I originally wrote this piece in 2007 when my daughter, Elle, was two years old. It’s one of my favorites, and I thought I’d share it with my new audience. Happy reading!
Once upon a time, two foodies met and fell in love. They celebrated milestones in fabulous restaurants and cooked together. They planned their modest wedding around a sumptuous reception and towering wedding cake. They journeyed to Paris for their honeymoon and ate their way around the City of Lights (they also walked a lot, too.) And through it all, they dreamed of the future, a future full of little foodie children that would grow up loving food like they did. These children would never eat canned vegetables or cowboy stew (don’t ask.) They would love their veggies and foods prepared in all the ways of the world, because their fabulous parents would expose them to wonderful things. And of course, after all of this amazing (and balanced) eating, the Foodie family would go out and be active and fit and trim and fabulous, and they would be happy and have clear skin.
And then, Elliette Savannah Fehr was born.
Elliette is our beautiful, enchanting girl, now 2 1/2 years old. And guess what? She’s not a foodie.
We know she’s ours. Jeremiah saw them pull her out, and she has my dad’s eyes and her dad’s chin. She can be grumpy and stubborn, too – further evidence that she’s ours. But where food is concerned, we have serious doubts.
It all began when she was a baby. Commensurate with the rosy picture that I had of motherhood and foodie parenthood, I planned to breastfeed. It was a bona fide disaster. Since I’m a buxom girl, Elle had a heck of a time latching on, and my milk production never increased. At her 2 week check up when she hadn’t gained back to her birth weight, her pediatrician said we needed to supplement with formula. I didn’t see the point in banging my head (or what have you) against a wall when I was formula-feeding anyway, so I discontinued breastfeeding. The problem was, Elle wasn’t crazy about the formula, and never really took all that she needed. It wasn’t until I introduced whole milk that she really started drinking milk well.
So, jump forward to table food. Again, we had fantasies that she would “eat just what we ate.” Perhaps mashed up or blended, perhaps a little less seasoned – but table food. No dice. We ended up buying all of the premade baby food that I swore I would never buy.
We introduced her to our favorites. First on the list – peaches! She hated them.
Jump forward to present. Elle is a finicky two-year old. I can count the vegetables that she’ll eat on one hand: broccoli (surprisingly), corn, pureed cauliflower (think fake mashed potatoes), sweet potato fries (baked or fried), tomato sauce. For fruits, there are bananas, strawberries, blueberries, grapes. She’ll lick an apple, but she won’t eat it. I’m serious. But there are also unpredictabilities about her favorites…for instance, she won’t often eat a favorite two days in a row. Surprisingly, she loves things you wouldn’t expect – last nite, she ate marinated flank steak. She also loves sausage of ANY kind. I ask you, what picky kid do you know eats bratwurst?
We’ve had to lower our expectations. We’ve had to expand our patience. This little person is teaching us some good – and hard – life lessons.
On the up side, Elle is not a big fan of chicken fingers or nuggets, and french fries don’t get a lot of attention, either. She does like pepperoni pizza, and I’m okay with that. Our rule of thumb: keep exposing her to different things, and don’t freak out when she doesn’t like something.
So, the next time you are tempted to judge a family who brings their two-year old’s meal with them, remember what you’ve read here.
I’m off to make cheesy eggs and toast for a hungry little person.
Update: Elle is now an extremely healthy, if somewhat slender, five-year old. She has increased her spectrum of foods, and we no longer despair that somehow she was switched at birth. She has also been joined by Jake, who, at the time of this writing, has never refused any food. Ever. (Well, except jarred baby food. Looks like we may have a foodie this go ’round.)