by Aimee Carson
There is a certain amount of pressure you endure when you’re a mother and a pediatrician. Professionally, my patients ask for advice on a whole range of topics, and health issues constitute just a small proportion of their questions. How do you deal with temper tantrums? What should be the daily limit on electronics/online time? Potty training, academic problems, teaching a teen to drive—you name it, and I’ve been asked. I just wish I had all the answers!
Take the feeding dilemma . . . (What? It’s not a dilemma at your house?!?)
When it comes to picky eaters, I’m just as helpless as the rest of you. One of my children is a particularly difficult. As a toddler she ate everything. And in my foolish younger days I thought it was a reflection of my stellar parenting skills. Oh, the hubris! And then the Powers That Be decided to teach me a lesson, and when she turned three she became the pickiest of the picky. So picky in fact, while visiting China to adopt daughter #2, we had a devil of a time finding Western food that seven-year-old daughter #1 would eat. Amazingly enough, despite everything we tried, she went five days without eating.
Fortunately, we finally found a restaurant that would serve spaghetti noodles minus the sauce. Hurray, we were saved! My father, a retired pediatrician, always told me my kids would eat when they got hungry enough. When we got home from our exhausting overseas trip, I shared the story with him. And what did I get in response? A totally unimpressed “She would have been hungry enough by the end of the week” comment. Sheesh, as the father of five he really has NO sympathy.
So, in honor of all those suffering parents dealing with eating dilemmas, here are my top five signs you have a picky eater:
5) Your family visits two different drive-thrus for one meal.
4) The only one getting a well-balanced meal at the dinner table is your dog.
3) On vacation, while searching for a restaurant that meets the ungodly, Olympic-sized needs of your family, you finally find one that will serve individual pizzas. Unfortunately, when it’s delivered, you know your child won’t eat it. Not because there are anchovies or mushrooms or any other variety of hated toppings. No, your child won’t eat it because the flecks of dried oregano in the sauce are too large ie VISIBLE to the naked eye. That’s right, all green things are despised so vehemently even the tiniest speck is inedible.
2) For the least picky eaters, you scrape off the onion and cheese or whatnot to satisfy their gustatory requirements. The pickiest won’t touch anything if a hated ingredient has come within a twenty mile radius of his/her utensil/plate.
And here is my number one sign you are the parent of a picky eater (drum roll please):
1) Instead of fantasizing about Hollywood’s latest leading man, the hottest rock star, or even that good-looking guy sitting next to you at Starbucks, you eye the potbellied, short-order cook at your local diner with a gleam in your eye . . .
So, is planning dinner a painful experience in your home? Does it require the coordinated attack strategies of a wartime general? Please, make me feel better by sharing your horror stories.