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Mommy, I ate my vegetables...psych! (Or, why won’t my kid eat?)

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Reel Mama: Mommy, I ate my vegetables...psych! (Or, why won’t my kid eat?)

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Mommy, I ate my vegetables...psych! (Or, why won’t my kid eat?)

If you have experience with a toddler, maybe she’s recently tried to trick you into believing she’s eaten her meal when in fact she’s done nothing of the kind.  Mine will go to unbelievable lengths to do just this.  Last night my two-year-old artistically arranged the broccoli shrapnel left over from playing with her food, and she almost convinced me that she’d actually put some in her mouth.  No such luck, upon closer examination.  But an impressive sleight of hand on my daughter’s part. In fact, Leilani has developed some very clever strategies to avoid actual eating.  These include:
The hold and drop:  Have you ever tried to give your dog a pill that’s for his own good by hiding it in his food, only to find that after wolfing down his meal, he holds the pill under his tongue waiting for the right opportunity to spit it out in the corner unnoticed by you?  This is my daughter’s favorite strategy with any food that has greater nutritional value than fictitious fruit (gelatinous pellets made of high fructose corn syrup depicting fictitious characters).  Whether it’s a deviled egg or a winter stew vegetable medley, her plan is to hold it in her mouth until she’s standing over the carpet that’s most difficult to clean, and at that time, she decides to part ways with the mouthful, letting the food fall where it may.  I’ll discover it hours, perhaps days later.  Oh joy.  The strategy seems to be a particular favorite with food that stains permanently, like tomato sauce.
The lick: My daughter hopes that the mere act of passing her tongue over the food will convince me that she has actually eaten it.  Licking the fake cheese powder off flavor-blasted Goldfish does not count as a meal.  She learned this one after pulling apart an Oreo cookie and licking the filling.  A classic move for a cookie sandwich, but a bit distressing when it comes to an entire meal.   
And finally, the fake chew: This is when she purses her lips and clucks her tongue as if feeding a pretend finger sandwich to a lucky invitee at one of her very exclusive high teas (her dolls wait for hours to get in, and there’s even a bouncer, a giant stuffed unicorn).  At dinner the asparagus spear is held aloft, the chomping noise is made, and then the vegetable is dropped right back on the plate.  She actually looks at me and smiles while doing this, as if I’ll congratulate her for pulling off a convincing performance. 
I used to believe that sleep problems were the most stressful part of parenting.  Now I know better.  It’s got to be the food.  
For now a dash of imagination, a plateful of fairy dust lighter than air, and a cup of dreams seem to be all the nourishment she needs.  But I will be very relieved the first time she cleans her plate, for real.


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