eat like a toddler why don'tcha

When you think about toddler food, chances are you're envisioning some kind of heated-up-and-then-cooled-down-again bread/cheese combo with sides of seasonal fruit and what Chicken calls "sumpin kwunchy." Chips, French fries, perhaps a carrot.

And you know what?

It's mostly true. Toddlers are famously picky, narrow-minded foodies. Some people get lucky and raise Osh-Kosh-wearing asparagus and chard fans. But most of us pop the cap off the pouch that smuggles pureed spinach in behind pureed pear, and we call that good.

That being said...

My toddler eats way, way, WAY better than his mom does.

I WISH I could eat like my toddler. And not just because he gets cheese whenever he wants it, either. Someone (me) buys organic fruit, washes it, and slices it up for him. Someone (me) grills warm sandwiches for lunch. Someone (it's me) sprinkles a bit of sea salt and drizzles olive oil on his tomato and corn salad, just, you know, because. Someone (still me) considers Chicken's nutrition to be of critical importance and is happy to be inconvenienced by piles of dishes and high grocery bills to make sure he eats a variety of nutritious foods.

But, in yet another example of moms needing moms, ain't nobody doing that shit for me.

After I'm done composing Chicken's plate, serving it with his favorite blue fork and a cup of cold, whole, organic milk, I cast wildly about the kitchen, throwing open cupboards, yanking open the cheese drawer in the fridge, looking for something, ANYTHING to eat that satisfies the following conditions:

1. Is ready right now.
2. Does not require a plate or utensils to eat.
3. Is not "Chicken's food."

If we don't have leftover tortellini, I'm pretty much up shit creek.

Let's take a peek at today's meals so far, shall we?

Chicken's Breakfast:

Those are buttermilk pancakes, you guys. From SCRATCH.
And that yogurt? 8 bucks an ounce, no exaggeration.
HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA GOOD ONE MARCY! You're such a card. Of course the blueberries are organic! What am I, a monster?

Katie's Breakfast:

That is a cold bagel. A cold Safeway bagel that I tore apart with my teeth without a plate or even a napkin, grunting and panting like a wild pig that snouted out a pigeon carcass in the dry riverbed.

Chicken's Snack:

Just a clementine and some mixed nuts. NBD, just healthy fats, essential vitamins, a good dose of fiber, and sheer delight on your tastebuds. PS that clementine is fresh from the refrigerator. Chicken likes his fruit cold.

Katie's Snack:

Not a snack so much as a fix.

Chicken's Lunch:

Corn tortilla with cheese, turkey, and greens. Cold, firm grapes as crisp as tiny apples, organic cherry tomatoes.

Katie's Lunch:

Are we calling this "lunch?"

Oh. Yeah. Much better.

Chicken's Second Snack:

Cheese stick, freeze-dried snap peas, melon.

Katie's Second Snack:

Just kidding. That's Chicken's third snack. Someone (me! It's ME!!! Hello?!?! I'm here! I EXIST!!!) heated oil in a pan and popped that popcorn on the stove so it would be hot and fresh for Chicken's special afternoon matinee of Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs. The apples? Cold honeycrisps, of course. Mama knows what her baby likes.

This is actually my second snack:

Why yes, that IS same one as before. Here's a little bit of parent wisdom: if you wait long enough, a hot coffee and an iced coffee will taste exactly the same. That's got to be a metaphor for something.

Before you say it, yes. Yes, I know I have no one to blame but myself. Yes, I know that my happiness and health are worth the time and money it takes to prepare fresh, nutritious meals for myself.

Yes, I am aware of the fact that I set an example for my children, that Chicken watches me and does what I do. I am aware that the best way for me to teach him the value of taking care of himself is to take care of myself. I know.

So what's the deal? Why do I try to run my whole life on a cold bagel, a couple of pita chips, and coffee? I can make a lot of excuses for not taking care of myself, and a lot of them are legit obstacles - not enough time, I'm tired, I choose to spend my scant, precious free time writing and doing things I actually enjoy, rather than meeting my basic needs - but at the end of the day it boils down to this:

Food is the absolute bottom of my priority list.

If there is anything else that needs to be done, I do not believe that I deserve to sit down and eat a meal, much less take the time to cook a meal and then luxuriate in the ecstasy of consuming that meal from start to finish. And there is always something else that needs to be done.

My food can be multitasked. It can be juggled. Left out and picked at, bite by bite, over the course of 6 hours. Eaten one-handed. Scarfed in one go while driving. I don't eat nutritious food when I'm hungry; I gobble something that contains calories when I feel like I'm about to go full Hangry Hulk.

Every night when we sit down to dinner, I acknowledge that it is my first hot meal of the day. I realize it's the first time I've used a fork for something other than cutting Chicken's vegetable and chicken tamale, or stirring something hot and nutritious on the stove that was, of course, on its way to a melamine plate, not a glass one.

So I'm trying something out this week.

When I cook something for Chicken, I'm making some for me, too. That's right - I'll be making extra scrambled eggs, a second black bean quesadilla, peeling two clementines at snack time. All week long.

Now, I hope that you've been reading this thinking, "this girl cray." But if you've been crying silent tears because you too know the sad life of crackers and drive-thru and you thought you were the only one, I challenge you to eat like your toddler this week as well. 

I hereby give you permission, if you were waiting for someone to do so. YES. You paid nine dollars for those organic strawberries and you need to actually taste them. EAT the FACES off those Cheddar Bunnies, girl, and do not feel guilty about it. When your kid asks for a cup of water, DRINK A CUP OF WATER TOO.

(I started this glass of water 18 hours ago.)

Your health is worth the cost of a $3.99 clamshell of berries. Your satisfaction and happiness are more valuable than the expensive crackers, the organic turkey, the "good food."

Let's do this little experiment together.

Let's eat like someone else cooked for us.

A someone (me) who cares, deeply, about the health of our bodies and the happiness of our days.

Let's eat like toddlers.


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