You Know You Have A Picky Eater When…

Every time I sit down at the table to eat with my kids, I wonder how they can be mine.  I watch as they poke, prod, and scowl at the contents of their plates while I quickly devour my own meal with much ease and enjoyment, and I think how on earth are we related?

Because I like food.  Hell, I love the stuff.  I love to make food.  I love to buy food.   I love to watch food being made (sup Food Network?). And most of all, I love to put food in my mouth and eat it.

My children, on the other hand, generally want NOTHING to do with food.  To them, the four major food groups are: potato chips, chocolate, lollipops and fruit snacks.  Everything else is “for grown-ups”.

To his credit, my son has made a lot of improvement since graduating toddlerhood.  These days, he’ll even choke down a piece of lettuce every once in a while.  But my daughter?  Is the WORST.  Much, much worse than my son ever was.  She drives me insane.  I don’t think she’s ever eaten a whole meal in her life.  I don’t even understand how she’s still alive.

At almost two and a half years old, she weighs in at a whopping 22 pounds of teeny tiny toddler.

Here’s a fun fact: actual babies have emerged from their mother’s womb weighing more than my daughter does right now.  Seriously, I looked it up (and you thought your chunky nine-pounder was a butterball).

I'll tell you where you can put that dinner....

I’ll tell you where you can put that dinner, Mom….

Basically, I know a thing or two about picky eaters.  So are you in the same boat? Let’s find out!

You know you have a picky eater when:

1. Your child is much more interested in the utensil itself than the food she is supposed to be placing on it.  I once left the kitchen for a minute during lunchtime and returned to find my daughter eating her mac n cheese with a screwdriver (note to self: remind Big M that it’s only okay to leave a tool within arms’ reach of a toddler if he at least plans to fix something with it at some point).

2. The very prospect of running low on your child’s favorite food, otherwise known as the ONLY thing they will happily eat, is enough to keep you up at night, tossing and turning and contemplating a 2a.m. run to the supermarket.  And running out of it altogether?  Can we say DEFCON 5?

3. You will give into almost any food request.  I made my daughter a peanut butter and Nutella sandwich (!) the other day, and apparently that wasn’t heavenly enough for her because she refused to eat it until I slathered some butter over the top, too.  So guess what?  I whipped out that Breakstone’s tub and smeared like nobody’s business. Guess what else? She still didn’t eat it.

4. Remember the days when you honestly believed you would always cook just ONE meal for your whole family and everyone would sit down and eat it together? “I’m not a short order cook!” you would exclaim. HAHAHAHAHA!  Wasn’t that cute?

5. You rarely make your own lunch because you now live off of untouched leftovers.  Same goes for the dog (who’s looking like he might need a diet soon).

6. You often find yourself wondering how your child has not yet starved to death, considering that if you went that long without a meal your stomach would leap from your body and drive itself to the nearest McDonald’s.

7. You’ll do practically ANYTHING to get your child to eat, including but not limited to: airplane/train mimicking, deception, book-reading and TV-watching during meals, singing songs about food, dancing to songs about food, buying toys that look like food, allowing them to cook their own food, and prying open their clamped little mouths and just shoving the food in yourself.  For the most part, none of that ever works.  But you’re unfailingly willing to try.  My daughter sometimes responds well to a hearty round of applause after every bite she takes.  Yep, you read that correctly: applause after EVERY SINGLE BITE. It’s like being in the Wheel of Fortune audience while trying to eat dinner.  Isn’t it amazing that I haven’t jumped off a cliff yet?

8. This is a disturbingly familiar routine:  your child tries something new and LOVES it, finishing off every last bite until the plate is scraped clean.  You practically fall off your chair with excitement, then immediately hightail over to Costco to buy a six-month supply– only to find that she suddenly hates it and refuses to touch it the next time you give it to her.  Or ever again.

9. Dinnertime in your house is pretty much a three-ring circus.  One kid is hopping dangerously up and down on her chair while the other is trying to eat his soup with his toes.  One kid has to get up to pee three times and the other follows him into the bathroom.  One kid is crying hysterically because there are vegetables on his plate while the other is crawling around on the table and tossing food into the dog’s mouth.

10. You sometimes harbor actual feelings of animosity toward anyone with children who are good eaters, secretly wishing years of obesity on the whole family (okay, not really….but maybe just one kid….).

11. You resist the urge to roll your eyes and scream whenever people without children dish out unwanted advice on how to improve your child’s diet (I’m looking at you, Rachael Ray).  Come to think of it, this is your same response to ANY bit of parenting advice given by someone without children (now I’m looking at you, Supernanny).

12. There is absolutely ZERO chance of your child eating a single piece of food when company is over, or on play dates, at parties, or basically anytime there is something even the slightest bit interesting or distracting going on.  Well, at least until it’s time for cake and dessert.

13. There is no limit to the excuses your child will give for not eating, since they know they can’t use “I’m not hungry” every time.  Here are a few examples, courtesy of my son: “the cereal is too spicy”; “I’m too tired to eat”; and my favorite “but I ate dinner yesterday!”

Okay, I'll give you "too tired to eat" this time.

Okay, I’ll give you “too tired to eat” this time.

14. You’ve contemplated buying stock in Pediasure, since you could have purchased a used car by now with the ridiculous amount of money you’ve spent on the stuff.  Seriously though, are crushed diamonds their secret ingredient?

15. You’ve found yourself examining the ice cream carton for calcium content, and you’ve conceded that a few squirts of ketchup is perfectly acceptable as a serving of vegetables.

16. Going to bed without dinner is neither a threat nor a punishment to your child; it’s more of his preference.

17. You would happily travel to the end of the earth (or pay for international overnight shipping, anyway) for anything your child likes that has even the slightest amount of nutritional value.

18. All poor eating habits seem to magically disappear at Grandma’s house.  “I don’t know what you’re talking about!  She ate her whole dinner for me.” Argh.

19. You’ve witnessed your child eat random, inedible objects off the floor since the day she learned how to crawl, yet she still won’t eat anything you put in front of her.  Apparently, Cheerios taste better after marinating in dust bunnies under the couch for a month.

20. Bribery. So, so much bribery.

The Ten Grossest Things My Kids Do

Kids can be disgusting.  Adorable too, of course, but still pretty gross.  At least, I know mine are.  If you’d like to claim that yours aren’t, then either take them back to their home planet or shut up and quit lying.  So here’s a little list I made detailing some of the yuckiest stuff they do.  It’s only ten items long, but I’m sure you could add at least ten more based on your own child’s less-than-civilized undertakings.

This entry is not for the faint-of-heart, but then again, neither is parenthood.  So if you fall into the category of people who simply cannot discuss peeing, pooping, throwing up, spitting up, or any other undesirable thing that comes out of your child, then feel free to click over to Facebook now and read someone else’s horoscope or something.  And while you’re at it, maybe see if you can find ANYONE ELSE to raise your kids, ya big p-word.

1. The In-Your Face Sneeze – It doesn’t matter how many times you remind your kids to sneeze into a tissue, or a napkin, or their sleeve, or even their hand (GASP! how politically incorrect of me!), you surely have found yourself on the receiving end of the in-your-face sneeze more than a few times.  Now, I’m not a big fan of being sneezed on, but when it’s my own kid it’s not really a big deal.  However, I take issue with the in-your-face sneeze when: 1- I’m eating, and the in-your-face sneeze becomes the in-your-lunch sneeze; 2- I’m wearing my glasses, and I have to pause whatever I’m doing to clean streaks of mucus off of the lenses; and 3- the sneezing child is sick, and an innocent little sneeze is followed by another, and another, and one more, and then out shoots the long, dangling strand of snot headed straight for your bare foot.

2. Booger Presents – Since we’re already on the subject of things that originate in the nasal passage… Isn’t it just so awesome when your child HANDS YOU A BOOGER?  This is a favorite pastime for my two-year-old daughter, who often likes to dig a pinky or pointer in her tiny little honker to extract the largest green boulder she can find up there, then proudly hand it off to me, smiling like a cat who just left a dead bird on its owner’s kitchen table.

3. Floating Poop in the Tub – I actually had to limit my daughter’s tub time to no longer than five minutes for a while because she was constantly contaminating the bath water.   One time I left the room to grab a wash cloth and returned to find her splashing around with her new, brown, homemade tub toys.  Just what every mom wants to do after putting the kids to bed: scrub down the entire bathroom with bleach.  So….we do showers now.

4. Spit Out Food – Unless you’re a baby bird, or Alicia Silverstone (20 years post Clueless), there is NOTHING attractive about chewed-up food.  When adults taste something we dislike, we either choke it down and guzzle the nearest beverage, or at least have the decency to discreetly spit it into a napkin (I know, I know – that’s what she said).  But heaven forbid a tiny piece of lettuce should find its way onto your unsuspecting child’s chicken nugget, somehow sliding under the FBI-level radar of your little picky eater, you should prepare for the most theatrical of mock-regurgitations.  And if you’re really lucky, little Fido will scamper over to indulge in any bits and pieces that have found their way to the floor.  Seriously, you’re lucky if that happens- it’s less for you to clean up.

5. Peanut Butter Face – Also known as ice cream face, chocolate face, jelly face, ketchup face, yogurt face, and pasta sauce face.  But isn’t it just so cute to watch them enjoying their meals?  Sometimes the food even ends up IN their mouth!  And you can whip out the iPhone and capture every gloriously messy moment on video!  Yup, it’s all fun and games until someone’s gotta clean that little mofo up.  And let’s face it, the cuter the picture, the more baby wipes you’re gonna need.

1h

Okay, I admit that this wasn’t the messiest baby picture I could find, but it was too cute to pass up!

6. Eat Random Shit – My daughter is SO PICKY.  Some days I’m lucky if I can get her to eat more than a pretzel and a slice of cheese all day.  Yet, for some reason, she will eat absolutely ANYTHING she finds on the floor.  Old Cheerios?  Yum. Hardened Play-Doh scraps? Sure.  Tiny LEGOs?  Delish.  Dog food?  Bring it on.  And in addition to her prized culinary floor findings, she also enjoys a nice fingerful of glue every now and then, a direct-from-the-dispenser gulp of body lotion after a bath, and, of course, the colorful, waxy, scrumptiousness of anything Crayola.

7. Not Washing Hands After Poop – I’m as fond of good personal hygiene as the next mama, but if my kid forgets to wash his hands after a tinkle, I’m not exactly going to flip my lid.  However, do NOT let me find out he did a number two in that bowl and failed to wash his hands afterward.  That is just plain disgusting.  Because it was only less than a year ago that “I’m DOING COCKY, COME WIPE MY BUTTTTTTTTT!” was a daily shriek heard from inside the bathroom.  Thank GOD that shit is over with now (pun intended), but you can never be too sure how perfectly this task is performed by an amateur wiper. 

8. Sand Crotch – Is there any feeling NASTIER than sand when it’s, well, pretty much anywhere sand isn’t supposed to be…?  It’s funny how people go to the beach, a place with only two components – sand and water – and then spend the entire day trying to avoid touching a single grain of sand?  Not kids, though.  Kids LOVE sand.  The sandier a child can be, the better.  In fact, I think these kids even secretly compete with each other to see who can transfer the most sand from the beach to the car, with bonus points for any sand that makes it into the house.  My kids never fail to go directly from the water to the sand, and from there right to the clean blanket.  And then- “I’m having fun, mommy!  Can I give you a HUG??” Uh, no thanks….

1j

Look mom! Sand shoes! Can I take them home?

9. Spit Up – I’m lucky, because my kids were never big spitter-uppers or big thrower-uppers.  But that didn’t stop my daughter from spitting up DIRECTLY INTO MY MOUTH once.  I suppose this one was my own fault, as common sense would dictate that you shouldn’t spin a recently-fed baby around in the air, even if she usually loves the airplane game.  But it was pretty damn gross, so it makes the list. 

10. Wet the Bed – I believe that those three little words accurately sum up my entire life since becoming a parent, as I have a FIVE year old who still wears a pull-up diaper to bed because he’s prone to nighttime accidents.  Soiled sheets and pajamas have simply become a routine part of my life – the faint, malodourous scent of stale urine seemingly following my every move, and the endless paranoia that I’ve somehow missed a yellow spot somewhere is always lurking in the back of my nose.  It’s quite unsettling.  And every time I think I trust him to start making it through the night, thinking I’m finally free from purchasing overpriced pull-up diapers and the 3a.m. fumbling around in the dark for clean pajamas, I always find myself knee-deep in piss-covered Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle sheets all over again.  Such is the plight of a bed-wetter’s mom.