Fussy eating! It’s absolutely a wonder that I have any hair left; I seem to tear it out on a daily basis, because of my eldest daughter, “L” and her particular rules about eating. I have had numerous ‘heated debates’ with my Mother about how far to push; I’ve been told that I should “just let it go and relax” when L has refused to eat something.
Her refusal could be for a vast variety of reasons; She can see onions in it; she doesn’t like the texture; it’s touching something else on the plate; it looks like its got “green bits” in it (by green bits, she means herbs); she doesn’t like big chunks; she doesn’t eat ham; hates mashed potato unless its got tonnes of cheese in it: I could go on and on, but it really is a looooong list.
I have two younger children, “T” (three and a half) and “G” (eighteen months old); both of whom seem to have eat and enjoy eating whatever I give them. Naturally, there are days when they don’t want what the Chef has dished up, but they wouldn’t be normal if that didn’t happen.
Rewind 8 years and 8 months ago; L was 4 months old and I had to return to work. A decision which I had no choice but to make. I was not in the wonderful position I am now, where I can raise my children myself. I had to send L to a day nursery. She was there from 8am until 6pm, Monday to Friday. Is that a gasp I hear? Yes I realise, now, that was an immensely large amount of time to spend away from my first born……but needs must I’m afraid.
L would have her breakfast, lunch and dinner, in fact all her weekday meals at the nursery. So is it any wonder that she is a fussy eater? I am not blaming the nursery – well not completely anyway. I am simply saying that I had no control and no input into what she was given to eat. I am sure the food she was given was nutritious, healthy, tasty, cooked in bulk, easy to cook, easy to clear away. But I don’t suppose for one moment she would have been given a helping of home-made lasagne, toad-in-the-hole, tuna pasta bake, braised beef, or anything else that I cook. (I do cook other things by the way – I’m not limited to just those things.)
So does this mean I have failed as a mother to my first born? Have I, unintentionally, damaged her psyche with regard to food?
Nowadays, I am so much more relaxed with her and her funny ways, and it helps that I have two younger children who almost inhale their food, regardless of what it is. It shows L that actually what is on the plate is edible and sometimes quite yummy too.
I do still have to ‘entertain’ certain aspects of her ways, just for a peaceful meal without the stress and arguing. For example, if I serve up one of my childhood favourites, baked beans on toast – L will have the beans in a separate bowl and the toast on a different plate. Or Roast dinner – you will not see her pick a roast potato or have gravy. Her plate will consist of a large portion of meat (she generally ends up leaving), carrots, and other vegetables – not swede though! Fish fingers – she will pull the batter off. She will only eat “thin chips”.
Mostly nowadays though she simply gets bored of sitting at the table with her siblings and eating her dinner. (I insist upon this for every meal and feel very strongly that eating together at the table is an important element for a family. It encourages and puts into practice good table manners, talking, sharing, communicating, spending time together, spending time away from the television, dvd player, Wii, laptop, Nintendo Ds.) So in effort to hide her boredom of the act of eating, she will claim she is full and attempt to leave the food in front of her. OR what she has started to do very recently, is to put her food on the floor under the table and state “I’m finished”. Now why she thinks she can get away with that is completely beyond me. Firstly, I was a child once – I remember the tricks. Secondly, I can see under the table – I am not stupid or blind. Thirdly, for L to have a completely clear plate and so quickly is something which only ever happens once in a blue moon – again I am not stupid or blind.
However, after all is said and done and typed and spellchecked, and drafted and then published, I suppose what is important is that she goes to bed with food in her tummy, and that she is actually eating and not starving herself. Isn’t it?
So, what is on the menu for tonight then I wonder?