When I was a kid, I was a very picky eater. I became less so when I went off to college and wanted to impress my friends, who didn’t think it was cool to be a picky eater, but I’m still not a fan of certain foods, like pot pie. I feel like pot pie is where you take perfectly lovely meat and/or vegetables and you coat them in goo made of who knows what and then top the whole thing with a pie crust, which also isn’t my favorite food to eat. (Although, it’s one of my favorite foods to make–rolling out a pie crust is so soothing to me. I know, I’m odd.) One time when I was little, my mom made pot pie, and as usual I refused to eat it, so my parents told me I had to sit in front of that pot pie until I ate it. I sat there for probably 2 hours, until it was bedtime, at which point they sent me to bed without offering any other food. I didn’t care if I was hungry, that didn’t matter to me. What mattered to me was that I was not going to eat that pot pie. And I didn’t.
After that, my mom didn’t serve pot pie very often, because she knew I wasn’t going to eat it. She’d try to get me to eat foods I didn’t like, but if I refused, she’d just make sure there was something on the plate I’d eat. In short, she adapted her meal choices in part to suit her picky eater. Nowadays, that’s frowned upon by the Parent Education Industrial Complex. They say to just keep offering that food over and over again because eventually that kid will eat it. Apparently the Parent Education Industrial Complex doesn’t know what stubborn looks like. If my mom had offered me pot pie 1000 times I still would have said no to it. In hindsight, I think my mom made the wise choice to feed me things I would eat, so that I could grow, rather than watching me not eat every night. I was literally that stubborn. I needed to come to the idea of eating outside my comfort zone in my own time and in my own way. And, I’ve never struggled with obesity or eating disorders, so, I’m pretty sure she made the right choice for me.
The Boy is a picky eater too. I think he may even be pickier than I was, because he won’t eat chicken nuggets anymore. He wasn’t always a picky eater–when he was 2, he’d eat Indian food and jambalaya and all kinds of stuff. Now, it’s easier to tell people what he will eat instead of what he won’t because it’s a shorter list. I tend to do what my mom did and offer foods not on his “I will eat that” list, but when he refuses, I provide something we know he’ll eat. Especially now that he’s on ADHD meds that can affect his appetite and slow his growth.
I feel like I’m going to be judged for that, because it’s not what the experts recommend, and I’m sure people will say “He’s never going to learn to like other foods if you only feed him stuff he likes.” In fact, I have friends who brag about the foods their kids will eat that I know The Boy would adamantly refuse to try. But then I remember, parenting isn’t a competition. And I also remember what it felt like to be that kid who didn’t want to eat the pot pie with the weird goo in it (Mom, I’m sorry I keep calling it goo as though you’re a bad chef–I’m sure it was a lovely gravy to anyone who isn’t so picky!), and wishing I could just have food that didn’t weird me out, and being excited to eat when my mom made foods I did like. I guess I just feel like maybe there isn’t one right way to approach the complex relationship that kids have with food in our society. Because every kid is different, and some kids, like me, are never going to eat pot pie, and that’s OK.