I read a post on Frugal Queen‘s blog last month where she answered reader’s questions. One question asked how she kept everyone in the family happy when there were lots of mouths to feed. FQ’s response was typical “it’s not happened to me so it must not be real” ignorant nonsense:
If you have fussy kids, who are faddy eaters,then shame on you the parent as you’ve brought them up to be like that, and you’ve pandered to them.
I tried to respond to the post saying it was bullshit and either blogspot ate it or it was moderated; either way it didn’t go through.
Oh, I’d have probably said the same thing before I had Isabel. Or indeed for the first couple of years when she ate everything that was put in front of her. Gradually, though, the food fussing has snuck in. Not liking mushrooms, courgettes, aubergine. Only eating mash if it’s got gravy on it. Liking broccoli but not purple sprouting broccoli. Liking green apples but not red ones, but only on certain days of the week. Eating cabbage at nursery but not at home. This is just a snapshot, the list is fairly intensive – I’m sure you get the point.
According to FQ this is my fault. I’m not serving enough “cottage pie, stew and dumplings, fishy pie, pasties, quiche, curry, soup, home made bread and cakes”. Obviously she’s not seen my meal plans…
This is a kid who, when presented with her lunch and homemade chocolate cake pudding, chose the lunch over the pudding (because she had peas! We love peas!) Who, at the beginning of the month when we met up at my mum’s to celebrate my brother’s birthday, ate 5 large serving spoonfuls of peas and carrots and then asked for ice cream instead of cake for pudding so that she could mix her remaining peas in. She’s not fussy because I’ve fed her junk food (this is a kid who’s only had Haribo once in her life), she just has a long list of foods she doesn’t like.
It reinforces something I’ve discovered about parenting: you can sit on your high horse smug that you’re doing the right thing but until you’ve directly experienced something chances are you’re one step away from being knocked off & made to look a fool. Which brings me nicely to me next point: I’m just as big an ignorant fool.
I’ve always assumed that food intolerances are very much a middle class thing. Up there with fussiness, intolerances don’t happen to kids who have little choice over what they eat. Which is probably why, blinded by my own ignorance, I’ve attributed over 9 months of grumpy, windy, sicky, fussy Oliver to everything other than an intolerance. He has a cold, he’s teething, another cold, over-tired, over-stimulated, not napped well enough, more teeth (he does have 8 of the bloody things!) etc.
Except it turns out, that when I keep a close eye on what I’m eating I see a pattern emerging. The day I had pudding made with a lot of evaporated milk? Up all night screaming. The day after when I had leftover evaporated milk in my coffee all day? Up all night screaming. The next day when I was too busy to make a coffee and had no dairy? Slept fine. Last night, when we had pizza thick with cheese? Hours of screaming.
I don’t eat or drink a lot of dairy which is probably why day-to-day little symptoms go unnoticed, and it’s only when I eat more that it’s obvious something is amiss. So while I sit here waiting for the health visitor to ring so I can talk to her about cow’s milk protein intolerance, thinking over the prospect of an immediate future with no ice cream, I can’t help but think there’s a lesson to be learned. Something about being a know-it-all?
Not me, of course. I really do know everything. ;)