I have a confession. I feel like a bad mother even uttering the words. I feel like a culinary failure. I feel like I am failing my children in being their personal nutritionist.
My boy will not eat fruit.
Oh, the horror. Shocking, I know. Okay, he eats every vegetable that I put on his green plastic plate, so long as its properly seasoned and cooked to tender perfection... which is always, duh. He gets down with the ever so occasional banana and I feel like I've won a war. I know he's a healthy baby, have you seen him? My phone line is already busy with recruiters scouting him for linebacker. Seriously, he's a big kid. A large individual. A (very) healthy baby. But, no fruit? Come on. Fruit was my reliable snack when Reed was this age. But Beckett? Hell to the NO. I am ashamed to say it but I have even tried peeling his grapes. That is shameful mothering, that is performing a service that I have guffawed about in the past. "What? That mama did what for twenty minutes before she served her baby a bowl of grapes? Is she insane or just miserably bored?" The child still spit out his perfectly peeled grape. So, I resorted to feeding him his fruit serving in smoothie form, which he slurped up every time. I felt a small sense of accomplishment but still felt like I was masking something that was better left untampered and NOT teaching him to appreciate the taste and texture of a peak-season strawberry and therefore sentencing my son to a life of unhealthy habits and culinary pickiness, which would send me reeling.
When Reed began her exploration of table foods two years ago, I decided I was not a short order cook. Yes, I love to cook but no, I will not make four entrees for four people. I really believe it is the only option if you want to avoid raising a child who eats chicken nuggets, and little else. If you don't like tomatoes and I make slow roasted tomatoes, you can eat the fish and salad instead. But, I assure you - I will keep bringing tomatoes to the table and one day, maybe you're incredibly famished, or maybe you missed your nap and are a little delusional, or maybe you're just feeling all kinds of open-minded and maybe you'll try one and maybe, just maybe, you'll like it. And eat another. But, if I give up and never serve tomatoes, you would never have that opportunity. And, I feel that is a great disservice to our children. Here's the deal, eat what I serve or, well, I suppose that's kind of the only option. Ick, sounds meaner in writing than it does at the dinner table. Promise. I just can't stomach the thought of sending a picky eater (read: unhealthy eater) out into the world. There are already enough of them.
People are amazed when they see my children's diets. They eat far better and much more varied than most adults and I am proud of that. Or, Errrr, I was. Until Beckett decided he was a member of the anti-fruit committee and rejected every piece of fruit ever. While my other child could survive on fruit alone. So we continued with the smoothies. I made lunches and put sliced nectarines on Reed's plate and one (always at least one, in hopes) on Beckett's. Then I read this post, from an uber cool mama. Ummm, yeah... her baby is stealing her fruit specific produce. Thieving! Hijacking! Forget the peeling and the chopping and the blending and the plating and the serving, he's tearing at the grocery bags seconds after his mama returns from the store, bypassing chips I'm sure, and gnawing happily (and cutely) on a peach. Oh, the jealousy turned me all kinds of red.
And then today,
without any prodding
or other adult coaxing, prompting or intervention of any kind
his sister gave him half her grapes
and I walked away to find a sponge to clean up the grapes he would spit out or smash or throw.
Except, today was different.
Today was that day.
I came back to this...
and, when he was finished he held up the grapeless green stem and slurred, "awwwwwwll gaaaaaaahhhhn," and went on his way in search of more. I tried not to smother him with kisses and relief.