Kids and Food: Where Nature Went Wrong

Free will can be a wonderful thing. As humans, we are the only species on the planet that exercises this ability with great abandon. Unfortunately for us, this can also be to our detriment. Not all of the choices we make are good ones or even compatible with our own survival. This point is driven home quite enthusiastically by our offspring on a regular basis.

Take, for example, food.

Just once I’d like to see Animal Planet feature a program about animal mothers having to go out and and kill or forage for something else because their babies wouldn’t eat what they brought the first time.  Seriously, I can see it now: “Watch as the lioness visibly sighs, then heads off, again, to hunt something her cubs will eat this time.” Hey, you never know, maybe gazelle is way tastier than wildebeest…

As satisfying and amusing as it would be, we’ll never see this. All other living things on the planet understand that to survive, they must eat. Their young understand that they must eat what is brought to them. Period. Human offspring are too busy playing around with the ability to think for themselves to understand this. My kids are no exception. In fact, even though the dinner table often looks like it’s been swarmed by animals and my mother lovingly refers to Josh’s place as “the trough”, the survival instincts just aren’t there.

The great irony of this is that while their instincts are somewhat lacking, mine are completely intact - the need to feed my babies and have them eat is strong. As a result, we end up with the all too familiar restaurant scenario, where I am not only waitress but also the chef and the busboy. The kids are the customers and as far as they are concerned, they are ALWAYS right. The situation at Chez Moi is further complicated by my older son’s long list of food allergies and my younger son’s autistic issues - I don’t think there has ever been a time when I could make one meal that we could or would all eat. Josh will often ask for something, I will make it, then he will ask for something else entirely. The problem for me is that I know if he doesn’t eat at dinner, he will wake up just after midnight because he is hungry and since sleep is such an issue with him anyway, I try to avoid situations that are likely to exacerbate that. So I am back in the kitchen getting him something else. On any given night I make at least 3 different meals to cater to everyone’s needs, either by necessity (Zach’s allergies) or it being the lesser of two evils (Josh eating at dinner instead of in the middle of the night). Restaurant indeed. At least at my house we have a twist on the old “No shirt, no shoes, no service” routine - No shirt, no shoes, no problem. No pants on the other hand, means no food, no exceptions. Hey, I don’t want Michelin taking away any stars just because Josh is naked at the table...

My situation is a little extreme compared to most but I know I’m not the only mom out there who has a kid or kids who treat mealtime as though they were at Baskin Robbins, tasting a little of this, a little of that, before they finally decide on which of the 31 flavors is going to rock their free will this time.