Fact: my daughter is a picky eater. This is not news to me, nor should it be to you, if you've been following along. Former speculation that has now become a proven fact: she is also a wild card.
Last week, Dawson and I packed a picnic dinner to take to the park. We were cutting up green peppers for a snack for ourselves, not expecting Thumper to give them even one glance. But then my wild card just flat-out asked for a slice. Say what now? Dawson eagerly handed her a piece while I stared wide-eyed, with my jaw on the floor. She only ate three bites before deciding that was enough, but still. My heart soared knowing that she was even willing to try. It gave me hope.
A few days later, I felt energized enough to give this vegetable thing another go. Beside the three bites of green pepper, Thumper hadn’t eaten
much anything in the way of veggies for at least a couple months. So I
plunked some cooked zucchini in front of her (she used to love this stuff) and
hoped for the best. I was met with Thumper’s best screams for the following
fifteen minutes. After begging and threatening like the Supernanny
nightmare I had become in those heated moments, I finally asked Thumper if she
would prefer to eat with a spoon or fork. Mid-wail, she stopped, thought about
it and then asked for a fork. I gave her one, and she ate the whole bowl of
zucchini, then a second and a third. WHAT THE EFF? Was it really that easy? Was
that the one step I’d been missing this whole damn time? Whatever. I don’t care
because it’s what’s working now and I feel like a good enough chunk of my sanity
has been returned.
For most of Thumper’s life, I’ve severely tried to restrict junk food (for her, not me, of course.) It’s not that I really care if she has some cookies or ice cream here and there, but considering her meal choices are limited and not always the healthiest and even those are usually touch-and-go, why bother giving her sweets to fill up on? It’s hard enough on days when she isn’t stuffing her face with cookies and such. But lately, I've started to ease up. For one, because my mom and mother-in-law each get a full day to spoil her every week and I have pretty much no control over what she eats. And two, to be honest, the kid wore me down and I needed to start caring less in order to survive. I was so invested and so worried that it was starting to kill me. So now treats have become sort of regular in our house, and of course, just as I was coming to terms with that fact, the guilties kicked in and I started to fret that I was ruining a perfectly good child with horrible food. Then a wonderful thing happened. One day, Thumper was halfway done a cookie when she handed it back to me and said ‘I all done.’ I thought maybe it was a test because what kid isn’t going to finish a friggin’ cookie and tried to give it back but she looked at me like I was crazy and said ‘I not want it. You eat it.’ So I stuck it in my mouth and waited for her to cry and ask for it back, but she just smiled and asked if it was good. So I chewed. And it was good.
So what did I learn from all this? Well, for one thing, giving my child junk food will not automatically kill her. And neither will letting her go two months without any real vegetables. For another, she is capable of deciding when she’s had enough food, whether its sweets or veggies. But more importantly, putting so much pressure on what she would and wouldn’t eat only made her more determined to do the exact opposite of what I wanted. It’s a lesson I hear other moms talk about all the time. Hell, I even learned about that when I was eight watching that episode of Step by Step where Carol forbids Dana to marry that surfer she meets while they’re on vacation in Hawaii and Frank has to remind Carol that the more she tells Dana not to do something, the more she will want to do it. So yeah, I always knew that if I acted nonchalant about food, then there was a better chance that she’d choose to eat some on her own. But it’s so much easier said than done. I was totally incapable of detaching myself enough from her eating habits to be nonchalant until the situation wore me down so much that I just gave up for awhile altogether, resolving to try again when I had the heart to do it. And that’s when the green pepper thing happened. Of course it did. It’s just like when you lose your passport, or your favourite necklace. The minute you give up and stop looking, that’s when you come across what you were searching for. It’s like this odd reward for quitting. It’s another one of those ass-backwards law of the universe. I get it, universe. I get it. You win. YOU ALWAYS WIN, YOU GREEDY BITCH.
But Thumper is eating vegetables again, so maybe we’ll call it a tie.