One of my childhood favorite book characters, and now a favorite of my first grader, is Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle. Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle is a fanciful widow, who lives in an upside down house and charms the neighborhood children with creative games, parties and her general love of life and adventure. For the parents, she is priceless in terms of her magical cures for problematic children suffering from ailments such as The-Never-Want-To-Go-To-Bedders to The Tattletale. I need her magic now, to give me a Picky-Eater Cure.
In one of the books of the series, the Picky-Eater Cure is a packet of crystals that the parents sprinkle onto food, turning it into white noodles, every time. The idea being that after eating noodles for every meal for days in a row, the child will want to try new foods. Well, Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle, this is not working in my casa. My Picky-Eater is accomplishing one goal: to drive his mother slowly insane. He won’t try new foods yet he is bored and “fired out” (his version of burned out) on the few foods he will consume.
Adding to this is that a necessary medication he takes has the unwelcome side effect of appetite suppression. It’s a hard fight, keeping my lean boy from becoming a slimmer version of himself. Last week, he wouldn’t refuse a bacon & egg taco, and so I found myself at my comal in the mornings, turning a hot tortilla so that it would be perfectly golden brown in spots. He’s only eaten a breakfast taco once this week, predictably fired out on them.
Breakfast is hugely important to a child’s day, since research shows that hungry kids have more problems concentrating on their school day. For my son, it’s doubly important, as his lunch is often returned virtually untouched. My problem is finding a food that he’ll happily eat, first thing in the morning. Like me, he doesn’t feel hunger until he’s been awake a few hours. Unfortunately, he doesn’t wake up more than an hour before school time.
I’m certain there are other parents out there who deal with a child that exists on milk and air, but sometimes I feel very alone. And resorting to the foods he will pounce on (cheese pizza, sausage pizza, chicken tenders, cheeseburgers, french fries) leaves me knowing I’m not providing very good nutrition. Yes, I sneak in vegetarian “chicken” patties from time to time, and he loves a good steak, but it’s not enough. He will eat fruits, but his only veggies are raw carrots and corn on the cob. We’re religious with the multi-vitamins, as you can imagine.
Unlike other children, he has no use for mashed potatoes, rice, spaghetti and sauce, soup, hot dogs, fish sticks and the like. He’ll eat plain noodles if we serve spaghetti. If I give him mac & cheese, it better not be a delicious from-scratch dish. If it isn’t Kraft, it isn’t mac to him. We’ve tried the “eat or go to bed hungry” discipline and discovered he is actually more stubborn than either of us. (Side note: this is directly related to my mother’s curse many years ago when she vowed that one day I’d have a child three times worse than I was). It’s a battle, but I’m not throwing up the white flag yet.
I continue to offer new foods, or foods he’s refused in the past. I’m starting to wonder about having dinner with a rotating schedule of his friends, so that my only child can see that other kids eat a green bean and don’t instantly die. I poll my friends for advice, and try the ones that seem like they may make a difference. If you have any tips, I’d be grateful. Please leave them in the comments.