April 6th, 2010

If It Isn’t Breaded, It Isn’t Edible

Angie McCullagh

I have myself a situation, here. It’s called, my-seven-year-old-resists-eating-anything-that-isn’t-a-Tootsie-Pop. If you’d told me when he was a chubby toddler that I’d be in this mess, I wouldn’t have believed you. He could put it away, after all. A veggie burger, banana, bowl of noodles and a half loaf of bread in one sitting.

That began to change, though, when he hit the threes and wanted more input into his diet. He refused any meat that wasn’t breaded to within an inch of its life. He preferred Fruit Leathers over fresh apples or mangoes. He insisted on more starch, less veggie. Of course, I could’ve put my foot down and held out until he ate what I thought he should. But I’m a compromiser. As long as he was consuming a little bit of each food group every day, I tried not to stress.

Now that Milo’s seven, however, he’s rejecting the tried and true chicken nuggets and fish sticks. He whines at whatever I lovingly set in front of him.

Enter Operation Make Your Own Darn Grub. Over spring break, his food fussiness reached fever pitch. There was literally nothing I could feed him he’d accept without three rounds of screeching and howling. I made the decision that he had to start preparing his own (somewhat balanced) meals. I would help with the hot oven and handle the sharp knives, but the rest was up to him.

And, you know what? I think it’s starting to work. Not only is he choosing what he wants to eat, but he’s starting to appreciate, in just the smallest of ways, how much blood, sweat and tears goes into food prep.

The other night he even offered to make dinner for the whole family. I probably should’ve acquiesced and happily munched the meatballs and applesauce he would’ve served, but instead we made enchiladas together. It was great! He felt useful. I enjoyed watching him fill the tortillas and roll them. And then, drumroll please, he ate one! Chicken, tomatoes and all.

Someday soon I’ll have him concocting beef bourgignon for his dad and I. Until then, though, Milo can microwave a mean plate of hot dogs. And I’m okay with that.

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Kids covered from head to toe in sticky sand? Reach in your diaper bag for the Baby Powder, give them a good shake-down (with the powder, that is) and “Poof!” they’ll be clean as a whistle (and smelling powder fresh to boot!)