It’s been a while since a post. There has been some nice progress made – as long as it has nothing to do with me. In this house with me as the cook, the girls refuse to expand their diets. Whether I am gently encouraging, firmly insisting, or completely neutral, they are unwilling to eat what I cook. I want to bang my head against the kitchen table and cry. Interestingly, Linlee is more open to trying something different (not too different) at her grandmother’s house, or a restaurant, or even school. Over the summer, her grandfather introduced her to Cranberry-grape juice. Linlee has never drank juice in her life (which has been fine with me; it’s unnecessary). But when her grandpa offered it to her, she tasted it and liked it. She would never taste juice for me. This year she has started taking hot lunch at school. I was beside myself with joy at first. Linlee is experimenting! Then I realized that she is only choosing hot lunch when they serve a corn dog, hot dog, pizza, or grilled cheese. Still, it is progress. I’ll take it! (She won’t eat a grilled cheese sandwich at home, by the way, only other places.) Rob and I were both stunned when she was served strawberries in vanilla yogurt at a restaurant and ate them. Whoohoo! She will not eat vanilla yogurt at home. On a rare occasion, she will eat a Wallaby brand strawberry yogurt – no other kind. So when other places, we are seeing a bit of progress which is very exciting. I have no answer why we can’t experience the same progress at home. It’s the same for Holly. She mostly wants ramen noodles or Kraft mac&cheese. She will eat new things at school for hot lunch – such as turkey and cheese sandwich, fish and chips, or even a chicken salad!!! – but not at home. Tonight I made mac&cheese from scratch. Holly is refusing to touch it. She eats Kraft mac&cheese, Stouffer’s mac&cheese, school cafeteria mac&cheese, but she will not eat my mac&cheese. It’s hard not to take it personally. It’s also super, super annoying. Of course Linlee wouldn’t touch it either; she made herself her usual peanut butter and honey sandwich. I don’t really know what to say except that we have food issues at our house. It’s the opposite of what I wanted and I can’t seem to fix it. I haven’t pushed new food on the girls for over a year now. I felt excited when I saw them trying new foods at school. I thought maybe they were ready to expand their diet at home too. Nope. Argh.
Christina asked if I allow the girls snacks. I do. One of the French rules was no snacking, but I can’t pull that off. It’s actually a problem with Holly (age four) who is home more than her older sister and wants to snack all day long. I hate to battle with her over food because I certainly don’t want to her to end up with any food issues, but it’s a problem. All she wants to do is eat. The girls are allowed apples, oranges, or bananas whenever they are hungry. I keep a fruit bowl on the counter which they can get into anytime without needing to ask. They can also have cheese sticks, yogurt, berries or grapes, raisins, nuts, raw veggies, and sometimes crackers or popcorn if they’d like something different from what’s in the fruit bowl. I’ve been meaning to make some mini zucchini muffins as a special treat for snack time. If the girls have eaten a good dinner, I allow them a treat at the end of the day, like a cookie or small bowl of ice cream. This system actually works perfectly with Linlee. She has breakfast, lunch at school, grabs a snack from the fruit bowl when she gets home, has dinner and then a treat (and sometimes another fruit). Holly, however, spends her day begging for food even when she’s just been fed. She also gets frustrated with the healthy choices and makes a fuss when she can’t have a popsicle, cookies, or chips for her midday snack. She knows they exist (even if they aren’t in the house) and wants them. I’ve got enough backbone to stick to my guns, but it doesn’t make for a pleasant day arguing with a preschooler over food all day long. Hopefully this will be less of a problem when she is in school full-time.
Linlee is now drinking milk again – hooray! It was a choice she made on her own. I am totally neutral now about what she chooses to eat/drink or not. I don’t encourage or discourage anything. Other than that change, all the is the same. She has a fried egg and toast for breakfast every morning. She has a peanut butter sandwich, fruit and cucumber for lunch and dinner every single day. I would go insane from boredom, but not so my daughter. I have started requiring that Linlee make her own sandwich every evening, rather than me making a stack fo meals ahead of time. She is now ten and being able to make a peanut butter sandwich is an important life skill, don’t you know. She’s doing a fine job.
Holly eats the grown-up meals about half the time. Otherwise it’s cheese, crackers and fruit. I still can’t get her to eat vegetables unless they are in soup. Thankfully she loves soup, all kinds.
Okay, the following book cracked me up. In fact, a few lines had me howling because it’s how I feel (although I don’t use those words) and it means I’m not alone. If you’re going to listen, please make sure the children are not in the room, or else plug in the headphones. This is the sequel to Go the BLEEP to Sleep.
Linlee is limiting her diet more than ever before. She dropped quesadillas a while ago, and now she has dropped pizza, French toast and pancakes from her tiny list of food items she will eat. I think we’re down to peanut butter & jam sandwiches, fried eggs, toast, hot dogs and cucumbers. And fruit (she’s still good on fruit). Last night (not knowing the new rules), I made pancakes and bacon for dinner, hoping that we could all eat the same thing for a change. Linlee stomped her foot, put her hands up in resistance and said, “No, no, no! I will have something different.” Because I’m not getting into this fight with her anymore, I said, “Fine, go get a sandwich from the fridge.” She did. She chose the exact same meal that she has been having for lunch and dinner the last two months straight rather than eat a pancake. Whatever. But what really threw me was later when her daddy came home and was eating pancakes and bacon, she wanted a pancake too. WTH? I could have forced the pancakes on her at dinner time (because apparently she does still eat them), but I’m trying to be hands off regarding food and letting her make her own decisions. I believe her decision is that she will never eat what mommy makes for dinner. I honestly think that’s it. The entire situation is too frustrating for words.
So we’re plugging along. My new system of feeding the family is going smoothly and continues to alleviate a lot of the stress around dinner time. Mostly I just need to have the prepared-ahead meals ready for Linlee. Turns out without any pressure to eat the grown-up meal or even taste “one bite” has had a positive affect on Holly. She is actually choosing to eat the grown-up meals about 75% of the time now. I think this is a good example of how certain parenting techniques do not fit all children. When I got really strict and laid down the law about “it’s the grown-up dinner or nothing” it only backfired. Truly. When I eased up and said, “You know what? It’s your choice,” she became much more open to enjoying the grown-up food. Excellent lesson. As for Linlee, she continues to try to shrink her diet. She will no longer touch the strawberry yogurt which she had been grooving on the last year. She’s also decided that pizza is off her list of approved foods. Okay. She is finishing her morning fried eggs less and less now, so I suspect that she will be phasing them out at some point as well. I can only shake my head. On the other side of the coin, she has started nibbling on cucumber and zucchini. It is awesome that she might be adding some more veggies to the very short list of foods she will eat. Mostly she survives on peanut butter sandwiches, but she is allowed hot dogs on Saturday. I’m not fighting it anymore. Like I said, meal time at our house has become much more pleasant – which is important to me – and the girls go to bed with full tummies.
It’s true that I’ve thrown in the towel on insisting that my children taste/eat the grown-up dinner. I’m disappointed, but last week went so smoothly that I can’t say I’m sorry. Tonight I took it easy and made a cheese omelette with hash browns and fruit. When I called the girls to dinner, Linlee cried out in a panicked voice, “Oh no! What are we having, oh no!” She sounded like she expected the answer to be “live slugs” or something. This has been a typical response for the last 16 months (very grating on the nerves). Even though she will sometimes eat cheese and she loves eggs, I knew better than to expect her to eat a cheese omelette. That would be crazy, right? So I plopped one of the premade meals I’d packed a few days ago (peanut butter sandwich, grapes, carrots and cucumber slices) onto the table. Linlee slid into her place without further comment or fussing and quietly ate everything. Holly ate the omelette. Dinner was peaceful and everyone had a full tummy at the end. This is better. I’m still in charge of the food they eat. I’m still choosing the healthy bread, the grass-fed dairy, the non-processed options for snacks, etc. I managed to switch to the farm eggs (rather than grocery store eggs) and no one is complaining about the super orange yolks anymore, so that is a win. We’re not perfect, but our diet has improved since the spring when I began focusing on eating “real food.” So even if the girls aren’t eating the grown-up meals, they are still eating well. I’m satisfied for now.