Friday, April 11, 2008

Problems that never occurred to me

I have food issues. There are a lot of foods I don't like. I was a 'picky eater' when I was a kid, completely unwilling to try anything new. I was in my late 20's before I was willing to risk trying new foods or reconsider old rejected ones. Looking back from an adult perspective, part of this is my parents' fault. I was not encouraged to try new foods. Dad would occasionally offer me something but Mom's invariable reply was "Ew, don't give her that, she'll hate it." Dad was not so open in his food dislike, but I never once in my entire childhood saw a bowl of peas on the table, or carrots. We had canned green beans, canned corn, and frozen broccoli or cauliflower in cheese sauce. Other foods simply never appeared because my did didn't like them & he never suggested I try them.

We had decided from the beginning, given my issues, that we would always encourage the kids to try things. We would never say "ew" or "yuck" even if we thought it and we would never say "you won't like that." or "you don't like that". Only positive, happy thoughts about food.

This is fairly easy when you are dealing with new food or food only rarely encountered.  Especially in your own kitchen. You make the meal, offer it with encouragement to the child & if he doesn't want it, it's not too bad. There are 2 adults who will eat it or it can be made into something else as leftovers.  If you are at someone else's house, it is also easy. Encourage & if they don't like it, no biggie. The food won't be wasted. This is also true at restaurants with new foods. You can offer them bites of your own food, if they want to try something new off the menu you can try to direct them toward something you think they will like or that at least others will eat if they hate it.

The problem comes when you are dealing with something you know they don't like and they are insisting they want. You don't want to be negative but you don't want to spend the effort, the time or the money on something you know darn well will not be eaten. I hadn't taken this issue into account when I decided to never be negative. It hadn't occurred to me that my 4 year old, who hates pepperoni, would regularly insist on getting pepperoni pizza and then whine & complain that he doesn't like pepperoni & wants you to pick it all off, only all the cheese comes with it and you are left with a sauce covered crust that the child won't eat because he'll only eat bread with cheese on it. (I draw the line at then going and making or buying him a slice of cheese pizza. You asked for the food you have in front of you. Eat it or go hungry...or have an apple.)

I try to divert him to other things "How about cheese pizza?" and sometimes this works, but not always. "NO. I want pepperoni" he will insist. Some of the time there are no other options. The other day at the supermarket I was getting things for dinner at the deli & knowing that neither child would eat the stuffed pork I was buying, I told Mayhem he could pick out something from the sandwich case for him & his brother to have. They had meatloaf, macaroni & cheese, spaghetti, calzones & pizza on display. The boys will eat any of it. Except... Mayhem picked the pepperoni pizza and insisted he wanted the *pepperoni* pizza. The only other pizzas were Greek and meat lovers, not viable options for diversion. "How about meatloaf or mac & cheese?" I asked. "Pepperoni pizza." he insisted. <sigh> I did not want to pay $8 for something that was not going to get eaten. Something I knew, right then, standing there, was not going to get eaten. (Havoc doesn't like pepperoni either)  I didn't want to deal with this child when he realized, once again, that 'pepperoni pizza' means pizza that is not all cheese but in fact has pepperoni on it. I didn't want to deal an hour after that with the now hungry child who had refused his dinner and didn't want an apple but pizza. "But doesn't the mac & cheese look yummy?  Havoc would love the mac & cheese and you love it too" "I want pepperoni pizza mama!" "But you hate pepperoni!!!" I wanted to shout at him. "You hate it & you won't eat it. You think pepperoni is yuck."  but I didn't

I bought the pizza & before I baked it I pulled out all the pepperonis hidden under the cheese. Slight mistake there. "Pepperoni pizza is yummy Mama." he says at dinner time. "I wike pepperoni pizza."


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