The Diva announced the other day that she no longer eats white foods. She prefers broccoli to cauliflower now, she says. This, I think, is awesome and I tell her so. I’m glad she’s willing to eat her greens, even if her former go-to vegetable has been shelved in the meantime.
Except that if it’s all about color, we’re going to have problems. Her staple diet of broetchen and noodles isn’t going to cut it if white is not acceptable for food.
I’ve already witnessed this with clothing. Clothing can only be pink or purple or must be extra super-duper special, like a tulle ballet skirt that twirls.
But food? There is no such thing as pink pasta, right? At least not naturally pink. There are Pink Lady apples and she likes those, although peeled so I don’t think it’s *only* because of the color. I don’t tell her they’re white on the inside though I’m sure she knows this. And I find myself hoping that the interest in eating green broccoli sticks. I’m really afraid it won’t.
I’m afraid not that she’ll give up her love for broccoli — my affairs with nearly all foods go through spurts. Some weeks I could devour one eggplant after another, the next I find it meh and hop on a carrot stick craze. Here is what I am afraid of: me and her both overthinking her diet. Making it an issue of color instead of taste (her). An issue of fat/protein/carb ratios instead of texture and mouth-feel and all-around goodness (me).
We already talk about food too much. Discuss what we will and won’t eat. Make trade-offs and compromises: I’ll give you two gummy bear vitamins after you finish your yogurt. Or: I’ll let you eat a tofu dog this once but next time you have to eat the lentils.
Her Kita tells me they don’t have this problem with her. They tell me she is ravenous most days, devours two or three bowls of whatever food is put in front of her, white or green, split peas or potatoes with sour cream, no questions asked. She has her preferences, they say, but she never doesn’t eat.
There are foods that she will eat there that she won’t eat at home. Eggs, for one. Cheese, too. She won’t eat those at home because I don’t eat them, so inadvertently, even as I am encouraging her to eat them because I know she likes them, she never sees me eat them and so she simply won’t either. She is the definition of a social eater — munching potato chips and fried eggs with Grandpa, putting bananas in her cereal with Grandma, ordering pepperoni on her pizza when her best guy friend does (picking it off as soon as it arrives because, as she says, it’s disgusting).
The Kita also tells me that she is ridiculously hard-headed and I know this well. She takes after me. I was the kid whose parents said I could not leave the table until my plate of venison stroganoff was picked clean and I did not leave the goddamned table until bedtime. I’d rather suffer starvation than eat deer meat.
Apple doesn’t fall far from the tree and the Diva, she employs this hard-headedness at the dinner table with me often. Kid some days will.not.eat. She will go to bed hungry and wake up at two a.m. with belly aches because she went to bed without eating after throwing a tantrum about not being able to chocolate before dinner and then refusing anything, even a broetchen, out of spite toward her big, mean mommy.
These occasions are blessedly rare but they do have me wondering, worrying, about her health. Not in a physical way, but an emotional one. What eating disorder am I setting this kid up for? The one in which she eats whatever she wants for emotional gratification? Or the one in which she tries so hard to control what she puts in her body that nothing goes into it?
Our pediatrician says this worry is normal, that toddlers go through growth spurts in which they eat loads followed by phases in which they eat nothing. The doctor is from Ethiopia and she reminds me, when I ask with worry, that she has seen starvation and this little Diva of mine is far from suffering it.
Still, I wonder, what do we moms of Divas do? How do we handle these eating “requests” without turning them into issues?