Spoiler Alert: It still sucks.
I expected his picky eating to be a phase that he’d grow out of, as countless people assured me it would. I suppose there is still time for that to occur, since he’s only 2 ½ years old, but it seems like it never will. Especially when we are at kids’ birthday parties and the inevitable cheese pizza is served. Mine is the only kid who would rather eat a bag of Baked Snap Pea Crisps than that mozzarella-covered cardboard they often try to pass off as pizza.
|Mandatory Kids' Birthday Party Meal|
You might be thinking that it’s much better for him to eat baked vegetable snacks than greasy pizza, which is probably true health-wise. I often wonder about the social component of his pickiness. People have suggested that he’ll evolve when he is around other kids. Um, he’s sitting next to 20 other kids who are all eating pizza and he’s not. Must he go to Burning Man for a bigger crowd?
We are very lucky to have a happy, healthy boy who is consistently near the top of the growth chart, so I shouldn’t be complaining. But the frustration caused by his unwillingness to even taste certain foods is compounded by the fact that he frequently talks about them. Yes, my son is an E.T., an Eating Tease.
Sometimes Mrs. Dude or I will ask what he wants to eat, though we know it’s really a rhetorical question since he eats the same 5 things every day. Occasionally he’ll surprise us and say he wants pizza, for example, and immediately qualifies his request with “for real!” to add validity. So we make the pizza, put it in on his plate, and watch as once again he’d rather skip dinner than suffer through the horror of cheese baked on top of tomato sauce and dough. And every time this happens I feel like Charlie Brown when Lucy pulls the football. Good grief.
The Little Dude’s eating repertoire has been virtually the same for the last year and a half. He does have an affinity for breakfast food, but beyond that I’m running out of ideas. This is the same kid who ate Kraft Macaroni & Cheese for dinner EVERY NIGHT for more than a year, and that only ended because we stopped giving it to him every night. Now the great majority of his evening meals are anchored by (Nitrate-Free) Turkey Dogs, aka the only type of “meat” that he’ll consider eating.
There is one exception to his edict of not trying new foods, and that is if he determines that an item is a cookie, cake, candy or other type of sweet. He can hone in on a dry-looking Do-Si-Do from 20 yards away even though he’s never seen one before but the thought of a dinosaur-shaped chicken nugget is torturous. How he developed that sixth sense, I’ll never understand.
|Double-fisting vanilla cones|
People who know me well have suggested that this is my payback for behavior from 25-30 years ago. You see, I was a picky eater once, too. In fact, I ate the same lunch virtually every day from kindergarten through 6th grade: peanut butter & jelly. I’ve broadened my horizon since then, but even at my pickiest stage I ate at least a few other items. I think I can count every item the Little Dude eats on my fingers and toes. And that’s including both Original and Honey Nut Cheerios.
So what should we do? As a parent, this is incredibly frustrating on so many levels. We can’t go to a restaurant without packing a full meal, because the likelihood of him eating something from the menu is almost nil. Unless they serve hotdogs. And even then, he won’t eat the French fries or carrots served with it. He’d much rather eat a half-dozen Trader Joes rice cakes. Maybe he has the right idea after all.
How have you dealt with a picky eater?