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Picky, Picky, Picky, Mealtime Madness

By: S. (Shae) A. Cooke

The first time I truly knew I was a mom was when I caught my son's vomit in my hands to save my sofa. The next time it became reality was as I squatted by a toilet in a bathroom stall trying to urge my son to "push hard" while overhearing two women my age discuss stock market trends. However, it didn't truly sink in until mealtimes. This was my crossover to true parenthood.

At four, my son's eating habits baffled me. No, frustrated me. Okay, back up. In all honesty, let's just say there were days I wanted to attach a noose around my neck and pull it tight. I had moments I wanted to trade him in for a garburator; there was so much wasted food. Frankly, I don't know how he's made it to nine with what he subsisted on. I fretted that if he didn't eat he'd be fitting in to one-stripe pajamas for the rest of his life. What is it about food and four-year-olds? What he'd once eat with relish (pun intended) he'd reject the next day. He developed eating rituals, and all of a sudden became the Howard Hughes of pickiness. One day he asked me for a peanut butter and banana sandwich. I didn't want to give it to him because I knew he'd turf it. He told me I was starving him, that he was really hungry, and that he'd eat it. I didn't buy in to the whining until he promised me he'd never pee his pants again, and so I relented and served it. I watched as his nose wrinkled, and then he gagged, pushed the plate off the table, and feigned death. "You didn't cut it into soldiers," he screamed, and the banana reminded him of "snot."

One day at the grocery store, he begged me to buy him a seven-dollar package of hotdogs on sticks?you know, those horrible wieners with a deep-fried batter coating. I said, "No." He held his breath. It wasn't until he turned the color of ripe eggplant that I relented. I flung the package into the grocery cart and reasoned that at least lunch wouldn't be such a struggle.

"There ya go, sport," I said as I took the wiener out of the microwave. He stared at his plate. "What's the matter . . . is it too hot, Hon?"
"I don't wike dis, it's gwoss." My eyes rolled heavenward and I toe-tapped to ten. "Eat it young man, or I'll hold my breath." He grabbed it, wielded it like a sword, and jabbed it at the cat. Someone call 911.

Most days, I felt like a short-order cook. I tried to please Mr. Fussy err, my son, but I always struck out. A well-meaning friend (childless) told me I catered to him too much, but I couldn't let him go hungry, could I? I think he controlled me. Yep--I'm sure of it--home run every time.

What really raised my angst was when hubby decided to make one of those rare appearances in the kitchen, and he'd take over the cooking. Uh huh--clean plate, no whining, high fives all around. "There's nothin' to it," my soon-to-be-ex would smugly say. Pow--right in the kisser! Food was "cool" when Dad cooked, and poison when I did.

I never should have quit breast-feeding?then my son's only choice was what was behind door number one or door number two--and only one flavor to choose from.

I've tried to flesh out the reasons why my little guy was so picky. Until he had friends, he ate almost everything. In fact, I'm convinced now that they made pacts with one another--secret oaths not to eat anything Moms prepare and to drive us crazy. I dunno. Maybe God meant for kids to eat the bad stuff. After all, they crave it all the time. They so seldom ask for turnip or green beans. Maybe they aren't getting enough fruit roll-ups, french-fries, or peanut butter cups. Then again, maybe it's our presentation skills. I should have told him he'd turn into superman if he ate his peas, or delivered his carrots on a flying saucer, or that if he wanted hair on his chest he'd have to eat his Mac-Broccoli. Lord knows I tried everything else.

However, eating does get better and by some miracle of God, kids grow and so does our patience. It's all so quick and before we know it, we find ourselves longing for the good-old days of table high jinx rather than the slam of the screen door as they grab their pizza pockets and dash off to school, leaving you with a lump in your throat, unbearable silence, and a strong desire to scrub spaghetti off the walls.
Mac Peas
Put peas in your little one’s favorite Macaroni and Cheese recipe! It works!
Mac Broccoli Cheese and Trees
Steam the broccoli and serve with a side bowl of melted cheese sauce. Dip the trees in the cheese!
Two ‘Can’t Miss’ Recipes
Hot Dog, It’s a Banana Dog!

Here’s a new twist on an old favorite—for breakfast, lunch, or snack time! Lightly toast a hot dog bun. Smear the inside with peanut butter. Place a peeled banana (sliced lengthwise) in the center.

Traffic Light Sandwiches
Get a green light from the kids with these nutritious sandwiches! Up the nutritional value and use whole-grain bread.
You Need: (makes two sandwiches)
2 slices of bread
2 slices of tomato
1 or 2 lettuce leaves
1 -2 slices of yellow/orange cheddar cheese
Small round cookie cutter OR the cap from a pop bottle
Butter one slice of bread. With cookie cutter or cap, cut two holes side by side at the top of the bread, two holes, side-by-side in the middle and two holes at the bottom of the bread—evenly spaced.

On the other slice, place the tomatoes (red) at the top, the cheese (amber) in the middle, and the lettuce (green) on the bottom. Put the piece of bread with the holes in it on top. Check to make sure the right colors show through. Cut the sandwich in half to make two separate traffic light sandwiches.
GREEN LIGHT! Enjoy your sandwich!

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