One afternoon in my parenting journey I went to see a nutritionist because I decided there was something wrong with my kid. He only ate five things, okay, maybe seven.
I learned at this way station that there is nothing “wrong” with any of my children and that calling my kid “kinda weird” was not appropriate. My son was “special,” a child with special dietary considerations.
Well, call “special” what you will, my kid only ate pizza and jelly sandwiches for three years and I think that’s weird. But then there is always someone out there who can out-weird you, like the woman a friend told me about whose kid only ate red food. But it’s not a competition.
So there we were, special in our own special dietary way, meeting with a nutritionist and learning about techniques to introduce new foods to a kid who didn’t want to eat them.
It did not matter what sort of techniques I tried, my son figured them all out. Despite her best efforts, the nutritionist wasn’t any more effective than I was at getting the kid to eat broccoli, quinoa or a nugget that wasn’t shaped like a dinosaur.
To my son’s credit, he does eat normal kid food, jelly sandwiches and pizza, macaroni ’n’ cheese, spaghetti and meat balls, hamburgers and Cheerios covered in sugar. The kind of stuff we ate when I was a kid. And then we guzzled Kool-Aid to wash it all down. Nobody was hauling any of us off to a nutritionist and getting concerned because we didn’t eat brown rice and grilled chicken.
But I will tell you what we didn’t do. We didn’t eat candy or desserts unless it was a birthday or a holiday. We seldom went out to eat and we never ate fast food. We all grew up, and although some form of cancer caused by Kool-Aid may wipe out my entire generation before we turn 60, we are all healthy enough. I think what I’m doing now is kinda ridiculous. I’m taking everything to extremes.
I obsess about healthy diets at home and then go out for fast food because there is no time to cook when we have hockey after karate. I buy whole-wheat bread from an organic bakery and skim milk from organic dairies, then I send cupcakes into the classroom for every birthday and candy for all the holiday parties. I buy snacks when I’m the snack mom for T-ball that mostly look like junk food, granola bars loaded with sugar and juice with more sugar. All of this excess because our kids are so special?
No, they’re just normal kids who want to eat normal kid food. If I didn’t shove granola bars at my son after T-ball games and make cupcakes for his entire class for birthdays, then maybe I could stop worrying about the brown rice and edamame he won’t eat.
After three years of frustration with my son at the dinner table, I finally met a therapist who told me to just feed him what he wants to eat. Kids don’t have to eat grilled chicken. Jelly sandwiches and macaroni ’n’ cheese are perfectly sensible food choices for a 7-year-old boy; the rest is up to me. Luckily, I know where to buy organic Kool-Aid.