My 7-yr-old is on the beige food diet.
I’ve tried to explain many times why it’s important to eat brightly coloured foods but we just spend hours arguing the toss over yellow. Apparently cheese is bright yellow and therefore counts. So now we talk about green and red foods. He definitely doesn’t eat any of those, preferring the general brownness of the sausage, the bread and the potato.
He went through the typical fussy stage at 2 alongside all of his other preschoolers. Us mums used to giggle around the lunch table as our little ones screamed and squawked and refused to eat, happy in solidarity. But then all his friends got through that stage and started to accept a small amount of broccoli on the side of their plate. Or worst case on a separate plate. But Big Milk wouldn’t so much as hear speak of broccoli.
We decided pretty early doors that we weren’t going to fight him over it. He clearly wasn’t budging and would rather forgo pudding of any kind than eat even a tiny mouthful of something he didn’t like. So I started hiding the vegetables anywhere I could find to put them. Whizzed up in tomato sauce which he’d eat in copious amounts with pasta. Then I’d use the leftovers on pizza bases; nutrition masquerading as fast food. Carrots were grated into bolognaise and peeled courgettes went undercover in homemade fish goujons. He was none the wiser and in quiet triumph we rocked family meal times relatively stress-free.
But recently he’s declared war on all those foods he used to tolerate, favouring a much more militant beige-food-loving approach. Out with the pasta sauce and the casseroles and the homemade fish pie. Down with potatoes if they dare to advance with their dirty bothersome jackets on. For the past few days at school he’s eaten bread and potatoes for lunch. So much for “Fresh fruit and salad offered daily”. Clearly he responds no better to their authority than he does to mine.
But worse than the worry and the frustration and the guilt you can’t help but feel as a parent, are those mums that stick their noses in the air and with a whiff declare “My kids wouldn’t get away with that. They’ll eat what they’re given!”. Mentally at this point I’m smashing their heads into the glass panel on my front door as I bare my teeth in a snarl loosely disguised as a smile.
You see, I don’t cram my child full of sweets and biscuits all day long and wonder why they won’t eat their dinner. I do not give in at the first whiff of an uprising by declaring “Oh Archie, just eat whatever you want and we’ll move straight onto pudding.” (Clearly my child’s not called Archie, but you get my meaning). I am not a push-over-marshmallow-mum. My child’s food issues go far beyond mere fusspotting; they are borderline phobic.
He doesn’t respond to an iron fist, shameful bribery or promises of a million pounds. He doesn’t wave the white flag, exhausted after a 4 hour pea-stand-off. His only response is retching and choking and sicking up into his own mouth. In fact my child would be a pretty awesome hunger-strike activist if they’d allow such a thing.
The truth is, if your children do what you say it’s not because you’re some kind of super youobeymeordie mum, it’s because your kids just aren’t that testing. You are blessed with the holy grail of childkind – compliant children – and sadly those are given out only randomly when the sperm greets the egg.
So for now I’ll re-establish my motherly zen and claw back perspective by evoking the wise words of my dear friend Steph “Send A donation to Oxfam, for they have real feeding problems there.”