Monday, March 17, 2008

Children's Books in a Bowl

Until recently, Lucia was a good sport about eating food. There were certain foods she couldn’t have, like citrus fruits and apple-juice, but for the most part, she’d eat what we gave her and enjoy it. When she entered kindergarten, that all changed. She came home with a whine in her voice and the phrase, “I don’t liiiiiiiike it.”

Once, I asked her not to be a pill. “What’s a pill?” she asked.

“A pill is someone who says, ‘I don’t liiiiiiiike it,' when you set out food," I said.

“Is Bluebell a pill?” she asked. Bluebell is one of Lucia’s more opinionated classmates.

“A-ha,” I thought. “Now I know where she gets it.”

Last week, Lucia told us once again that she didn’t like soup. I tossed some cheddar bunnies into her butternut squash soup and said, “You don’t have to like it. You just have to eat a few bites. Here, this bite is Peter Rabbit.” She ate the spoonful of soup with a cheddar bunny floating in it. “Now, here’s Flopsy… here’s Mopsy… here’s Cottontail… and this, my dear, is Jemimah Puddle-Duck….” I went through the pantheon of Beatrix Potter characters until the soup was all gone. Then, Lucia asked for more soup.

I thought that night was a fluke. However, we’ve had a few more meals in which foods she’d claimed she didn’t like were broken down bite by bite into children’s book characters. Now, she names the characters herself. She devoured last night’s curry and asked for more. As I cleared up the dishes, I overheard her say, "Here's Ginger, here's the little girl, here's the naughty kitty, and this, my dear, is Mog."

Take that, Bluebell!


Lone Star Ma said...

May it long last.

Yorkshire Pudding said...

We never let our children display any faddish resistance to particular foods and we never fed them kiddies' meals. They always ate what we ate. However, our nineteen year old daughter somehow developed an aversion to mushrooms and this continues to this day. Every time I cook spaghetti bolognaise, I always put a slice of fried mushroom on top of her helping - I'm mean.
that way.
PS Continuing to be mean I have tagged you but I will understand entirely if you ignore it - you have probably done this one before anyway.

Lone Star Ma said...

Some people have compliant children, YP - others, like Alkelda and I, have smart ones(:

jules said...

Brilliant. Somehow, I don't think it'd work for even Piper, who is so devastatingly picky, but I can try.

HipWriterMama said...

This is a great idea! Thanks for sharing this.

Alkelda the Gleeful said...

LSM: Yes! It was a lucky break.

YP: Food was a big issue in my household growing up, and I was determined that it wouldn't be a big issue when I had a child of my own. What it means is that during rough spots, the parents have to force ourselves to let things go, but not offer alternatives. Fortunately, my daughter has been in a high percentile and I've never worried about her losing weight from missing a meal.

LSM: Ha ha ha! I am guessing that YP's children probably have a different take on things.

Jules: It really was a lucky break. I was grasping at straws, and was gobsmacked when it actually worked.

HWM: You're welcome!

Elaine Magliaro said...


Great story! I like your use of psychology on your picky eater. I was a truly finicky eater when I was a child.

Here's a book I recommend reading to your daughter--if you haven't already: I WILL NEVER NOT EVER EAT A TOMATO by Lauren Child. It's a humorous story in which an older sister tricks her younger sister into eating foods she claims she would never eat. The book has wonderful mixed media illustrations done by the author.

adrienne said...

I've always liked Frances's mother's approach to this problem in Bread and Jam for Frances, although I'm not sure I'd actually do such a thing myself. Makes for a thoroughly satisfying read, though.

Is it just me who thinks that its really funny that kids enjoy eating depictions of characters they love?

Alkelda the Gleeful said...

Elaine: Thanks! The thing is, I seriously wonder if the tactic would have worked on a truly picky eater. Lucia is not so much picky as easily impressed by her classmates. I wish it would work that they'd be easily impressed by her (usually) good eating habits, but that's not the way it works. I remember mentally rolling my eyes whenever I heard adults tell us to be "good examples" to the other children. And yet, I've found those same words rolling right out of my mouth.

Adrienne: Regarding children enjoying eating depictions of characters they love, I wondered if anyone was going to notice that and comment upon it. I'm a big fan of Bread and Jam for Frances. The lunch Frances unpacks at the end of the story is so satisfying. Every now and then, my mother would be inspired by Frances' mother and pack cunning little packages of food in my lunch.

Lone Star Ma said...

Your mother apparently rocked.

adrienne said...

Seriously about your mother rocking.

I went through about a six-month phase when I was in second grade where I would only read Frances books over and over and over.

Noodle said...

Very clever!

My children will happily eat just about any type of berry because of Jamberry. :)