I'll make this quick. Because who knows when I'll be back in here (hopefully soon, but I've learned to make no promises).
I started writing this blog mostly because I need to WRITE, and this is a handy outlet. But the other very big reason for writing is to commiserate with others on the simple fact that the job of raising kids, feeding their minds and their bodies, is impossibly difficult. In fact, more often than not, I feel like I'm groping around in the darkness for the "right" answer to whatever child-raising dilemma I find myself in.
The good news is that, more often than not, the answers I finally do settle on seem not to have scarred my children in any horrific or noticeable way. In fact, they seem rather happy most of the time. And they tell me and show me they love me without much prompting.
When I started this blog, I was the proud mama of a preschooler (Jules) and a baby (Kasper). Jules was high energy and intense, curious, and a hair-rippingly super picky eater. Kasper was the polar opposite of his brother: mellow, happy, eater-of-everything. Nature, nurture, and perhaps some wicked spells cast on myself and my children by no-doubt-childless people changed some of that for us. Jules is still intense and active, but at 7 1/2 will try almost any food, even the spicy stuff, eats a HUGE array of foods, and is even concerned with nutritional value. Kasper, now 4 3/4, is a bundle of stubborn energy, and has made a mission out of redefining my idea of what super picky is. He eats not a single vegetable (unless you count black beans in a burrito) save for the ones I hide in his smoothie, has only recently been able to eat cheese that is not melted on pasta or pizza, refuses to eat more than one type of food at a time, is visibly distressed by having two foods share the same plate, you get the idea.
Before you all jump into the comments section to give me advice (yeah, I assume a couple of people might read this), I can tell you right now that I've tried:
1. Putting vegetables (or whatever else I want him to try) on his plate at every meal, leaving it up to him to decide what he eats.
2. Not giving him an alternate meal. The "this is what's for dinner" approach.
3. Presenting vegetables (or whatever else) in novel and/or cute ways.
4. Putting him in peer-influenced situations, so he can get cues from other kids who are "better eaters" than he is on what's OK to try.
5. Insisting that he must eat what's on his plate before he can have more of anything else.
6. Cajoling. From the mild ("just lick the broccoli and then you can have more pasta") to severe ("no dessert, then!" -- ok, it's Papa who resorts to this one, actually, without my blessing).
7. Throwing up my hands and deciding he's too damn stubborn to deal with, that time will sort things out for me so long as I don't feed him a steady diet of sugar all day long.
Most days, I employ strategies 1 and 7. And it's works for me, since I know things worked out for Jules and will most likely work out for Kasper, too. But when I'm in the room with a "good eater," particularly one that is younger or the same age as my kid, those little creeping doubts enter in. I feel embarrassed, sad, annoyed, impatient with myself and my kid.
I hate that urge to compare my kids with others. Learning new things to try or new perspectives to adopt from other parents and kids, I love that. But comparing gets me nowhere except depressed. And it's a fine line between the two.
Wow, I've gone and written more than I planned. Go figure.