Sunday, September 21, 2008

Hold the carrots

Miracles really do happen.

I know this because yesterday I was holding a bag of mini carrots. Out of the blue, my middle child, who has never so much as touched a carrot, pointed to them and said: “Those are good carrots.”

Trying to act nonchalant, I asked him if he would like to try one. And this is where it gets crazy. He said, “Yes.”

I handed him a carrot, and he took it from me.

He took a bite of the carrot.

Unfortunately, he didn’t like it.


This is a kid who hasn’t tried anything new since he entered a “picky stage” at around 18 months. It's normal at this age, our pediatrician assured us. He'll outgrow it soon.

He's four now.

Once, about a year ago, we thought he was going to try some pizza. He asked for a slice, and I put it on his plate. Then I asked if he was going to eat it and he said, “No.”

That’s right, he doesn’t like pizza. He doesn’t like mac ‘n’ cheese, peanut butter, hot dogs, pasta, chicken nuggets or any of the usual foods picky eaters are supposed to live on. He has his own short list of approved foods, which you can view by clicking here, if you are curious or just wondering how he survives. He does eat, and in fact is roughly the size of a six-year-old. The selection is just very limited.

I made sure to compliment my son for trying a new food, and then I offered him a banana, which is his go-to item from the fruits and vegetables group.

As he munched on his banana, I sat back and reflected on the miraculous event. My husband and I have no powers of persuasion when it comes to getting the kid to try something new. No amount of bribery, incentives, or threats has ever gotten us anywhere.

The debate will continue about whether picky eaters are born or made. I’ll continue to look back trying to figure out where I went wrong, occasionally deriding myself for allowing my child to be spoiled and finicky in a world where so many children would rejoice at a bowl of plain rice.

Yet somehow I’ve never quite been able to send him to bed hungry just because he wouldn’t eat the family meal. So I guess I’ll just keep doing what I’m doing, offering up the healthy food, and standing there in his line of vision holding the bag of carrots, broccoli, or apples. Because at some point he might just decide they look good enough to eat.


Helen E.M. Wright said...

Nice one!! If he's worries!

My son is 4.5 and seems to be getting out of that picky stage that he started about 2 years a go. One great thing...he can't stand processed food!

I have a friend who makes her children try everything 3 times, each time they have to take 3 bites. After that time if they don't like it, they have really tried it!

Meaghan said...

Have you tried covering the carrots in chocolate sauce?*

*Kidding, just kidding.

Ruth said...

Helen, good to hear that there is hope for my picky guy.
And Meaghan, I would totally try that, but he'd just lick off the chocolate sauce!

KayakGirl said...

Try not to despair Ruth! I was a picky eater too. I hated pizza, all vegetables and most fruits except applesauce. I refused to eat my school lunch because I never liked any of it and finally the doctor told my mom she had to pack my lunch. This was after I'd missed approximately half my first grade year since I was constantly sick. I think from that point on she stopped fighting me and just let me eat whatever I would eat. I also ate a lot of Flinstone vitamins in those years. And I'm still picky, but in a totally different way. Now I hate fried foods, white bread, donuts, sweets..all that stuff I lived on when I was a kid. I am not a parent, but I don't recommend the whole "you'll sit at the table until you eat that" tactic...I had no problem sitting at the table until bedtime when I was a kid. I gradually added a few new things to my diet and I still do. I hated all 'hot liquids' (soup, tea, etc) until I turned 30. I just started eating cucumbers last year.

KayakGirl said...

PS good luck and hang in there!!!