Picky Eating is Driving Me Insane

The child’s picky eating is driving me insane. In fact, it is the least favorite of all developmental milestones. I’m quickly going insane. I spend dinner every night rolling an Albert Einstein quote over and over in my head.

Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

And the definition for consistency:

steadfast adherence to the same principles, course, form, etc.

Well, hell. By that logic, I can hold my consistency responsible for my insanity.

Elliot versus Food. Every meal. Well, every meal except breakfast–the kid will chow down on a bowl of plain oatmeal. His food strike begins with lunch and escalates through dinner. Our meal-time rules are simple: they must take a “thank you bite” of everything on their plate before getting milk. No one has to clear their plate, or even finish it if they don’t like what is being served. However, there will be no food substitutions.

All of this worked beautifully with Zach, my blissfully compliant child. Perhaps he fought it for a full week, then on specific days here and there. But when he saw we weren’t going to capitulate, he eventually caved.

Elliot tries to call my bluff every single day; on every point with which I have taken a deliberate stand (I have no idea from whom he inherited that behavior).

Hungry, mommy
Then eat the food on your plate
Nope.

Rinse. Repeat.

I’ve patted myself on the back for years for not making idle threats to my children–but then I gave birth to this second kid–unrepentant in his non-compliance. Beyond being annoying and frustrating for me, it is also becoming increasingly difficult to not burst out laughing. Being told “nope” by such a little kid is just funny–something about the tone of voice. Definitely the expression on his face, which is the 22 month old’s version of the “fuck you face”.

This is the extent of what Elliot ate yesterday:

  • Breakfast

1 cup of cooked oatmeal, with a small sippy of milk.

  • AM Snack

1/2 cup of goldfish crackers, with a few tablespoons of raisins, with water.

  • Lunch

1 cup of applesauce, 1/2 cup of milk

  • Afternoon Snack

Pedialyte popsicle (no, he isn’t sick–they asked for popsicles and that’s what was frozen)

  • Dinner

3 bites of elbow macaroni (which he will eat raw by the handful when we aren’t paying attention to what he’s doing in the cabinet).

That was it, for the whole day. He threw lunch on the table and yelled, “All done” after eating the applesauce. He licked one of the meatballs, made healthy with hidden bits of sweet potato and ground flax seed, and threw it to the floor yelling, “LIKE IT” (translation: I don’t like this, and it is quite possibly the nastiest shit you’ve given me to date).

Next, the loud “CUP, PLEASE” and I said (as I do every night) “not until you take a thank you bite of salad.”

Commence screaming, crying, tantrums, and long, unblinking stares as he waits for me to cave in to his demands. Of course I don’t cave; even as I worry that his muscles are surely wasting away, that neurons will never fire for lack of nutrition, and that his growth will be permanently stunted.

Or I worry, more important to the longterm, that if I give in to him now we will fight this battle for the remainder of the time I cook his meals.

Even realizing that there are thousands of parents banging their heads against the same dinner table doesn’t make me feel better. That we have trekked down this road in recent past–for the longest time the only vegetable Zach ate was ketchup–and survived unscathed doesn’t make this any less frustrating.

Now, I do feel better because Zach, the one who turns everything into a competition in the hopes of being declared the winner, eats dinner without any prodding from me. Or he at least takes the requisite thank you bite first.

My mind says that this too shall pass providing I don’t make a major case about it right now. I wish my mind would speak up and stop me when I’m trying to pry Elliot’s mouth open wide enough to fit a 1-inch square of romaine lettuce.

3 thoughts on “Picky Eating is Driving Me Insane

  1. Glad to see I’m not the only one with these issues. I’m going to try the thank you bite. Love Brittany’s “Duct Tape is not abuse if it’s colored. Then it’s considered Arts & Crafts”!

  2. I know it doesn’t make you feel better, but BTDT. As you know =)
    I’d like to say it will get better, but I still don’t see the light at the end of the tunnel with Ashe yet. Yes, we are STILL dealing with food issues here. I’m hopeful an end is nearby, but I have decided to stop holding my breath in the meantime. Otherwise I’d have passed on by now. Hang in there. One trick I use to help diffuse my frustration is to mentally quote to myself “Duct Tape is not abuse if it’s colored. Then it’s considered Arts & Crafts”. That and I down a glass of wine as soon as I can escape the dinner table 😉

  3. “I can hold my consistency responsible for my insanity”

    So THAT’S my problem. Thank you for identifying it so concisely.

    Every single vegetable that JR use to eat (peas, carrots, beans, tomatoes, etc. etc.) are now classified by her as ‘Too yucky’. God forbid I try to hide one in something. She can’t see a toy on the floor in front of her, but she can find a kernel of corn ANYWHERE. I know I’ve got it lucky, there are plenty of other things she’ll eat.

    E is your willful one – he likes things HIS way. I’m sure he’s very peeved that you aren’t making him hand-dipped chocolates for dinner. And I’m pretty sure you’re going to have excitement over plenty of other things than eating with that one. Good luck with all that.

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