Marie Antoinette pissed a lot of people off, when she supposedly responded to the issue of France’s starving population, with the phrase, ‘let them eat cake.’ A lot of historians now say, no such thing was said, but nevertheless she survives throughout history as the ‘B’ who didn’t give a hoot about her people dying of starvation.
Where is all this coming from you might ask? Well, I am currently in toddler food refusal hell with Jack, and last night if there was a piece of cake to slap down on his tray, I would have given to him. At least I know he would eat it, and not tearfully, angrily refuse it, while adding the dramatics of gagging and regurgitation. If the fussy 19- month- old- will not stop crying at a decibel that can shatter eardrums, let him eat cake!
I’m not sure when the culinary tables turned for my little tike, because when he started on pureed foods at 6 months, he ate everything under the sun; broccoli, peas, squash, chicken, pork, sweet potato, soup, and even plain avocado spread on toast. He was a hoover, and never questioned a single spoonful. Other moms even marveled at his eating habits, and I’m not going to lie, it made me feel really proud. The mommy progress ticker tape always running in my head, would get another check-mark every time someone commended Jack on his eating. Yay, I’m not a total failure!
Fast forward to the present, and I am embarrassed at how little he’ll eat, and how big a fuss he can put up when I offer him the most basic of foods, like soft, buttery, cubed potatoes. Most nights when supper is ready, as I walk toward his highchair, he is already violently turning his head away before he even sees what I’m about to offer. I know one thing, between dropping food on the floor, and platefuls of food not touched, the dog is extremely well fed these days. Our 85lb chocolate lab looks at me as if to say, ‘thanks for bringing this super awesome guy into the family.’
The kicker of the whole thing is that if a child’s dietary needs could be met by copious amounts of yogurt, goldfish crackers and bear paws, Jack would be at the top of the pack. He could literally be screaming with the fire of a thousand suns because he doesn’t want to eat a piece of chicken, and immediately go back to smiling at the sound of a crinkling wrapper that could be a sweet snack. If you want to see a mother’s blood reach boiling point, drop by our house any night around 5pm.
Before I go any further, I should whole-heartedly apologize, to any parent who owns a picky child, that I secretly judged before I?became a mom. How immature of me, to look at you, and think, my child isn’t going to be like that. You see, my ridiculous, naive, pre-Jack self thought I could put together a plan, that would make my baby bug proof. Only healthy food, perfect bedtime schedules and no TV; yes, that should make for the perfect kid prototype.
The part I find most funny now is that many parents, me at the top of list, are guilty of foolishly thinking that every habit or behaviour our children have or don’t have is completely controlled by us. We influence them yes, but make no mistake, our children are their own entities.
I can say with confidence, Jack’s aversion to mealtime food, did not come from me or my husband. We introduced solids at the recommended time, and did not shy away from anything, whatever we ate, he had some version of. But alas, here we are, red faced and frustrated 9 meals out of 10, fighting the urge to just give him cake and be done with it. I will admit that the food battle has shed light on one undeniable fact: The reason toddlers are so cute, is because it is literally impossible to stay frustrated, no matter how many bowls of food hit the floor.
Marie Antoinette got a bad rep for her comments, and perhaps rightly so, but I think I know what she was getting at. Cake is simple, it’s delicious and nobody would cry about getting a piece. Too bad for those pesky things like childhood obesity and diabetes. I was a bit conflicted realizing there’s no sweet moral to this blog, but maybe parents will take comfort in at least knowing, we’re all in the battle together.
Parenthood isn’t always like it comes off on Facebook and us Moms aren’t always basking in the glow of adorable little junior. Sometimes, no matter how much we love our wee ones, we’re dressed in full armour, prepared for battle. And don’t let their size deceive you; kids can best the strongest of challengers. So, 5pm is approaching, and I’ll keep fighting the good chicken and sweet potatoes fight. I’ll eventually win… Right?