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Let's Panic: The Book!

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How to Endure and Possibly Triumph Over the Adorable Tyrant
who Will Ruin Your Body, Destroy Your Life, Liquefy Your Brain,
and Finally Turn You
into a Worthwhile
Human Being.

Written by Alice Bradley and Eden Kennedy

Some Books
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Sleep Is
For The Weak

Chicago Review Press

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Let's Panic

The site that inspired the book!

At LET'S PANIC ABOUT BABIES, Eden Kennedy and I share our hard-won wisdom and tell you exactly what to think and feel and do, whether you're about to have a baby or already did and don't know what to do with it.

Lets-Panic.com → 

« Wow. | Main | Six foot, seven foot, eight foot, bunch! »
Wednesday
Jan112006

Speaking of bananas...

My son eats three foods. And this is making me insane.

Okay, maybe a little more than three. Here’s the list. Anyone who’s not a parent is signing off right abouuut… now, so without shame I can show the rest of you…

Everything My Son Will Ingest:

Milk and soy milk

Cereal

Oatmeal

Muffins

Yogurt

Blueberries

American cheese

Macaroni and cheese

Ricotta cheese with pasta (but only certain shapes, and those rules change all the time)

Ravioli (sometimes, and you will never know when

Applesauce

Raisins

Hummus (when he’s feeling generous)

All forms of pudding

Ice cream (duh), cookies (dar)

And that’s it! And don’t think I’m forgetting something. “Surely pizza!” you might say, but no, not pizza. “What about bagels? Every kid loves bagels!” Not my kid. Shut up.

I know this is a control thing. I know if I make a big deal, or any kind of deal, over this, it’s only going to get worse. I know many kids go through this. I know he’ll grow out of it, someday, maybe. But right now it makes me nuts at just about every meal. Okay, not breakfast. Breakfast is okay. And for lunch, I’ve just given up—I hand him his two containers of yogurt and I lie down on the ground until he calls for me. So really it’s just dinner.

Last year at Thanksgiving I broke down in tears because he wouldn’t consider a single food. Not a cranberry, not a single chunk of yam. Turkey? HAHAHAHAHA. At some point during his second year he fixated on macaroni and cheese as the Ideal Dinner, and this festive evening was no different. So my sister said, “Just give him macaroni and cheese every night. He’ll get sick of it.”

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHHHhhahhhhhah. Heh. Hmm.

So here we are, over one year later. Every night, either Annie or Amy provides him with his dinner. (I have tried making it myself, but homemade macaroni and cheese was deemed the worst crime any mother could commit.) For a while he would enjoy peas or green beans with it, but no more will he even tolerate the sight of the green horrors. Such an atrocity cannot even remain on his plate.

And fruit! Oh, how he used to love fruit! Clementines and mango and bananas and apples and everything else! Kid liked fruit!

Even a few weeks ago, he would request apples and bananas. Request them! No more. These days, fruit is of the devil. Fruit will not be tolerated. Don’t even think about it, with the fruit. Except blueberries, which are currently $45 a pint. I’m not buying them. Or applesauce, and is that even really a fruit? When a fruit has been sauced, may we still call it fruit?

His pediatrician recommended that we cease commenting on his eating, but that we also make sure that we’re eating well in his presence. Somehow being around a variety of foods, even if he’s not ingesting them, will have an effect. But I do! I do that! She also stressed the importance of the family dinner, and we can’t seem to manage that because my husband for some reason can’t come home at a reasonable hour even when he leaves home early and that’s an entirely different topic that’s making me want to cry every day, but as for me, I eat so well! (At least as far as he knows).

He’ll watch me eating, he’ll cook with me, he’ll smell the food we’re cooking or I’m eating and he’ll exclaim over the wonderfulness of the smells, and like a fool I begin to hope. I let myself believe that maybe he’s interested, that maybe he wants to (I can barely write it) taste something.

And then my mouth starts to open and my brain is screaming SHUT UP SHUT UP DON’T EVEN SAY IT, but I do! Because I’m not smart! I say, “You want a taste?” and then it’s all over. I might as well have suggested that I whip out the kitchen shears and snip off his tongue. He clamps his mouth shut and presses both fists over his mouth and emits the worst sound ever made, a sound I can’t even describe except it makes me want to scoop out my eardrums with a grapefruit spoon rather than hear it for one moment longer.

Everything I read, everything I hear, is telling me to LEAVE HIM ALONE, but I have such a hard time LEAVING HIM ALONE. I don’t even worry that much about the nutritional challenges of his limited diet; we indulge often in smoothies that I pack with all manner of supplementary materials, and/or muffins that are crammed with vegetables and exotic grains. I know he’s getting what he needs. What kills me is that we can’t just eat the same damn dinner. That I can’t share with him food that I know he would like if he would even have a tiny bite. That going to a restaurant is a near impossibility. He won’t even eat the foods that are bad for him, that’s he’s supposed to like! Like French fries! Or grilled cheese! Or those nuggets composed of mashed chicken parts! Or ketchup THE KID WON’T EAT KETCHUP WHAT IS WRONG WITH HIM.

Tonight I failed, once again, to leave him alone. I dusted apple slices in cinnamon and sugar and ate them in front of him. He ignored me. I waved the sugary slices in front of his face and made yummy noises, but he continued to pointedly ignore me. Finally I said, “Apples with cinnamon! Mmm! Want a piece! Sure you do!” and he did the clamping-fists-indescribable sound. THEN he demanded “just plain cinnamon.” I refused him this. He immediately dissolved in tears. “Just plain cinnamon! Just plain cinnamon!” he repeated, approximately 57 times. Then I lost it. I explained, at a somewhat (aherm) elevated volume, that I was not going to simply hand him the cinnamon shaker, that if he was going to have a snack, which was by no means required, it was going to have some sort of nutritional aspect to it. Then he cried like I told him his teddy bear was going to Hell. Then he screamed repeatedly, anguished yawps of cinnamon deprivation. And I yelled, because I was trying to provide him with a model of how not to behave. He didn’t seem to get the message, because he yelled back.

Then! Because my mind was still not working right! I launched into a long and convoluted explanation of why he needs to eat nutritious foods, how such foods will make him big and strong. This didn’t work because he informed me that he doesn’t want to ever get big and/or strong. Then the rest of my brain died and I came up with the brilliant idea of a chart! We would make a chart, and every time Henry ate a new food we would put a star on the chart, and when the chart was full Henry would get a toy!

He liked this idea—focusing, as he was, on the word “toy.” We went to the refrigerator. “I’ll have a yogurt,” he said, “then we’ll get a toy.” I explained to him what “new” meant. There were more tears. I tried to take back the chart idea, but he couldn’t let it go. “We’ll have some milk,” he said, “And then, toy.” Once again I explained, no, ha ha, he already drinks milk. How about some black bean soup?

More tears. More attempting to take back the not-very-smart chart idea I had. I tried to get across to him that the chart would not result in instant gratification, that he would need to try 1,2,3,4,5! new foods. Then I said we should forget it and play and LOOK OVER THERE! IS THAT A SUPERHERO IN OUR CURTAINS?

He continued staring into the refrigerator. Finally he said, “I want to try black bean soup. I think it’s going to be,” he squinted, “a little good.”

I attempted to remain calm. I heated a few teaspoons of soup in the smallest bowl we own, and placed it before him. He took a tinier sip than I thought a human being could take, smiled, and said, “Okay, where’s my toy?”

P.S. Apparently this is International De-Lurking Week, and although I am not fond of the term "De-Lurking"--implying, as it does, that you are obligated to comment and if you don't you are creepy--I still like the idea of the Week and it's nice to hear from all of you. So! Say hello, why don't you?

Reader Comments (460)

I am delurking now. I delurked last year when you told me to. You are lucky that I live 3000 miles away and only delurk once a year, because my awe for your amazing writing style and wit could easily devolve into slavish devotion that would be truly creepy. I call you my "imaginary friend" (not that you are imaginary, but the friendship is). :)I have a daughter the exact age of Henry, and while she eats reasonably well, her poor sleeping habits are about to put me over the edge. If I had a nickle for every piece of "assvice" (much thanks to the commenter who coined that phrase!!!!) that I continually get from other parents that tell me that I have to be more consistent, let her cry it out, etc., I would be able to afford the therapy that I need due to the bad sleep situation.

Finslippy, your writing has given me a gift-- the ability to lighten up about my parenting, and a sense that I am not alone in this crazy career called motherhood. You are amazing.
January 16, 2006 | Unregistered Commentercarola
I'm a total follower- so here I am delurking and crap. Love your blog, I want to be you when I grow up (well, except for the crappy stuff).
January 16, 2006 | Unregistered Commenteramber
I am delurking now. I delurked last year when you told me to. You are lucky that I live 3000 miles away and only delurk once a year, because my awe for your amazing writing style and wit could easily devolve into slavish devotion that would be truly creepy. I call you my "imaginary friend" (not that you are imaginary, but the friendship is). :)I have a daughter the exact age of Henry, and while she eats reasonably well, her poor sleeping habits are about to put me over the edge. If I had a nickle for every piece of "assvice" (much thanks to the commenter who coined that phrase!!!!) that I continually get from other parents that tell me that I have to be more consistent, let her cry it out, etc., I would be able to afford the therapy that I need due to the bad sleep situation.

Finslippy, your writing has given me a gift-- the ability to lighten up about my parenting, and a sense that I am not alone in this crazy career called motherhood. You are amazing.
January 16, 2006 | Unregistered Commentercarola
Oops. Dumbest delurker ever. Sorry for the double post.
January 16, 2006 | Unregistered Commentercarola
Delurking with a hello and my 14 month old wants to eat nothing but tomatoes all day, every day. These kids, they're nuts.
January 16, 2006 | Unregistered Commenterjesamin
I will say more than "Hi" or "Hello." Unlike most of your readers, I don't have kids (nor am I married, although I would like to be, mostly). I read you because you're funny and your kid is cute and I love kids. (I am "aunt" to some friend's kids.) And that's about all. I don't live in your neighborhood so you can go ahead and raise your shades again as far as I'm concerned.
January 16, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterALG
Another delurker....I have been reading your blog for sometime and enjoy everything you write.

I feel your pain with the eating habits. My twelve year old had the same issues esp. the noodle concerns. Only "bent" noodle mac and cheese by Kraft. Over the years he has greatly improved, of course there were lots of lies (and bribes) to encourage this. Tuna was at one time chicken, and up until a year ago salmon was pink tuna. But now he loves them both.
January 17, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterJaime
I suppose it's not really De-Lurking week anymore, but oh well. Love the stories, and you were funny on the Bravo Christmas special. (way off topic, I know)
January 17, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterJen
I sympathize with you. It's frustrating, first of all. And it's guilt inducing because you feel like you're not taking good care of him and his nutritional needs.

I have two girls, and this is what I did. When they started refusing dinner as toddlers, I told them they could eat what we were having or have a PB&J sandwich. I stuck to this very firmly. I made dinner with a meat, a vegetable, and a starch pretty much every night. A few nights the toddler would choose PB&J, and that was fine (made for them with no fuss, no comment), but they would see our hot meal with interesting, colorful food and eventually want some.

I think one of the keys is that a sandwich is cold and we tend to crave warm food at dinner time, especially in the winter. I think if I had said, "You can have what we're having or have mac & cheese," they would happily have had mac & cheese every night for months, if not years.

If they chose the dinner we were having, they had to try at least one bite of each item on the plate. If they didn't like it, they didn't have to eat it. But they weren't allowed to say yuck!

I'm sure luck has something to do with it, but both girls now eat pretty much everything (a few exceptions for each) and love to cook.
January 17, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterJill
Delurking! Baby boy (the little Prince) is 10 months old and rules the house with a pudgy, sticky fist. At the moment he eats everything, pot plant stones and cat fur (preferably from the butt area of the cat) being his idea of a snack. Finslippy you crack me up every single time!
January 17, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterGina

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