After writing a post for BabyCenter about my breastfeeding journey , I had to laugh because looking back over years of parenting, I can see one theme glaring back at me; I am obsessed with what my children eat.
From breastfeeding to solid baby food in jars (or yes, even homemade) to offering veggies and sneaking them into sauces, I have tried almost every trick in the book to make sure my kids are eating healthy. Well, I’d like to say I “make sure” but really it’s a lot of trial and mostly error, because they are kids who are growing up in America, the land of opportunity and far too many choices.
It’s easy to say, ‘well kids in this other country only ever eat rice! There are children your very same age who have never even tasted chocolate!‘ But what does that even mean to a five year old who has already been to countless birthday parties and celebrated National Donut day almost every year of his life? A child who laughs as he tells the story of the good old days like a weathered old man rocking in his chair on the front porch,
Hey, remember when I used to eat CHEESE? (hahaha) Remember when dada would stack it up and I ate it? (hahaha) Yeah too bad I don’t like cheese anymore.
Guys, isn’t that hilarious!?
As days passed and more and more items went the way of the cheese, I started to panic. I started reading and worrying and obsessing like I had when the breastfeeding was keeping me up at night. Meanwhile my little cherubs feast on Honey Nut Cheerios without a care in the world.
I know the tricks. I shop the perimeter of the grocery store stocking up on fruits I know they will eat and vegetables I hope they will try. I buy lower sugar cereal and natural applesauce and so what if I pretend veggie straws are healthy? At least I didn’t go full-on potato chip. I dutifully make them eat what we eat when I cook a family meal. Basically, I am either planning or preparing the next meal every waking hour of my life.
But for all my striving, it sure feels silly when I think of the rice-only no-chocolate kids. My kids are picky, but they do eat some healthy stuff. Why do I care if it’s the same thing over and over? Why am I putting my need for variety on little people who really just want grapes again? HOW CAN THEY WANT GRAPES AGAIN?
This year, I am joining the ranks of school lunch makers extraordinaire. Oscar is officially in Kindergarten and as of today I have exactly two meals in rotation that he will eat. Naturally, this means I’ve become obsessed with Pinterest again, not for the ridiculous (albeit adorable) bento box ideas, but for any ideas I can add to his very limited plate.
Tuesday, he threw out his chocolate milk after one sip. Yesterday, he took a bite of a carrot and tried some mystery dip with black dots that was yummy (I guessed ranch but he denied it). I feel like I am being punked while at the same time, embracing a new mission to add something unfamiliar to every lunch. Maybe if I am not there he will try it. Maybe not.
Must. Crack. Code.
I guess I answered my own question. I obsess about food because for now, I am the one who decides if it’s going to be lemonade or water, cookies or cucumbers. I am the one who has to offer the healthy options, not the schools or his friends or the books, me. So obsess I will, until it’s not my job anymore.
If you want to join me, check out my food boards on Pinterest. But y’all, don’t even make the Frozen themed lunches I pinned. I just added those because, really? Someone actually did that? I mean Pancake Sven maaaaybe, but that rice Olaf with beef grass would have a one-way ticket to nowhere in this house. And that just breaks my heart.
I’m still crying over the chocolate milk.
This isn’t over.