Saturday, 11 April 2015

Failing to take my own advice

It turns out that writing things down doesn't make them true. Nor does publishing them for the world to read. In fact, it turns out that I'm pretty useless at listening to my own marvellous pearls of wisdom. I hope you lot are doing better at paying attention to the things I have to say than I am.

First up, food. I was really quite convincing on the subject of not worrying too much about what your child is eating. So how is that twice in the last fortnight I've had to inform LittleBear that I'm going upstairs while he eats as I'm sick of his fuss about his dinner? Why did BigBear have to stand behind my chair rubbing my shoulders at lunchtime today as I glared, clench-toothed and steely-eyed into the garden to avoid making eye-contact with LittleBear? Why does it make me so bloody cross that he's refusing to eat sausages? Sausages! Well, this time it was sausages, but it's also fish-fingers, and beans, and avocado, and red pepper, and tomatoes, and pears, and pain-au-chocolat, and strawberry yoghurt... need I go on? You're getting the idea aren't you?

Basically he's now rejecting what feels like about 50% of his previously-favourite foods. In truth it's more like 10% of his previously-favourite foods, but it feels worse, because they were my fall-back, dependable, at-least-he-eats-something-normal foods. The ones that you could rely on feeding him at someone else's house, or if we (God forbid) actually managed to go out somewhere with him. I feel somewhat abashed trying to explain to Friends And Relations that what LittleBear would really like for dinner is pasta with cauliflower, cabbage and peas. No, no sauce thank you. No, just boiled veg on pasta, with butter. It's no wonder I end up taking a bag full of BearFood to GrandmaBear and GrandadBear's house. Normal people don't stock their houses with the food that LittleBear wants to eat. And at the current rate of progress of things being rejected, who knows how long the remaining favourites will last either.


... I'm irked because I feel embarrassed by the oddity of his food habits.

... I'm irked because now I have to find other things to feed him, or let him subsist on cheese sandwiches. As long as it's cheese that more or less tastes of butter. You don't want any of that crazy "flavour" nonsense.

... I'm irked because I'd promised myself we'd take a break from sausages, let LittleBear forget that he'd gone off them, and come back to them in a few weeks. But he asked for sausages today, so I bought them.

... I'm irked because LittleBear asked for the sausages and then made a fuss about eating them. We turned into MeanBears and wouldn't let him have anything else until he'd eaten his single sausage. He ate half and then declared he was full up.

... I'm irked because I'd promised myself I wouldn't be a food tyrant, that I'd be chilled out and laid back and let LittleBear decide what he'd eat from what was presented to him and not go all Victorian-Nanny on him and insist on cleared plates no matter what repulsive food was on them. And I'm doing exactly the opposite of what I wanted to do, which makes me cross with myself.

... I'm irked because I'm jealous of all those parents I see posting on facebook of their toddler tucking into curry, or salami, or any damn food with a sauce, or a flavour, or any trace of normality to it.

... I'm irked because I really, really, really hate going to the effort of cooking something for someone (anyone) who then refuses to eat it, not because they don't like it, or they're allergic to it, but because they're just being picky. You think I'm being unreasonable don't you? Maybe he really doesn't like sausages now? Well explain why he had two helpings of sausage and mash at nursery this week. Go on, talk your way out of that one. Or how about the fact that he ate all his sausages when he had them with GrandmaBear and GrandadBear? Got an answer now have you? He's just doing it to wind me up. And I fear that he now does it because I rise to it. Another great parenting skill mastered. I'm going to be just awesome at this once LittleBear becomes TeenageBear.

Now that we've removed another tranche of accepted foodstuffs from LittleBear's repertoire, I'm also even more convinced than I was before that he'll never eat anything normal, and I'll end up with one of those children who ends up having a Channel 5 documentary made about them because they only eat food the same colour as their socks. And thus I neatly sidestep one of the three things I learnt about having a baby. There were only three, and already I've forgotten to pay attention to one of them. And it wasn't the one about the washing machine. No, you're bright people, you've spotted it, I'm completely overlooking the fact that this is just a phase. LittleBear isn't really going to survive on cheese sandwiches forever. Maybe for a year or two. Or three. This too shall pass.

And now we all realise that I haven't just forgotten to pay attention to one of my three rules, but another one as well. No, it's still not the one about the washing machine. I should just get on with what's working and ignore other people. Who cares if Tarquin is eating whole roast garlic bulbs, or Moebius simply loves chorizo frittata, or Anastasia's favourite snack is devils on horseback? My LittleBear is growing and thriving and laughing and loving and beautiful and wonderful, and he's doing it all on his own esoteric mix of foods, that may or may not include sausages. It works for him, and that should be enough for me.

And I'm not going to cry about it. Or not much.

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