There was a time when baby would happily double fist mounds of delicious homemade food I had made her, shoving it into her mouth. She had no preferences back then, she was just happy to eat food. Iâd make her homemade chicken soup with homemade stock, chunks of chicken, bowtie pasta, carrots, peas and onion. Chicken curry with potatoes served over jasmine rice. Homemade meatballs that were simmered in a sauce for hours, served on pasta, and topped with cheese. Homemade mac n cheese with my own bÃ©chamel sauce and chunks of poached chicken and broccoli. Grilled salmon marinated with soy. Roast chicken. Home fried potatoes. Rice porridge. Fried rice with egg, chicken, peas and carrots. Scrambled eggs with ham and cheddar cheese. Cinnamon toast. Grilled cheese with tomato soup. Pancakes with blueberries or chocolate chips. Fruit salad with berries. Roasted sweet potato. Roasted spaghetti squash. Homemade meatloaf with mashed potatoes. Scalloped potatoes. Potatoes au gratin.
I thought if I crammed in all those foods while she enjoyed them, then she would continue to enjoy them and not become the typical picky toddler. I thought I figured it all out. It was so easy. I was downright smug, thinking to myself, I bet all these other parents didnât open their toddlers up to a variety of foods and thatâs why theyâre such picky eaters, eating only processed chicken nuggets or slices of plain white bread or mashed potatoes every day. Sooooo smug. And I have a food blog, right? Maybe I can create a little foodie thatâs open to everything. I can train her. It can workâ¦.right?
Since sheâs turned one, baby currently eats oatmeal in the morning with some fruit. For lunch she eats a few pieces of grilled cheese and a yogurt. For dinner itâs a lost cause, she eats her tears as she cries and throws a tantrum, shaking her head at every option I offer her. Peas are thrown. Rice is on the floor. Chunks of fruit splattered on the table, on the wall, on my hair, on the cat. After 10-15 minutes of crying she reluctantly obliges and shoves a couple of peas in her mouth, then shakes her head again. She wants nothing to do with my cooking. I am a big fat failure.
Every time she throws my food on the floor, the food I take 30 minutes to an hour preparing, the food that takes me time during the day to plan out, the food I buy at the grocery store, that I pick up at the farmersâ market, I react the same way I always do â as if a judge on Iron Chef just threw my food on the floor, as if it were garbage that wasnât worthy to be 12 inches from their face. Completely frustrated and hopeless, I end up going on a tangent that usually goes something like this: âDonât you understand that I worked hard on this? This took me an hour, do you know how long that is? This isnât Kraft Mac n Cheese! Itâs homemade BÃ©chamel sauce with sharp cheddar I shredded myself! I stirred this BÃ©chamel for like 10 minutes! I donât even know how to pronounce BÃ©chamel but it sounds fancy and you should like it because itâs not processed cheese from a box! Iâm making you nice, homemade food, why canât you appreciate it? Iâm not a bad cook!!!!â
Baby usually sits there silent, giving me a puzzled look, eyebrows arched, like what is mommy saying? What do all those words mean? I want my goldfish crackers. Look at the cat! I donât like mac n cheese. Iâll make a dirty face. Mommy wonât give me what I want. Iâll throw the mac n cheese all over the wall. Now itâs off my tray and on the wall. Problem solved.
At least thatâs what I think sheâs doing. I donât know. But usually after one of my long winded rants, I laugh at myself for treating her like sheâs a food critic about to write a bad review in the newspaper about me. Or that sheâll write on her blog about how Soupbelly really is a crappy cook. That Iâm a sham. And the laughing turns into crying. And baby cries and I cry and Chris comes home from work and sees food splattered all over the dining room and takes her straight to a bath so I can spend the next half hour washing dishes and scrubbing food off the walls, carpet, and highchair. And itâs these precious moments that I really, really hate parenting. If I canât cook properly, what can I do for her? I canât sing lullabies to her because it sounds like a cat being strangled. Iâm not creative enough at playing games. I try to dance with her with music playing but she wonders why mommy is having a seizure. I can read books to her but she rather just flip the pages than listen to mommyâs monotone voice. Everything I do for her seems so mediocre, the bathing, changing, playing, reading. Cooking seemed like the one thing I might be able to do better. But it isnât.
So I guess weâll go through the goldfish cracker, yogurt and oatmeal stage. I donât know what Iâd do if this is a transition to some Kraft Mac n Cheese, Chicken Mcnugget, Chef Boyardee pizza in a box, Mountain Dew stage. Because as we all know, goldfish crackers are the gateway food to Mcnuggets. For now Iâll dance like Iâm seizing and read books in my monotone voice and hope it passes soon. Real soon.