Based on the look she is giving me, which is a mixture between a sneer and revulsion, you would think that the food on my daughter’s plate was made up of partially cooked fecal matter. It’s not. It is macaroni and cheese. “Dis will make me so sick!” she declares holding her head in her hands.
She starts sobbing. “I fink I will be too sick.” Then, she starts making gagging sounds.
I’m OK with protests and outraged accusations that I’m trying to poison her with my homemade macaroni and cheese. But I draw the line at gagging noises. So, into timeout she goes. All I have to do is point and she goes without a fuss. Lately, my daughter spends the majority of meal time oscillating between her dinner and the little stool in the corner of the dining room. I think Stockholm syndrome is setting in.
When she comes back she asks for a cheese stick and a cracker. She asks for a banana or gummy snacks, anything it seems than to eat the cheddar cheese and whole wheat pasta that lies before her. I don’t negotiate with 2-year-olds or terrorists. And some days, they are one in the same. Tonight, with ice cream as a motivator, she chokes down half of her food in between huge swallows of milk.
But other nights we aren’t so lucky. Other nights, she declares everything will make her sick and “garbly garbly” and that she’d rather go without a cookie than choke down a bite of lasagna. I admire her strong moral convictions over the evils of lasagna, if nothing else.
My mom tells me to make her special food. Advice on the Internet says if I speak to her kindly and let her help me make dinner, she suddenly will eat everything put before her and ask for seconds. I read a book that said I brought all of this on myself by giving her rice cereal as an infant instead of steel-cut oats. My neighbor suggests a gluten allergy. Another Internet search reveals that perhaps my delicate flower turning her nose up at macaroni (which she devoured last week) has a problem with texture. I kindly would like to say that is all complete and utter partially cooked fecal matter.
The overwhelming dearth of information that parents have at their fingertips gives them the illusion of control. And that somehow, if your child becomes a demanding little fiend, it’s all the fault of GMOs or the fact that you didn’t breastfeed past 9 months old.
But the reality is, toddlers are little wackos. You know what else makes my daughter feel sick and “garbly garbly”? Putting away her princess dolls and wearing pants. So, gluten be damned. That macaroni is all she gets. And after she goes to bed, I’m eating all the ice cream.
Lyz Lenz is a writer, mother of two and hater of pants. Email her at email@example.com or find her writing at LyzLenz.com.