Eating takes on a whole new meaning with kids. I suppose this is true though with any given stage of life. For example: as a kid, you have a distaste for all things healthy preferring instead to eat peanut butter and jelly, cinnamon toast and sugared cereals whenever you can get your grubby little hands on them. I know I used to do my best to trade my tuna sandwich or carrot sticks for things like chocolate pudding, Fritos or Jell-o. Stuff the other kids brought and I was never allowed to have. Perhaps that’s a part of my dietary issues now, but that’s a whole other Oprah.
Experimenting with food combinations is another step towards culinary development. Like when I ate only peanut butter and pickle sandwiches all through sixth grade. What was I thinking??
For teens, candy, soda and other junk foods have much appeal, though different tastes can begin to develop. Tastes that include burgers, fries, milkshakes, movie theater popcorn and anything parent types don’t eat (at least in front of the kids). College brings an entirely different dimension of eating into play when, rather than asking for money from mom and dad, maxing out the gas card on mini mart delectables becomes a bridge into adulthood. Living on your own can sure make you think twice about spending that extra money on something you don’t even like if the tasty stuff is so much cheaper. Professional life improves habits, when eating salads and not touching the pizza in front of other women prevails so at least the impression that you care about your weight is obvious. Man that ice cream does taste good later on though while watching Letterman.
And then, one day, you find yourself living in suburbia, trying to make healthy eating choices and set a good example for the sticky little hands beating down the door to the pantry and trying to get at the cookies. Is this hypocrisy? Maturity? Irony? All of the above?
I find myself very irked when my kids throw ‘perfectly good food’ off their high chair trays. The floor became a giant plate when they were let down from their chairs, fascinated by and suddenly ravenous for what seems like tasty treats. Why?? Once when they were smaller, I gave up and just put their trays on the floor, which only served to egg them on. BIG MISTAKE. Then they started purposely tossing everything, telling me they were “all done” and then making a beeline for everything on the floor. You would think I learned that lesson after one of my sons made “raspberries” while eating yogurt. We laughed and took video because it was ‘just so cute!’ Until he started spitting at every meal. Sigh. Why can’t I just giggle and enjoy these moments? Oh, right. I’m supposed to set an example and teach them proper etiquette. I can just see it now – “Your son cannot play at our house anymore. He taught Billy how to string spaghetti through his nose. Oh, and, he threw vegetables on the floor.”
Each of my kids approaches food differently. One son is very picky and hates to get messy. The other one spits and throws (see above), and my daughter, well, she is often a complete mess. She is an artistic eater. Read: she paints her plate with any available, smear-able food. I’m talking total wardrobe change after every meal. Now I just undress her altogether before eating. I don’t so much mind the messy kids, it’s their job. But I’m so darn tired of cleaning up all the wasted, and might I add, healthy food I try to feed them. I’m just about ready to give them each a gas card and point them toward town.
This post was originally written on L.A. Moms Blog, July, 2009. Lexi also writes about life with triplets here.