It’s official, my friends: Connor has become a picky eater. The same kid whose eating habits I bragged about unceasingly for over two years has suddenly become… well, not birdlike; let us leave the euphemism charitably at selective. He eats, yes, great heaping quantities of food. Rather, he eats great heaping quantities of a food, maybe sometimes two foods if I am sly. This is distressing to me for many reasons — first, because as mentioned seconds ago, I have bragged to everyone incessantly about how my son eats such a varied diet, really, he’ll try anything; second, because despite prevailing wisdom I refuse to believe that his eating half a bowl of Cheerios and a fruit roll-up means that “he knows what his body needs;” and finally, because I am a very lazy mommy. I’ve always insisted that what he eats be balanced, but I have never cared about whether it is meal-like, served at mealtime, or aesthetically pleasing.
This has led to some odd meals — scrambled eggs, string cheese, green beans, and Wheat Thins, for example. Half an apple, two slices of deli ham, and a whole-wheat muffin? Fine. As long as what he eats consists of veggie-or-fruit, protein, dairy, and grains-or-starch, we’re golden. It’s a meal, it’s got nutrients, it’s a little bit wonky but I can live with it. This recent spate of pickiness has plunged my whole system into chaos, because Connor will not eat more than one thing at one sitting. Usually, he will not eat more than one thing in one day. He will eat Cheerios and maybe some cheese for breakfast, but no fruit and no turkey bacon, and then he will insist on Cheerios and maybe some cheese for lunch. And snack. And dinner. And the next day’s breakfast. And… I think you see where this is going. I can be sneaky, but only up to a point: if eggs are on the menu I can probably hide some peas and carrots under them, but there is no chance of getting him to eat bread. Eventually, however, he always catches on, and then his requests get more and more specific, with attenuating tantrums scaled up appropriately.
“Mommy, can I have some eggs? But I want NO PEAS and NO CARROTS with them. I don’t like that white cheese and that yellow cheese, TOO. Can I have some eggs on a plate with no veggies and no cheese? And I don’t want any HAM, TOO!”
Eggs will, upon first request, be served in a bowl with carrots and peas and a tiny, optimistic sprinkling of cheese on top. His brows descending to Neanderthal levels, Connor will shoot me the world’s tinest stinkeye.
“HEY! Are there VEGGIES in here? I SAID I DON’T WANY ANY CHEESE, TOO! NOOOOOOOOO I DON’T WANT TO EAT IT I WANT SOME EGGS ON A PLATE PLEASE I DON’T LIKE THESE ONESSSSSSSSSS!”
Eggs will be served in a bowl, having been cooked in the vicinity of carrots and peas but completely without the taint of cheese, with a pathetically hopeful sliver of toast on the side.
“IIIIIIIIII…. DONNNNNNN’T…. LIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIKE…. THE BOOOOOOOOOOOWL!!”
Eggs will be served on a plate, the better to assure my miniature tyrant that there are no vegetables or cheese lurking beneath. Eggs will be dry, scrambled with no butter or salt, pasty off-white curds of yuck on a Cars plate. The cats will watch avidly as Connor plucks microscopic bits from his plate and transfers them via enthusiastic flinging to his mouth, dropping three-quarters of said eggs to the floor for the cats’ enjoyment. I will toss my hands up in defeat, mutter darkly about scurvy and constipation, and consider hitting the bottle. Balanced meals? I got your stinkin’ balanced meals right here, buddy.