Tag Archives: fussy eating

Would you like any vegetables with that sir?

12 Apr

I went to a kid’s party this weekend. Kid’s party = party food.

Now neither of my kids are great eaters. Actually, that is a terrible understatement. They are the world’s worst eaters.

The eldest won’t eat a single fruit or vegetable. Only tonight we spent an hour coaxing him into eating 2 mouthfuls of mashed potato (this is buttery potato we’re talking about, it’s not exactly like we were asking him to munch on swede). It’s a constant source of frustration, despair and guilt for me.

Anyway, we were at this party. And the obligatory tomatoes, sticks of cucumber and carrot were laid out among the crisps, chocolate fingers and sausages. I looked on, as ever, in disbelief. Would the kids really eat this stuff? For a moment i considered cajoling my eldest into sitting at the end of the table where they’d forgotten to put any “fun” food. Forcing him into declaring a kiddy hunger strike. “But it’s a party” my husband said. “We can’t worry about it today.” (He was right of course. I just wish my children didn’t eat like it was a party every day.)

So i watched with interest as the children piled in, got themselves settled at the table, put on their party hats, and waited. Sizing the table up with skill beyond his 3 years, my son headed straight for the end of the table by the cake stand. He was visibly drooling.

Eager mums and dads picked up handfuls of vegetables, and expectantly laid them on their children’s plates next to the sweet and salty delights. Being far too experienced, and much less optimistic, i didn’t bother to embellish my own son’s plate with greenery.

So I watched.

I’m known for this kind of food voyeurism. I’m a regular nosy parker at preschool lunch tables, peering into other children’s lunchboxes. Feeling satisfed when i see a box full of crisps and babybels, but disheartened by a satsuma poking out from behind a fruit shoot.

Crisps were picked up in chubby hands. Chocolate fingers stuffed with gusto into mucky faces. But apart from one girl who ate a single carrot stick, the fruit and vegetables lay untouched.

I have to admit i felt more than a little vindicated. Perhaps my kids weren’t that different after all?

Some days i’m fine with it. Calm. Firm. “Well darling, it’s your choice whether to eat it or not, but there won’t be anything else until tomorrow”. Other days, when i’m a little tired or stressed, i rant. Shout. Threaten. The frustration just becomes all too much.

But you can’t forcefeed a child. Can you?

One day we’d made hamburgers (and if you’ve read my post Craft and Baking you’ll know this is no mean feat.) He’d been really excited, switched on to the idea of eating his own food. But when we sat down to dinner, and before he’d even picked up his fork, i heard the familiar “I don’t like it. i don’t want it. It’s got red pepper iiiiiiinnnnnn”.

I took a deep breath. All i could think was “THIS IS A BLOODY HAMBURGER WE’RE TALKING ABOUT, NOT SPRING VEGETABLE STIRFRY”! Hadn’t he noticed the red pepper as he was cheerfully adding handfuls to the hamburger mix?

The thing is, in my mum’s day, i’m not sure anyone would have expected a child to eat a raw carrot or cucumber stick. Houmous – or kiddy cat nip as i think of it – certainly didn’t exist. “Add a sauce. Children like a sauce” my mum always says to me as i lament the peas and carrots sitting on the side of the plate. Now i’ve tried this. And it does actually work. Smother the veg in gravy / ketchup / salad cream and the chance of your child eating the vegetables increases exponentially. Which in the case of my children is 3% rather than zero.

So maybe the biggest difference is with the parents?

Maybe i’ve just given up pretending that my kids will eat the side salad (a totally pointless part of the pizza express kids menu) whereas other mums and dads still carry on the pretence? Still kid themselves that their son / daughter might just fancy a bit of red onion on their garlic dough balls today. After all, if they offer it, won’t it automatically increase their parent points?

Perhaps it’s more abnormal for a child to be eating cucumber than smearing his / her face with chocolate ice cream? After all, I know which one i’d choose.