Thursday, January 24, 2013

Six months ago I introduced my son to the magical world of baby food. Mushy peas, prunes and carrots. Pureed bananas, strawberries and green beans. It was a fun, albeit messy, experience that I thought would make my life easier. No more 4:00 a.m. feedings. No more bottle warmers and pumps. No more whipping out the boob in inappropriate public venues. Just shove a Plum packet in his mouth and fill 'er up.

Eventually he graduated to the crunchy stuff . Even better! Throw some Cheerios and graham crackers in a bag and hit the road. Life was good. He was eating like a champ, moving and grooving to the baby food beat. Teeth were coming in and we could enjoy dinner in a restaurant as a family. Nirvana.

Then came the toddler room.

In order to graduate from the infant room to the toddler room at his daycare center, our son would have to start eating and feeding himself "real" food. Real food like pasta, rice, diced vegetables and even meat! Meat?! He's only got 7 teeth, how is he supposed to chew meat?

I was a nervous wreck. I was nervous about his transition from one room to the other. I was nervous about the food they would be feeding him in the toddler room. I was nervous about him choking on foods he wasn't quite ready for. Most of all I was nervous about how I was going to balance preparing these "real" foods on a daily basis for him to take to school.

It was time to go shopping. On most days I like to think I'm a thrifty and efficient shopper, today was not one of those days. Today, I was lost. Today, I was desperate. Today, I loaded up two grocery carts with anything and everything that looked toddler taste bud friendly.

Deli meat. Deli meat? Can toddlers eat deli meat? Buy it anyway. Tuna? Don't know but we'll give it a shot! Goldfish crackers. Cheese cubes. Apple slices. Smoothies. Feta cheese? You never know! Buy! Buy! Buy!

I got home and managed to find space for all of our experimental foods. I then proceeded to prep said foods ready for delivery to the daycare the next day. Start off simple. Peas and small pasta shells, mandarin oranges, Goldfish crackers with a small tub of hummus, and animal crackers for dessert. A sippycup of juice later his little lunchbox was stocked.  Not bad if I do say so myself.

All day long I wondered how he was reacting to his new foods at school. We had tried some ground turkey and tomato sauce the night before and he seemed to enjoy it. More importantly he kept it down and didn't choke. Would he have the same reaction to his lunch?

I pulled up to the daycare center and ran to the classroom. I expected his teacher to throw me a high-five or at least a reassuring head nod confirming that I had successfully transitioned my child from baby food to "real" food. Thus making him one step closer to the toddler room. I opened the door, opened the fridge and there it was. Peas and pasta, full.

"He liked the oranges. He liked the hummus. And he LOVED the Goldfish and animal crackers. But he hated the peas and pasta."

Brilliant. He ate everything I DIDN'T cook.

"He kept spitting them out. He wouldn't even chew them"

"Yes, thank you Ms. Lucy! I get it!"

I didn't know how personally to take this rejection. Was it my cooking? Was it the texture? Was the food too bland? Determined to get to the root of this problem, and pressed for time, I made my second attempt at peas and pasta this morning with one small difference. Ranch dressing.

I know. Not the most appetizing or gourmet solution, but, if it was an issue of the food has no flavor this should solve the problem. Quickly. Ranch to the rescue? I'll know more at 5:00 p.m.

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