incorporate vegetables back into his mouth and I will be satisfied as a mom. Does marinara sauce count as a veggie? In my house it does.

But my daughter is a different story. She has decided that she is a little princess and your job is to wait on her hand and foot. And if she doesn’t want what you give her to eat, she will fuck with your head and return the meal back to the kitchen, asking for something else to eat. And it is all my fault. I take full responsibility for this behavior. Now I have to figure out how to reprogram her.

You see, summer is here. And summer camp now has begun. She is expending lots of energy. According to her, an applesauce cup is enough for breakfast. A bag of fish crackers is enough for lunch. And some oranges and a string cheese is enough for dinner.

“The sandwich doesn’t have honey on it. The sandwich doesn’t have the right bread. The sandwich doesn’t have enough honey on it. The cheese wasn’t cold. The apple was yucky. I don’t like bananas now….”

This is the same girl who will down a chicken tostada at the end of the day when we treat to take out.

So after about 3 weeks of this going on, I lost it this morning. After 3 weeks of me tending to her every need by allowing her to return the food and giving her a different option, (since I am paranoid that she will die of starvation), allowing her to eat one bite and return it, I went totally bonkers and freaked out (check out that run on sentence).

It all started with instant oatmeal…. 3 mornings a week, we rush out of the house each morning with a car full of bags, laptops, lunches, backpacks, etc. We struggle to get hair and teeth brushed, beds made, get dressed, and attempt to not leave the house as if a complete tornado had just flown in. And 3 mornings a week, I have no time to put up with kids not eating breakfast or at least taking breakfast with them in the car.

Ok so the oatmeal. Rushing around this morning, mistakenly allowing the TV to be on before she had started her morning routine, she asked for oatmeal. I think to myself, Great, she wants oatmeal. That will be a great meal to last with her until lunch time while she is at summer camp playing hard. I prepare the oatmeal. I put yummy butter and milk in it. I bring it to her on the couch with a towel and a smile. She ate one bite and said, “it is yucky, I want something else”.

“Are you (fucking) kidding me, girlfriend! There are people starving in poverty that have no food. I don’t have time to make you a different meal. Why don’t I just go into your piggy bank and take a dollar out and throw it in the trash. That is what you just did by refusing to eat the oatmeal. ” (of course I communicated my frustration with throwing the f-bomb at her)

And that, my fellow mommies, is the moment of clarity for me. The moment where I realized that I was the asshole in this situation. The moment the clouds parted in sky and the light shinned directly in my eye. Then I told her, she can go in the kitchen and find herself something to eat, cause I am done.

The rest of the day, as I sat at work pretending to do my job, all I could think about was how I was going to communicate to her with this massive discussion about how she needed to eat the food that is given to her, or she will go hungry. How she will be offered food and if she refuses it and it goes in the trash, it is her loss. That I will not be her short order cook anymore. That I am disappointed that she would waste food because we should be so lucky that we have food in the first place. How it takes work to prepare a meal and it should be appreciated. I was basically going to make a big huge stink about it.

But there was no huge talk. In the end, I decided to take it meal by meal. And basically gently remind her that if she didn’t eat the food provided to her, she would not eat, and that is really too bad. I am also thinking of having her start making her own meals, help with dinner, and basically start having her learn what it takes to prepare a meal. I am not going to get mad anymore. It really just goes in one ear and out the other. But I am going to give her the freedom to learn on her own what it means to be hungry if she chooses to not eat the food that is given to her.

I really think, for whatever reason, she decided she would going to try out this power struggle with me. I believe it really it has nothing to do with food itself, but more about testing the limits. It took me 3 weeks to catch on, but I am hoping that we see a turn of events.

Now getting my toddler to eat his veggies…..

*Disclaimer…. I am living off of 5 hours of sleep and a full work day, please taking 2 hours to get the toddler to go to sleep. Pardon the miss-spelling or grammar issues.